When We Stop Speaking


It came as a shock to me the evening my laptop swore my printer was a stranger and refused to communicate with it. “Don’t recognize…something’s changed…please unplug that cable.”

“But you’ve been together since…since forever,” I argued. “How can you claim you no longer identify with him/her/it?” I undid the plug so they could have a little “me” time, but I inserted it again. I pushed buttons that had always worked before, looking for that spark, that something that would get my laptop over this hump. Make it comfortable with my printer again.

The room filled with an uncomfortable silence while I waited to see if their issues could be resolved. The same message appeared on my laptop’s screen. Down in the corner, small, but clear. “Do I have to be tied to…that? Please disconnect.”

They’d been such a well-suited couple for so long, so compatible. Or so I thought. Had one of them just been going through the motions? Spitting out printed sheets time after time, falling into a routine? Or was it my fault, pulling the laptop out night after night while the printer sat quietly aside waiting to be noticed? If I introduced my laptop to a new printer would that make things better? Or just new and different? For awhile.

“I know this is the electronic age,” I told my laptop. “You could go it alone, sure. You can send my books, my emails, my blogs all over the world, and never need that printer again. But when the lights go out, when everything is dark and you’re still and alone…it’s what the printer left behind that I’ll remember you by. Those pages and pages the two of you created together. Under the light of a candle someone will read them, someone will enjoy them, and someone will smile.”

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