365 Days · Short Stories

196 – Ten (A Very Short Story)

‘You have 10 unread messages’.

You’re an unread message.

The young woman looked around her office at faces brightened by artificial light from the computers they were staring into. She listened to the robotic strumming on noisy, out-dated keyboards, and pondered the dull hum of an air conditioner making the room just slightly too warm.

‘You have 10 unread messages’.

What would happen if I deleted them all without reading any?

The air itself seemed to gasp at the idle thought, as if someone somewhere might implode on the deletion of their unopened, electronic mail. She could almost see the words floating around in the uncomfortable clamminess, lost with no direction; floating in cyber-space never to be heard of again.

‘You have 10 unread messages’.

A phone rang in a far, darkened corner of the office; it added a shrill note to the workplace symphony and gave the noise a sense of purpose. The air-conditioner hummed its bass line underneath the professional key of a male voice taking the call.

‘You have 10 unread messages’.

Her screen blared in an ominous build up of symphonic tension, and dared her to topple over the edge; or more succinctly, throw herself hurtling forward into an abyss of the unknown.

‘Delete all’.

Take that emails. Take that email-ers. Take that internet, and corporate one per cent.

‘You have 0 unread messages’.

Leaning back into her rolling office chair, added a quiet squeal to the mix. Suddenly the rattling away on keyboards that she had so quickly dismissed, seemed important and busy. More phones rang, a door bell sounded, multiple conversations happened, fax machines faxed, printers printed, a photocopier copied, two cellphones vibrated; the sounds went on and magic happened around her.

‘You have 0 unread messages’.

The sounds go on and magic happens…

‘Deleted messages. – Select all. – Move to inbox.’

‘You have 10 unread messages’.


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