Bookcase Short Stories


(c) Arike van de Water 2007-2009

The Gaptoothed Keyboard

Along the rows of machines walked a small girl, holding the hand of her father. She was not at all used to this kind of environment, the metal and electricity everywhere. It made her dizzy. She wanted to ask if they could go outside, but they were here especially for her.

She needed a new computer, and because there was not much money, she would get one second-hand. Or third-hand. At least it still had to be working. Her father muttered while he examined each likely candidate. Some were turned down because parts were clearly missing. Others were turned over. Some simply had the wrong age, like eight years old.

The girl looked ahead. Nothing interesting here. Everything was grey and black and concrete and metal and very much for grown-ups. She needed to be here because her teacher had a talk with her parents about her needing a computer, but otherwise she wouldn't be here, she told herself. She didn't want to fail class, though. To be held back would be a shame that would not come to her. Only the snotty blond girl in fifth grade had been held back at her school, ever, and only after a lot of teacher-parent conferences that the whole school knew about. Rumour spread fast in her school.

Suddenly, she saw something that pulled her away from her father's safety. It was a laptop. A white one, lonely amongst the serious black ones all around it. It was also smaller. She liked it. She picked it up. Some of the keys were missing, but it only made it seem like the keyboard was grinning at her. She grinned back at it. she liked it very much indeed. “Dad, I want this one.”

Her father came over. “Kira, no, some of the keys are missing. I would have to replace the keyboard.” He looked closer. “Wait a minute.” He tapped the keyboard. “I think I have one of these lying at home.”

“Really?” She looked. “Good, then this computer shall begin a new life as my school laptop. Ooh, everyone will be so jealous.” She closed the laptop and hugged it to her chest.

“A rebirth eh?” Her father gave her an amused look and put his hand in his sides. “Will you give it a name too, then?”

The girl nodded gravely. “Of course. Computers should have names. It's just like magical swords, only with more software and less magic.” They walked back towards the front of the shop.

Her father laughed. “And what will his name be?”

The girl studied the laptop for a moment. “Hers. She's a girl, 'cause she's white. Gabby, because of her gaptoothed keyboard.”