Issue 8: Vahni Capildeo

Laptop Blue Screen Rationalization

I need to delete the shortcut that is Timothy. He sold me the one and only futureproofed summer of my experience. Standing ankle-deep in wild garlic in a Sussex lane he spoke of roses, and I almost bought it; I almost bought it right then and there when a 4X4 careened down the middle of the national speed limit lane sprung with Tudor-looking hedgerows almost spiky enough to stick a row of heads on, and in a whiff of gasoline one of those very common rabbits paid the price of someone else’s rich misuse of private transport and screamed time no longer.

I need to delete the shortcut that is Timothy. It was down the river that he sold me that summer. Wearing the feminist Germaine Cellier’s Bandit perfume, which she formulated after sniffing the knickers straight off the models on a post-World War II runway… I actually bought it; I actually bought it, a scent that accelerates from a whiff of gasoline only to end in the cabinet, medicinal dead wood branching out into fatherly hangers.

I need to delete the shortcut that is Timothy but first I must delete Linda, because he added her, but if I delete Linda, I need to delete Susan, because they were on a jobshare and they were never more than workfriends, who should not have had any shortcuts anyway.

I didn’t rightclick on Timothy. I leftclicked on Timothy. I’m opening Timothy. I remember the summer that was Timothy, but I do not recall what’s inside Timothy. How many keystrokes have been wasted on Timothy…

Timothy contains seven folders: Wrath, Greed, Pride, Sloth, Lust, Envy and Gluttony. These names do not look right. It was a night to remember when I went into Timothy and renamed everything within Timothy. I do not recall that night. I do not wish to delve too deeply into the sevenfold contents of Timothy.

Timothy was a project manager and he made projections. Perhaps the sins correspond to the phases of our project; our futureproofed summer. Wrath is Thinking, Greed is Planning, Pride is Doing, Sloth is Monitoring, Lust is the Exit Phase leading to or perhaps including the Feedback of Envy, while there’s no place in the scheme for Gluttony, which clearly means this guess is wrong. I might as well call the notes of a musical scale or name the colours of the rainbow as continue with this childish game. I’m hovering over and selecting the entirety of Timothy, about to finish him off.

Timothy had set the background of my laptop to roses, which used too much memory, making everything freeze, and he introduced a Trojan horse by unprotected browsing. There are babies in foreign lands named after Timothy by mothers he never met; many project workers relied remotely on Timothy. Now it’s all blue again and it’s coming back to me. It’s coming back to me since I’m deleting the shortcut that is Timothy. What was most difficult was proving that it was suicide, though the irregular little room with vodka windows and cranberry shantung curtains in the hotel near to the railway station seemed made only for that or the other thing; but I had no interest in finishing off the real Timothy, who taught me that income and happiness are not linked, so whether I am worse off or better off since the death of the real Timothy makes no difference, especially since we are in crisis and also at war, and for such a long time I hung on to the shortcut that was Timothy. The real Timothy was philosophical; when it turned out that neither Susan nor Linda could spell, he said: at least we know where they were educated and that they’ll have no choice but to listen to us when they make their choices; then he struck a deal under the table with the futureproofer from the rival company, a deal which seemed as if it could turn out to my advantage, though instead as you see I’m living in this different place now, with people like you.  And if the real Timothy were here he’d pluck out the heart of our mystery, reminding me that a positive correlation does not necessarily indicate a cause. Though it’s a pretty rotten coincidence that all my other icons vanished almost as soon as I’d deleted the shortcut that is Timothy; and the blue screen is bluer than you’d have thought.

Vahni Capildeo is a Trinidadian writer of poetry and prose, based in Oxford. Her third collection of poems, Dark and Unaccustomed Words, was published in early 2012.

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