The Beginner: A Short Story

He sat in front of the small, metallic rectangle in silence.  Waiting.

We miss talking to you, Grandad, Hanna had said on her last visit.  You should get a computer.

So the day after she had left, he had driven across town to the retail park, and entered a shop that promised unbeatable prices on electronics.

If you aren’t confident with computers, I would recommend a laptop.  They’re compact, easier to get along with.

He left £299 lighter, the box sitting on the passenger seat; precious cargo.  He had debated putting a seatbelt around it, but thought better of it at the last minute, as he could feel the eyes of the young shop assistant still watching.

Back home, he opened it with great care, with the same tenderness with which he had held Hanna in his arms for the first time, when she had been so small and fragile.  He felt just as useless as he had then, his movements clumsy, inexperienced.  Marie had always been better at these things.  She had moved his arms into position, explained how it was important to support the head.  Cooed when Hanna had began to cry, and had taken her from his arms and rocked her in that maternal way that had always come so naturally to her.

The laptop came with a cable, but it wasn’t obvious where it fitted into this little machine.  He fumbled with it, berating himself when he opened the disk drive and peered inside to see if there was space for it there.  Finally plugged in, he opened the lid and felt a mixed sense of pride and fear that he had got this far on his own.  The screen was dark.  He’d plugged it in just like the shop assistant had instructed.  He took a deep breath, and sat back, bewildered.

Hanna, hi, it’s Grandad.  How do you turn the thing on?

Apparently I wrote this short story in 2020 (I don’t remember writing it though?).

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