She is sitting at her computer. Her knee tenderly nudges the tower squatting on the floor. Her fingers are miniature legs running across the keyboard. The clicking and tapping are divine music in her ears. Her bloodshot eyes are begging for a break, but she disobeys their command, her pupils never budging from the screen.

A smile is on her chapped lips, immobile, rigid and sad.

A low murmuring is coming out of her:

"You've got a virus, my sweetheart, a naughty virus, my pet. A bad case of flu. What shall we do now, my beloved?"

On and on she coos in a reassuring tone, and the computer responds to her with an expressionless, cold buzzing.

The computer is her one obsession, the one reason why she is still alive; it is responsible for her sitting in front of the monitor till two o'clock in the morning. Her hair is dishevelled, there are heavy blue shadows underneath her eyes and her wrists are scrawny and sore where she has rested them against the edge of the table. Her posture is painful: her back is hunched. Her tired head is drooping, and still she murmurs incessant encouragements to her computer.

The machine, a contraption consisting of metal, plastic, chips, screws and goodness knows what other things is the only friend she possesses in the world. She doesn't talk to people; she stays locked within her four walls, and she despises her parents for trying to uproot her from her haven. She detests the people who put her down all the time by giving her funny looks or simply ignoring her, excluding her from their groups.

But her computer loves her. It accepts her the way she is. It requites her anguished love by doing what she tells it to do. It is her slave and her master, and she is its slave and mistress.

"If only I could melt with you, sweetheart, wouldn't we make a wonderful cyborg?" she laughs. She shakes her head as if reluctantly acknowledging defeat. The virus can't be removed; it is too late. It greedily devours the hard disk. And she calmly watches it destroy her lover. Tears flow down her sallow cheeks.

"Forgive me, beloved, I had to let it eat you up like you were eating me up. I had to."

She shrugs slowly, and more tears run down her face. She crosses her legs and stretches lightly while the virus continues its fierce course of destruction, raging around the place, ravaging the computer.

"Oh, my computer, love of my life," she sighs heavily, scratching the scabs on her arms absent-mindedly. Her tears mingle with the blood emerging from the spots where she has torn off the scabs with her ragged fingernails.

She switches off the computer. It is dead.

Then, slowly, she rises, stiff with her long vigil. She wants to sleep. She would like a deep sleep from which she will never wake up. She would like that very much indeed.

She takes out her other best friend, a knife. She kneels down on the floor, the wood hard against her bare knees. With two vicious slashes on either arm, she cuts open her wrists.

She throws away the knife and sidles up to the tower of her computer and puts her arms around it. She rests her cheek against its cold hull.

"You don't mind if I keep you company, do you, beloved?" she whispers into the slits which serve the machine as ventilation.

And as she closes her eyes, she fancies an icy hand caressing her hand and a cold metal voice saying:

"Not at all, my darling."