The act of opening a new document on his sputtering, wheezing MacBook was enough to enrage aspiring writer Ethan Lucas.
He slammed his palms on the desk. “Jesus suffering fuck!”
Whenever a brilliant idea for an award-winning piece of short fiction materialised, a plague of technical difficulty arose, cock-blocking Ethan’s creative inertia.
Every. Single. Time.
Each command+shift keystroke combo provoked a gauntlet of urgent software updates, pinwheeling beachballs, and prompt boxes for long forgotten passwords.
“I can’t remember what I had for lunch, much less the password for a porn site I visited just once in early 2003.”
“Isn’t your porn addiction what caused the divorce with Cassandra?”
Ethan turned to his coffee-guzzling grandmother. She was two pots deep into a full bodied Ethiopian arabica and obviously getting confused.
“I’m not addicted to porn,” he said defensively. “And you’re getting my ex-wives mixed up again. Cassandra was wife number three."
“The one with the colostomy bag?”
“That was the first wife. Heather. In a way the car crash was a blessing in disguise. If it weren’t for the colostomy bag maybe we would’ve had kids. Then I’d be trapped in some nightmare suburban hellscape. Forever.”
“Little ones would’ve been nice,” huffed Grandma Lucas. “I’m not getting any younger, you know.”
“That ship has sailed. I got the snip.”
Grandma Lucas took a protracted slurp of coffee. “How is Lorraine, anyway?”
“It’s been twenty years since she left, how am I supposed to know? To be honest, I wouldn’t recognise her if I passed her on the street.”
Grandma Lucas poured herself another refill. Half of it sloshed out of the coffeepot onto the tablecloth but it didn’t matter. “Cassandra was the redhead. The one with the terrible laugh.”
“Not her natural hair colour, obviously.”
“Always had to be centre of attention. Big drinker.”
“All my ex-wives drank too much,” said Ethan. “Cassandra was just bad at hiding it.” “Which one am I forgetting?”
“Gwen. The hairdresser.”
“That battle axe,” Grandma Lucas clicked her teeth. “There was something off-putting about her.”
“Tell me about it. She had habit of causing a scene everywhere we went, awkward confrontations with strangers at the supermarket, that sort of thing. She was a magnet for the deranged. They flocked to her like pigeons.”
“I can’t believe the relationship lasted as long as it did.”
“Sometimes three months is all you need.”
“I’ve taken shits that lasted longer than that marriage.”
Ethan laughed. “Thanks for putting it into perspective, grandma.”
He turned back to his MacBook. The new document had finally opened. The cursor blinked impatiently in the upper lefty-hand corner of the screen, but Ethan’s brilliant idea for an award-winning piece of short fiction had escaped him.
J. Archer Avary is an aspiring boat captain. In past lives he was a champion lionfish hunter and TV weatherman in paradise. He was born in the USA and now lives in sunny South Tyneside UK with his wife. His latest poetry chapbook TOTAL RHUBARB is out now via Back Room Poetry. Twitter: @j_archer_avary