Ava Pennington is a freelance writer, Bible teacher, and speaker, with
a passion for women’s ministries. Her stories have been published in
eight different books in the inspirational Chicken Soup for
the Soul series, and two books in the Cup of Comfort
series. Her articles have also been published in Focus on the Family’s Breakaway
magazine, THE LOOKOUT magazine, Evangel,
Light & Life magazine, Regular Baptist Press’ Real
Faith in Life, and CALLED Magazine. Ava
lives in Stuart, Florida with her husband, Russ, and their two boxers.
For more information, visit her website at www.avawrites.com
WINDOWS HAS DETECTED AN ERROR IN
Julie groaned at the two little boxes that popped up on her computer screen. Send an error report or not? How should I know? Who does the report go to, anyway? She imagined fifty people in a windowless room cackling as they deleted error reports received from around the world.
It’s bad enough being home alone. Now even my computer has abandoned me.
The ringing telephone interrupted her pity party.
“Hi, Julie, it’s me. Busy?” Denise asked.
“A little,” Julie said, brushing back a wayward strand of auburn hair.
“Gary and I are going to the movies. How about joining us?”
“No thanks. I don’t want to be a fifth wheel.”
“Don’t be silly,” Denise said. “It’s only the movies.”
“You’re sweet to offer, but no thanks.”
Denise sighed. “You sit home alone too many weekends.”
“I’m not alone. The Lord promised to never leave me, and He keeps His promises. Go ahead, have a good time.”
“You need to get out more. Meet new people. Take a square dancing class or—”
“You’ve got to be kidding!” Julie stifled a laugh. “I’m not the square dancing type.”
“Okay, no square dancing. How about signing up for a computer dating service? Not for a serious relationship,” Denise hastened to add. “Just to make new friends . . . single friends.”
“Absolutely not. Computers and I don’t get along, especially lately. Besides, I do get out: church tomorrow, choir practice Tuesday night. Don’t worry about me.”
Julie hung up the phone a few minutes later. Five years since a heart attack took my best friend and soul mate. Everyone thinks I should move on. She sighed. I could never find another man as wonderful as Ed. There’s no point in even trying.
The computer screen beeped, demanding her attention and forcing her to make a choice she’d rather avoid. SEND ERROR REPORT. DON’T SEND ERROR REPORT. Julie opted for the easiest choice: she walked away.
Julie heard the incessant ringing of the phone as she slipped her key into the front door lock. She grabbed the handset just before the answer machine kicked on.
“Hey, Mom. How are you?”
“Couldn’t be better. Just got home from church.”
“Are you sure you’re okay? Especially with the anniversary of—you know.”
Julie gripped the phone. “Of course I miss your dad, but we’ll see him again some day.”
“I wanted to come home, but with finals next week . . .”
She heard the pain in Danny’s voice. “I’m fine, honey. Medical school is hard enough without worrying about me. Just concentrate on your exams.”
“Well . . . okay, but I still wish you’d get out more. Oh, I almost forgot. How come you didn’t answer my e-mail?”
“I intended to yesterday, but the computer acted up . . . kept asking if I wanted to send an ‘error report.’ I haven’t gone online since.”
Danny laughed. “Mom, it won’t bite you. Maybe all it needs is a cold boot.”
“A what? I’m supposed to kick it with a refrigerated shoe?”
“Funny, Mom. A cold boot is, you know, when you turn the computer off, then on again.”
“Why didn’t you just say so?”
Julie sat at her computer again later that evening. She had turned it off and back on, but the uncooperative machine continued to blink the same message. SEND ERROR REPORT. DON’T SEND ERROR REPORT.
So much for Danny’s “cold boot.” She flicked the OFF switch in exasperation just as the phone rang.
“Hi, Julie.” Denise’s perky voice came through the line. “What are you doing?”
“Same thing I was doing when you called yesterday—battling my computer.”
“No. A hammer might help. It won’t do the computer any good, but I have a strong suspicion I’d feel better.”
“Gary used to work with a guy who owns a computer shop now and does repairs. His name is Tom. I’ll call you tomorrow with his number,” Denise said.
On Tuesday the computer still wasn’t working, so Julie decided to call the computer guy Denise had told her about.
“Thanks for calling ‘Compute This.’” The man’s voice cracked as he answered. “Can I help you?”
He sounds so young. These kids today know more about computers by the time they’re in high school than I ever will. “I understand you do in-home computer repairs?”
“Sure. There’s a minimum fifty dollar estimate fee, but it’s deducted from your bill if we do the repair.”
Julie made an appointment for the end of the week.
The doorbell rang promptly at one o’clock on Friday. Julie opened the door to a tall man holding a toolkit. He looked to be about her age, with warm brown eyes and short, salt-and-pepper hair. “Can I help you?”
“Name’s Tom. You called for a computer repair?”
“But I thought . . . the man on the phone seemed . . . younger . . . ” Julie shifted her gaze downward as she felt her face grow hot. She forced herself to look up.
Tom chuckled, attractive dimples forming on either side of his smile. “That was my son. Guess he forgot to mention I’d be the one making the house call.”
“Oh. I’m sorry. Please, come in.” Julie led the way through the house. “My troublesome computer is in the den.”
“You’re welcome to watch while I work,” Tom said. “A large part of computer repair is education.” He sat at her desk. “Now, what do we have here?”
Tom tinkered with her computer for an hour. Julie watched, but learned more about Tom than she did about her computer. He sang in the choir at his church, was widowed six years, and had one son. By the time he had repaired her computer she was surprised to discover how much they had in common.
“What do I owe you?” Julie asked.
“Twenty dollars.” He snapped his toolkit closed.
“That’s all? It must be more—”
“Nope. Twenty dollars will cover parts. Labor’s on me.”
After giving him a check, Julie walked Tom to the door and watched him get into his car. Five minutes later the doorbell rang. She answered it, her eyes widening as she saw Tom standing on the front step.
“One more thing . . . ”
“Yes?” Julie reached up to smooth her hair.
“This is short notice, but . . . would you have dinner with me tonight?”
Her mind raced with reasons why she should decline, but she suddenly heard herself say, “I’d love to.”
“Great. I’ll pick you up at five thirty.”
Julie leaned against the door after he left. A smile spread across her face. Denise is right. Computer dating isn’t so hard after all.