Love Me WiFi Whore

WiFi whore

The refrigerator smells like it’s just run the equatorial marathon in a tweed jacket.

Opening the windows to the panting light of a Krakow morning, she recognises the red Volvo with the flat tyre across the street.  She waves at it. The price in the windscreen has gone down, but it’s still the most meaningful welcome back she’s had.

Three month’s worth of junk mail joins the dead plants and burnt light bulbs at the foot of the front door. The radio still works under its coat of dust, although Nirvana after a twenty-eight hour flight is not bringing her any closer to the ground. When her cotton socks used to catch on splinters she would curse at least one member of the holy trinity; now she grins as if she’s forgotten the capital of Latvia on trivia night. “Got me again!”

Her hands smell of airline gravy. I can’t stay long. He could be here. He might have already seen me. But it has been more than a day since she was last plugged in, so she powers up the router and wonders.

Immediately it’s there, floating on the screen of her phone like cloud writing: ‘The Lovely Box’. She slumps against the coffee table, which sits alone and naked but for the melted wax from former post-clubbing philosophy sessions. She connects and watches the emails trickle in.

“Where are you?”

“Re: Your application.”

“Cheap health insurance!”

“Cześć ludzie!!”

“You have a new—”

The connection drops. Somewhere in the Hong Kong transit lounge is a SIM card charged with the twenty zlotys she received as change from her last Polish taxi ride.  Enough for four zapiekankas and a week’s worth of ketchup-induced hallucinations. With it she’d promised to text him every day, twice a day on weekends. She’d led him that far, why not give him just a little hope while she was away? Email had been enough until it became too much of a conversation. So she stopped. No one she knows does the distance thing any more.

Switch it off, then on again: just how he had shown her. A hard reset fixes everything, he’d said. When the connection options appear again, there’s just the one network:

Back since when?

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!

They’d probably told her not to give her password out to anyone, but the instructions had been written in Polish so it didn’t count. And besides, when you let someone in and they start loving you, they’re also allowed to claim computer administration privileges. Especially if they’re handy with a keyboard. Convenience, you know, is never having to deal with foreign bureaucracies, or complaining to the sweaty potato, A.K.A the landlord, when your boiler explodes and you’re bathing in the kitchen sink. Convenience is also a warm, and yes, let’s admit it, slender youth in your bed when the northern darkness descends like an apocalyptic tar baby; it’s that knowing smile just before you dive into the sofa and scramble with four arms for lost coppers so you can afford more vodka; it’s the sound of a continuously-boiling kettle, and a tortuous post-coital language lesson.

“You don’t have to go,” he says.

“It might be forever. Na zawsze.”

A hard reset should fix it all, shouldn’t it?

Can he hear her through the floorboards? The chattering of her teeth? She knows she can hold her breath for more than a minute, but it’s probably too late, and anyway, there’s not enough oxygen in the entire former Eastern Bloc. Ear to the walls, she can’t hear his footsteps in the hallway or the moaning of his water pipes. Get the mail and get out: that had been the plan. But you have to mash it up sometimes, ’cause that’s the beauty of sleep deprivation.

Another outage and it pings her again. This time the network blinks at her: ‘Fuck you, you fucking whore’. It is followed by a row of question marks.

Fuck you, you fucking whore?????? He still can’t make up his mind. She hates that… indecision. Either she’s a whore or she isn’t.

There’s only one exit so, with shoes in one hand and backpack in the other, she scrapes up the mail and leaves without locking the door. The lease is paid until June, but she won’t come back for a while. Not to check her email anyway.

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