Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Digital Detox (04/24/14)
TITLE: Power Cut
By Pauline Carruthers
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I press the silver button on the shiny black docking station. Music from a white I-pod begins to saturate my soul, the opening melody tenderly exquisite. The haunting strains of an orchestra captivate my heart. It holds me, trancelike, infiltrating my mind, unlocking the loveliness of precious memories. During his last weeks my husband had transferred the music from a CD, so that it would always be at my fingertips.
The tiniest touch of a finger and the music begins again. The years spin back as I recall the joy of my new blue dansette record player. One hand would hold the delicate circle of vinyl, careful not to cause scratches, whilst the other would lift and slide the stylus across, breath held, waiting for the spinning vinyl to pierce the silence with my favourite song, incessantly played.
“If I hear that song once more it will go in the bin.”
I laugh at the recollection of my mother’s voice. The bin was one of those non-existent places where threats stashed up with nowhere to go.
There was an atmosphere in that mesmerising spinning vinyl? And I suddenly miss it.
My finger presses a black, almost invisible dot and my computer wakes, wishes me good morning and waits for my instruction. It instantly obeys my finger touch and photographs appear on the screen. We are standing by an incredibly stunning Japanese Handkerchief tree, its heavily laden branches of copious pale pink blossom bowing almost to ground level. We are holding hands and our children are sprawling on the grass nearby, eyes half closed against the glare of a summer sun, resplendent amidst white clouds, like sailing boats racing across an oceanic blue sky. My husband had given me a digital camera for my birthday and we were trying it out. My finger edges the black button again and the pictures disappear. Maybe later I’ll browse through the photograph album, the pictures taken by an endlessly developing series of cameras, relentlessly edging towards digital technology. But I get a warm comfortable feeling looking at old black and white pictures. I miss that too.
As the music climaxes towards a breathtakingly haunting crescendo the digital telephone sends out its staccato sound, demanding attention. I ignore the summons, choosing to linger in the melody. The answer phone clicks in and the digital voice requests a message. My finger presses the delete button as I realise it’s just another sales call. A smile touches my lips as I recall the chunky old white telephone of my younger days, easier to hold between shoulder and chin and no repetitive strain injury to thumbs. Unobtrusive. Under my control.
The computer calendar reminds me that it’s Friday and the church news bulletin needs to be compiled. A finger touches the keys and the template appears. I use all fingers and thumbs to key in the information, then reach out and press the button that turns on the printer. I press print and the printer requests a decision. Black or colour? Patience is beyond its scope. My old desktop computer was not so precocious. Less pressure.
The gloriously lilting melody comes to an end and my finger presses the black repeat button. I want to hear it again. I need to sit and dream, remember the little things we did together. The tender secrets that passed between us.
Instead I wander into the kitchen, using my finger to activate the technology that rapidly heats up leftovers. A glance at the ultra modern black and silver cooker and hob and for a moment I long for the security of our old pre-digital oven. Solid and homely.
A quick press with my outstretched finger and the digital radio is silent. Another and the TV springs to life. My thumb searches the channels.
The holiday brochure on the kitchen unit catches my eye. A quaint old farm cottage in the country, isolated and devoid of anything digital. Temptation surfaces.
Returning to the study I activate the I-pod again and the music wraps its charm around me like a cashmere shawl. Opening the desk drawer I take out a hard bound book lovingly wrapped in blue tissue paper. Pressing a black button and turning the pages activates my husband’s voice that comes from somewhere within, reading a bedtime story for our three year old twin grandsons. I hear his warm tones and joyful spontaneity praises God for technology. I listen to the end. And this time I don’t cry.
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