Contemporary Drama Funny

‘Large or small?' said Alice, but she knew Joe couldn't hear her, not yet.

She twisted the metal top off the bottle, poured two large Primitivos, clinked glasses and drank from one, then the other. Then she put down the wine, took a marker from her pocket, and wrote ‘Hey, Joe’ in cursive script on a sheet of A4. She opened the lid of the photocopier, put the paper face-down on the glass, closed it and pressed SCAN. The machine whirred, the light beam moved across, and a sheet dropped into the tray. Then she sipped from her glass and waited until Joe got back to her.

‘Hey babe.’

Alice pulled over a chair, closed her eyes, and pressed her chest against the slightly warm machine, absorbing the gentle hum. Why had Joe from the post-room crashed that stupid motorbike of his? Just when things had been getting serious between them. They used to sneak into the copier room after working hours and fool around. Now that Joe had passed to the other side she was dating a ghost, and that was not what she had planned. Plastic was a poor substitution for flesh.

Alice put down her wine and pulled a small sheaf of papers out of her rucksack, looked through them, and selected one. She wrote her next note.

‘Remember that night when we messed about on top of this machine? I saved the prints. Here's one I think you'll like.'

She fed her note and the black and white image into the copier feed and pressed SCAN. The reply popped out almost immediately.

‘OMG. That’s hot, babe.’

Alice smiled and took a large glug from each glass. Her friends had warned her Joe was dodgy, a bit of a lad, but she had a thing for bad boys, and this one was to die for. She added a sad emoji to her next note.

‘Wish you were here, and we could be properly together (sad face).'

There was a pause of several minutes until the response arrived in Sans Serif.

‘You could join me over here, babe (happy face).’

‘What, inside the photocopier? Don't think I'd fit.’ wrote Alice.

‘No, silly. It’s a gateway, not a dead end. It’s fun on the other side, lots to do and see. And you get a new body, well almost like a body.’

Alice hesitated. She remembered the feel of his skin and the smell of his neck and wanted that again. Life without Joe was drab and boring. Her work was tedious, and the future held nothing special. But was she up for such a massive jump into the unknown? As for the practicalities of getting to the other side... She made three attempts at her response and eventually decided on this.

‘I’d have to kill myself. Not quite ready for that.’

The reply dropped into the upper A4 tray. ‘I’ll wait an eternity for you.’

Just as Alice was preparing an ornate heart doodle, Christine from Customer Relations strolled in carrying two glasses, a bottle of red wine, and a packet of screen wipes. On seeing Alice, she stopped, and her mouth gaped.

Alice blurted out, ‘Hi Christine. What are you doing here?’ as she swept the pages from the top of the copier.

One page fluttered to the floor and Christine bent over to peer at the butt pic. ‘And what are you doing here?’

‘That’s none of your business,' snapped Alice.

'Oh God, I'm sorry, he told me you two had broken off,' said Christine as she backed out of the door and ran off, sobbing.

‘How could you, Joe,’ yelled Alice. ‘You said it was forever. You said it would be you and me.’

The machine made a routine humming noise. Alice emptied both glasses and the rest of the bottle of wine into the back of the copier. Then she pressed PRINT. There were clanking noises until an A3 sheet emerged and jammed half-way. The green 'On' light disappeared.

Alice tore off the end of the paper and read FGv*vb ^%.@?/f.

What absolute drivel. Bloody hell, she’d banjaxed Joe. Messed up his innards. Well that served the two-timer right. Alice put the top on her empty wine, screwed it on firmly, and put the bottle into the recycling bin. Then she ripped the notes and pictures into shreds and stuffed them into the paper recycling box. Grabbing her bag, she stormed off to take the tube home. Screw Joe. The night would end in comfort on her sofa, in the supportive company of a box of Kleenex, a stiff gin and tonic, and Love Island.

The following day Alice crept into work, somewhat the worse for wear, and saturated with remorse. Joe was her soulmate and Christine but an office fling. Last night, her rival had admitted as much, and had slunk off, tail between her legs (and not on top of the photocopier). Alice knew exactly what to write in her next missive to her beloved Joe, and had composed a message that expressed just the right amount of confidence and wit.

'I get it. Christine was but a short-lived merlot-drama.'

The door to the room was ajar. What’s this? An ‘Out of Order’ sign taped to the copier. Alice was completely taken aback.

‘What’s going on with the old Xerox?’ she asked the office manager.

‘They're picking it up today for recycling.’

‘Can’t it be fixed?’

‘Afraid not. That copier has been playing up for a while, infected with a virus or something. The lease company are sending another one sometime tomorrow. Until then you can use the one on the second floor.’

Back at her desk, Alice welled up. She’d system-crashed the only man who’d ever loved her. Her Joe was gone forever, and she was single again. She grabbed a tissue, blew her nose and stared at her in-tray.

'You okay?' said the office manager as he walked by, but Alice knew he really meant 'Why aren't you working on those late orders?'

Alice turned on her laptop. She entered her bit-locker code, then her password. The machine whirred into action and a message flashed across the screen.

‘Hey, babe. You’re the only girl that’s ever sucked my toner.’

Alice felt her face warm with that familiar up-swelling of excitement. Joe had such a way with him. she looked around the office to see if anyone was watching.

Then her fingers tapped, ‘Hi Joe. Sorry about last night. Let’s start over. This computer has a webcam (wink face).'

October 21, 2023 22:10

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Amanda Lieser
06:09 Nov 28, 2023

Hey Mary! Oh my goodness, this story! It was absolutely hilarious while also being entirely heartbreaking at the exact same time! You took such a You took such an incredible and unique take on the prompt! I was also really impressed with how well you built your world, and I found that all of the possible questions I could have as a reader were eventually answered within the piece. What an interesting idea about what happens to a soul after it dies! I especially loved that comment about the body or lack there of. Nice work!!


Mary Black
21:47 Nov 28, 2023

Most kind of you to be so specific and helpful in your critique.


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Shirley Medhurst
15:55 Nov 03, 2023

This was FABULOUS! Twist after twist after twist 😂 Love the novel concept of communicating too.


Mary Black
18:26 Nov 03, 2023

Many thanks!


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Patricia Casey
11:56 Oct 29, 2023

Hi Mary, This was a clever love story. I guess Joe hasn't changed any since he crossed over, but Alice loves him the way he is. I'm glad he survived her jealous retribution, I think. Patricia


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