Bernard Page 9
     Carmen smiled ecstatically at the words on the screen, leaned forward, and kissed them.

. . .

     The desktop computer she used at home had been behaving even more erratically than usual, and the next evening it crashed so badly she couldn't even boot it up again. The following day she took it, with Barry's help, by taxi to the shop for overnight servicing. Back home again, after waving Barry with a warm smile off into the night, she used her business laptop to go online. There was, as usual, an email from him.
     It was a cute drawing of a sunflower, using parentheses and slashes and periods and other punctuation marks. She giggled with surprised delight and sighed, glowing, and sent him a romantic reply. For some reason he didn't reply at once, or even later that evening,

but she didn't mind it at the time. Maybe they both needed a little space right now~and anyway, she had gotten what she wanted, for the moment.
     Next day, again with Barry's help, she picked up the desktop and brought it home, and all evening she spent exchanging emails and, later, messages with him till it was past midnight and she had to type, "i have to work tomorrow :( good night!"
     But her desktop machine (an old, battered IBM clone she hadn't upgraded in years) began behaving even worse~hanging up and crashing at the strangest moments~though never when she was online with him, thank heaven. Eventually it got so bad she decided to trash it and buy a new machine.
     The day the flashy Compaq Presario arrived, Carmen took her old computer~ugly monitor, boxy CPU, clunky keyboard, sticky mouse and all~with Barry's help to the Good Will downtown. When she got back, she set up the