A bright green water bottle lay on its side on his otherwise immaculate desk, lid off. The laptop was almost certainly fried – he hadn’t been fast enough to stop the water from getting into it.
Perfect. Absolutely f—ing perfect.
The real danger of course with wet circuitry isn’t the water itself – it’s the electricity flowing through the board shorting out; so in theory a machine that’s off shouldn’t be damaged by liquid as long as it was dried thoroughly before being started again.
Unfortunately, he had been in the middle of a video call and the smell of burnt ozone wasn’t a hopeful sign. Worse, the computer was a Mac and some idiot at Apple had decided users shouldn’t be able to remove their own batteries so he couldn’t just pull the plug and remove the battery to cut power quickly. Instead he’d had choose between closing the lid to put it in a sleep state (ie not quite off and still a chance of frying things) or going through a shutdown sequence that required running the machine for an additional 30 seconds with who knows how much water on the motherboard. He had opted for the former and had the machine bottom-up on a towel. He couldn’t even open the lid to blow dry it without it turning back on and risking permanent damage. Literally the only thing to do was leave it alone and hope.
And then there was the news that had made him drop a full water bottle onto his brand new work laptop in the first place – after 6 years together Elaine was dumping him. She had a whole list of reasons, white noise mostly. The big one – the real one- was that she was bored with him and she’d met someone new.
There are a million ways for love to die – whether through deliberate hurt or unintentional neglect. Truth be told, John had often put his work ahead of everything else in his life – including her. He had always found it easy to lose himself in the work – focus on the task at hand and see it through to completion. Most times he thought that was a positive character trait but maybe somewhere along the way he’d lost a little more of himself than he’d intended. And now he’d lost Elaine too.
Not that she was blameless – he and his boring job paid for her lifestyle after all. And right now he was the one paying for her to spend a week in Hawaii and meet her new lover. They had planned to go together but, predictably, something had come up and he’d had to cancel at the last moment. She was livid and declared she was going without him and he’d said that was just fine (it really wasn’t fine) and that he couldn’t deal with her right now anyway. She had stormed out in tears and he’d spent the night drinking and writing code that – in the cold sober light of morning – he’d been forced to scrap.
That had been 4 days ago and neither of them had reached out to the other since – perhaps because of despair or fear of appearing weak or just out of reluctance to confront the obvious. When she popped up on his Skype chat and asked if he could spare a minute to talk he almost said he was busy.
It’s hard to spend time if you don’t make time, and as he sat there staring at the (probably dead) laptop and wrestling with his heart he realized just how glad he was that she was a thousand miles away and that he was completely incapable of logging back on and getting into a yelling match with her. Maybe a dead laptop wasn’t the end of the world. If nothing else it meant he couldn’t work any more tonight and he was in no fit state to focus anyway.
He mopped up the rest of the water on the desk that he’d been ignoring while tending to his computer. A quick search around the disheveled apartment revealed jacket, wallet, keys, hat, and phone – all the necessities of modern life. On the street below, downtown was alive with people out and about and the bars were already getting crowded. So many lives, so much life.
Time to lose himself in it. And maybe find himself as well.