On the other side of the planet a sad girl stirred in her bed dreaming of rape. A restless sleep moaned and held her in handcuffs. Her hair was silky and her arms were narrow and she kicked beneath the sheets trying to escape. Her sulky lips finally muttered, “Help me.”
No one was there to hear and because of that nothing was real and the signals of satellites passing overhead refused to verify the man who entered her room and woke her with a name she did not know.
I had met her on a free reading site. She called herself a lonely sailor and a naïve sea was her conveyance. Taking a row boat at night on the bay, she would swim alone and in those moments she felt free and not bound to her existence. She wrote about rape, kidnapping, and torture. Her words hung on hooks and were rough, pithy, and movingly dead. There was no obscure intellectualization to tie the stories to larger themes, yet…it was more than just the knife and the blood. Supporting the words was an apparent experience. She was carrying around a suitcase filled with body parts and because of that I started to leave her public comments.
Who was this girl?
I toyed with the idea that she was a man and told her as much, but then as we got to know each other, I decided this was not catfishing. No, I began to think that on the other end of the line was a young woman who might have been exploited, crushed by something terrible. I accepted the image and tried to decipher her stories through the lens of my own hurt past. The death I had known was compared to the death of her characters. My recall of women beaten and bruised sat beside the same ones she described. Evil men were there for both of us. Abuse for abuse, pain for pain, tears for tears and with every word I read, I found little difference between what I knew and what she wrote.
We dedicated stories to each other. I got on her about grammar and editing and she would send me “ha, ha” and say that someday she would rework everything and maybe even find an editor. I told her that if she really did that, she might be able to grow into a very good writer, maybe even a great one.
When I complement her, she responded with shorthand text talk and told me LYLAF or ILYM and there was always the “ha, ha” and so it went like that for months and my writing progressed and my book was published. She wrote a review for me. “This is a bloody powerful book. Amazon should be so lucky to get their grubby fingers around it. His words are raw, horrifying, poetic, and honest. Believe me, I know. This guy is a keeper!”
She never posted it.
One night I couldn’t sleep and the clock glowed 3:00 a.m. I switched on my computer and there was a message from one of her friends. As I read, my stomach dropped and my skin burned and danced up into my brain. The note said the girl had committed suicide by hanging herself from a tree by the sea in a spot that overlooked the bay where she rowed her boat and swam.
I quickly scanned our recent messages and found a small comment that she wasn’t feeling so well. I had told her to go swimming and it was in that moment that her dark secrets began to scream at me.
Panicked, I sent her a message: “Hey, how are you? Write me ASAP.” A few hours later I wrote another one, “I’m worried about you. Please write.” I sent several more over the next few days and then I stopped. People were posting RIP’s on her account and contacting me. I didn’t want anyone talking to me about the dead girl and so I cancelled my account on the site and poof, all of my words disappeared; all of those virtual relationships vanished.
Time has passed and people are tired of my moaning about the girl. My publisher says I must brand myself, find a readership on the internet and so here I am with this shitty blog, posting my stories; the ones totally approved by the girl with silky hair and narrow arms who wrote with a deep pain that I can’t shake. The one who said I was a keeper.
I keep missing her and I imagine her arms stroking the sea with the stars and moon reflecting off the dark surface. Everything milky. Sometimes I look for her PMs and the Ha Ha. I think about how she combined character and setting and plot that reflected horror, things no one could endure. I remember her words, “I’ll be back soon.”
Fucking hell…I feel like we’re all swimming alone in the ocean and because of that I can hardly breathe.
Who were you Emma?