He woke up, and in the half-light reached out and patted carefully around the top of the table beside his bed searching for his cell phone. Finding it, he switched it on in hopeful anticipation. The screen lit up, the jingle played, the gauge showing the remaining battery life appeared; the name of the service provider and date and time and cell location appeared; but no notifications. He waited for a few moments. No messages. No missed calls.
He got up and walked through to his study where a desktop computer sat dormant on his desk. He switched the modem on and a row of tiny green lights began to twinkle. He switched the computer and the monitor on and waited for them to labor through their start-up sequence. Both were old, like him; slow, due for retirement. The hard drive was almost full. The memory could hardly cope with the volume of information it was being asked to absorb and process. Eventually, his desktop icons appeared on the screen but he knew that it was just a tease, a false expectation: the computer still wasn’t ready to do his bidding. But this particular morning was a special morning and he was impatient for what he expected the computer to deliver; so he decided to double-click the browser icon anyway, thinking: “In your own time.” And finally, after what seemed like a deliberately hostile and provocative procrastination, the home page appeared.
He checked his email: nothing but the usual junk. He checked his Facebook account. No messages. His heart sank. Without realizing it, his expression had dissolved into a gray emptiness. But he consoled himself with the thought that it was just a time zone issue. It was still yesterday in the place from which he’d expected to hear something. So he repeated the identical process the following morning. But the outcome was the same.