Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Cyber Communication (email, IM’s, etc) (11/04/10)
TITLE: Clicking and Clacking
By Nancy Sullivan
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The house was fairly quiet with the exception of the constant clicking of computer keys in the other room. Pops seemed a little annoyed. Frequently, he left the big easy chair that had been reserved for his visit and ambled past the entry to the family office. He would linger and attempt to focus at the source of unfamiliar activity that seemed endless. Grandson Jake surrendered his place at the keyboard for the slightly older granddaughter, Grace. Emily, the youngest, seemed oblivious in her pretend world of doll clothes and plastic tea pots.
Back in the overstuffed chenille rocker/recliner, he tried to occupy his mind with the big screen TV, a novelty for Pops. His small apartment could ill afford surrendering this much space for a television. He tried browsing through a Decision magazine, but his thoughts were hypnotically drawn back to the click-clacking of keys. When he could stand it no longer, he once again gingerly bailed out of the chair, flexed his stiff knees and took another stroll past the mysterious goings on by his grandchildren.
Polly was more than a little apprehensive at dinner, fully expecting a kind, but direct word about her children spending too much time on the computer and not enough time outdoors. She had heard this observation before and agreed that her kids probably didn’t get enough sunshine and exercise. But assignments were due, and having to share the one family laptop slowed the process of completed projects. Oddly enough, the lecture never came. The usual family fare of “pass this” or “Emily, finish your veggies” mingled in with polite conversation.
Once dinner was over, Jake and Grace were again doing the do-si-do at the computer in the designated online safe zone. Physically, Pops was back in his assigned seat, but his mind could never quite settle in there. Polly and David retreated to their favorite chairs, remote in tow and ready for their evening viewing fare.
Finally, “Five minutes,” signaled the end of homework sessions and the beginning of bedtime rituals. One by one, the three filtered to the back of the house and disappeared behind their respective bedroom doors. Pops began drumming his fingers on the arm of his chair. He tried to engage in the episode of “White Collar”, but to no avail. He finally surrendered to some intermittent cat naps until the news was over.
Polly stretched and stood, then stopped to plant a light kiss on Pop’s balding head and wish him a good night. David roused from his semi-sleep fog, said, “’Night, everyone” and followed Polly down the hall.
Pops opened his eyes and rolled them from side to side. So far, so good. The coast seemed clear. He quietly rose from his chair and took one more look around. He ever so quietly tiptoed across the hall and slipped into the high tech cave. It had been beckoning him all day. The door creaked as he pushed it open, and he waited for someone to respond to the tell-tale noise. No one did.
Once safely behind the closed door, Pops carefully lifted the lid to the laptop. He reached deep inside the pocket on his favorite blue sweater and pulled the folded paper out. Once he adjusted his bifocals, he began reading the secret code that would take him into the world of email, the one his best friend had been bragging about since last Christmas. Pops had had enough. It was his turn to join in with his good buddy, Wilford, and learn how to operate this thing.
Wilford had meticulously printed off each step of the instructions for signing on to the internet, finding the mail icon, and acquiring an email address. Now those click-clacking keys were all his. He was the commander of this black, square space ship to anywhere. Pops stopped. He listened once more for footsteps or voices that would signal the approach of inquiring minds. Nothing.
At first, the sounds from the keys were more of “peck, pause, peck, pause…” Once he had entered his new user name and pass code – “PopsRocket1” and “BuckRogers55” respectively - the pace of his typing slowly increased. His first email was on its way.
“Hey, Wilford, I did it!” Pops would never be the same. And the arrival of Wilford’s response signaled a whole new realm of possibilities for this independent soul. He was in control of his, no, THE universe. Pop’s next goal? Clicking and clacking on his own computer.
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