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Love On The Internet
By Mary E Newton

"You are so bloody selfish it is unbelievable", yelled Karen.

"Me selfish? Replied Jason. You’re the one who is selfish, to deny me my leisure time is totally unreasonable."

Exasperated, Karen turned on her heels and rushed to the bedroom in tears. This argument was going nowhere, no matter how she approached the problem it was met with animosity instead of the understanding that she’d hoped for. The experts advise to talk things over, bring things out into the open…fat lot of good that had done!

She sat down on the edge of their bed, which over looked the beautiful garden that she and Jason had so lovingly created. Ah, those were the days when they spent so much time together, enjoying each other’s company, when, where and how it had all gone wrong, she asked herself.

In the early days of before and after their marriage, there would be candle lit dinners, picnics, watching movies together, just the two of them. Of course there was the not so fun things to do like housework, which was made much easier by both sharing the load…still, there was no use in reminiscing, it was blatantly obvious that the future of their relationship was doomed.

After a quick ‘rescue me’ call to her friend, Mandy, she started to pack her bags ready to leave her once loved home but which was now feeling more like a prison every day. Folding the cashmere sweater that Jason had bought for her two Christmases ago, she reflected on the heated argument that had just taken place. How dare Jason accuse me of being boring, what does he expect when I have no longer got any time left for myself these days. I’m the one who gets to do all those mundane and thankless tasks whilst he is on that damned computer!

The computer…that’s it; it all fits into place now, it had all started when he bought that confounded piece of machinery, which was incidentally supposed to be for both of us to use together, Karen thought. She remembered that the initial excitement of purchasing this contraption was soon short lived when her loving husband, once so romantic and thinking of only her, started to buy the gory, blood thirsty PC games.

Filled with fresh rage, she threw the rest of her clothing in the bags, remembering that she used to escape from those sickening sights and sounds by doing the dishes, or the washing. She would do anything to drown out those dreadful noises coming from that awful contraption. Of course Jason cottoned on to this pretty quick and spent even more time playing the games, his days of fair workload were over. Karen tried to complain after a while but he insisted that it was her own doing and nothing she could say made any difference to him.

Finally after many rows he decided to leave the games alone for awhile and connected to the Internet which Karen thought was a good idea…at least that is, until Jason found more excuses as to why he should be on the net. Well…somebody had to prepare tea, so once again she was the one who ended up doing it. How she had never had an accident with the kitchen knife was a miracle, because of the way she furiously chopped the vegetables.

She gazed sadly at their wedding photograph on her bedside table before leaving their room for the last time. There was no point in looking back, today was the first day of the rest of her life and she had decided that that was what she was going to do. With a big heart rending sigh she closed the bedroom door and glanced over to the computer room noting that it’s door was closed once again, yet the sounds of the keyboard were still very audible.

2

Mandy was sad on hearing of her friends sad news as they seemed such the perfect couple and so right for each other but had agreed to let Karen stay with her for awhile. They had been friends since early schooldays and would do anything for each other, so it was no problem for Mandy to put her best friend up, for however long. She made sure that she had a lovely pot of coffee ready for her when she arrived at the townhouse.

The beautiful fresh coffee aroma greeted Karen as she entered her friend’s home, it hadn’t occurred to her until now that she’d had no dinner, let alone coffee and was now starting feeling to feel ravenous as well as thirsty. Luckily, this had been anticipated and within a short time they had both sat down to a scrumptious meal and bottle of wine. It felt so good to be waited on for a change and not only that, have someone to talk to and who in turn would listen to you as well. Three hours later and after sharing three bottles of wine between them and getting everything off her chest, Karen suddenly felt much happier and very sleepy.

Mandy helped her friend to her room, making sure that she was safely tucked into bed and quietly left the room. Judging from the noises coming from that room now, the wine was obviously a good sleeping tonic.

She returned to the lounge with a worried frown on her face, this was not a good time for this to happen, no indeed not. Karen was so upset when she called earlier that she just couldn’t tell that she was leaving tomorrow to go to Paris for three weeks. It was something that she could not postpone as it was in regards to her job and there was no one who could replace her at such short notice. The only solution was to let her come on over and then she could tell her but Karen had so much to tell her and needed a shoulder to cry on…and what are friends for?

Clearing up the dinner dishes and taking them to the kitchen to clean, Mandy decided to write a note explaining the circumstances, surely Karen would understand? She’d never seen her friend drink so much wine as she had last night, over two bottles to herself…I hope she will be okay when she wakes up, she worried.

Dawn arrived with such splendour; the sun was shining brightly bringing the promise of a beautiful day. Mandy had left with a heavy heart for the airport two hours earlier, after leaving the note for her friend on the kitchen table.

It was much later in the morning that Karen stumbled out of bed clutching her head…wow; this is one hell of a hangover she thought. After visiting the bathroom she made her way downstairs to get some water and paracetamol, for goodness sake how much did I drink last night, she wondered?

Slowly things came back to her and once again felt wretched in her misery, she looked around the kitchen feeling guilty that she had left the cleaning up to Mandy and then noticed the note propped up against the sugar bowl. After opening it and reading it she felt very sad and lonely that she would be here by herself these next three weeks but was relieved that her good friend had offered to let her stay here indefinitely. Poor Mandy, I landed this problem onto her with such short notice and put her in an awful spot, she thought. It was also suggested in the note that Karen makes use of the computer and go on the Internet, get talking to other people and make more friends. She laughed out loud at this, as that contraption was the last thing on her mind, after all isn’t this the root of the problem?

Still nothing was to be gained by moping around so after showering and unpacking Karen went into the garden and did some weeding and put the sprinklers on for awhile. Next she did some washing that she’d brought with her and after hanging it on the clothesline she decided to have a walk around the neighbourhood. Feeling a lot more refreshed and in a better state of mind after getting acquainted with the local park and ducks, she returned to Mandy’s impeccably tidy home.

By evening Karen was feeling bored so flicked through the channels but decided there wasn’t anything worth watching on television. Even the magazines that she normally enjoyed did not hold her interest in the slightest this evening, what she really needed was to communicate with someone. Remembering Mandy’s offer to use the Internet she shrugged and thought, why not? Luckily she knew how to connect to the chat lines as Jason had been so excited about this and showed her how to do it, but she never got the chance to try it out for herself. Well there’s nothing stopping me now and with that she entered the chat room but after trying to make sense of all the one line comments in the first ten minutes she decided to get out of it.

Just then the phone rang so she answered it, "Hi, Karen, how are you feeling today?"

"Oh Mandy, it’s great to hear from you, I’m so sorry for troubling you at such an inconvenient time, it must have put you in an awful spot, I’m feeling fine so don’t worry about me."

"That’s alright after all you would have done the same for me but I’m glad that you understand the position that I am in. I’m in between flights so I won’t keep you long, what I called for was to tell you that I forgot to put in my note that the chat line I use is ICQ and you’ll find the icon for it on the desktop…happy chatting, bye."

"Thanks pal, enjoy your trip, bye."

Karen replaced the receiver and went back to the computer thinking that the gods must be smiling on her this evening. She found the icon and opened up the program using Mandy’s identity number she went onto random chat, within a few minutes she had contacted three users. She giggled to herself at some of the nicknames they come up with, there was ‘Wild Bill’, ‘Rarint’go’ and ‘Wowser’, still it was only a bit of fun so what the heck? She had no sooner sent a message off when another would appear and it became very confusing so in the end she said goodbye to all but ‘Wild Bill’. She didn’t know why but he sounded so nice and he wasn’t one of those conceited Yankees, he says that he lives here in Adelaide.

What on earth is wrong with me mused Karen, after all the fuss that I made about Jason being on the computer; here I am spending all weekend on it. Since she was introduced to ‘Wild Bill’ a few nights ago, she had done little else but think of him…it’s ridiculous, I feel like a teenager again, like when I met Jason. There I go again, why can’t I get that man out of my head once and for all, it’s over now, forget him girl.

3

Wild Bill had just separated too and he’d told Karen his sob story just as she had told him hers and in a way they had helped each other see things from the other side. He had said that he was guilty of some of the things that her husband had done and vice versa. Oh why couldn’t I have been able to talk to Jason in this way instead of us losing our cool, she thought?

Karen found it infuriating that just when she had met someone else who could make her happy, she’d started to get phone calls from Jason. He never actually said he was sorry for anything but she got the feeling that he was at least missing her. That last call was very unsettling as he seemed to be on the verge of saying something, but when she had prompted him to get on with it he had only asked her if she was looking after herself.

"Look, I don’t think that your wife means to be so picky but have you given any thought to the fact that she needs to have leisure time too? She may also be missing the times you used to share together"

"I suppose you are right but I think it is too late for us as she was so cold to me the last time I talked to her. I….I think she’s found someone else."

"I’m sorry to hear that Bill, I know how you are feeling. I formed the same impression when I last talked to my husband, he seemed to be on the point of telling me something but changed his mind."

"What a couple of dunderheads we are, why don’t we drown our sorrows one evening over a lovely meal? Asked ‘Wild Bill’, hopefully.

Karen laughed happily, he really is a lovely man, she thought.

"Yes, I’d love that and maybe we can divulge our real names, I’m not so sure that I could call you ‘Wild Bill’ all evening."

"You mean that Mandy is not your real name, I never thought to check it out as…never mind, it’s not important."

"No, it is my friend’s name, I’m using her computer and membership number, while she is away.

"Now you’ve really got me curious, how about ‘The Seafood Grotto’ in Currie Street, at around 7.30pm next Friday?"

"Fantastic, I’ll wear slacks and a pink cashmere jumper, I take it that I won’t find you wearing a cowboy hat?"

"Great minds think alike, that’s exactly what I’ll be wearing."

Karen was thinking that this guy was not only nice but has a good sense of humour to boot, she couldn’t imagine Jason doing anything like that, she thought

The next day a E-mail arrived from Jason, asking her if he could see her on Friday evening, as there was something he wanted to tell her. With shaking hands and head throbbing she replied instantly to it, explaining that she couldn’t make it as she had a date. This response served two purposes, one was to put him off telling her that their marriage was over and the other was to try and make him jealous.

After spending two hours dolling her self up and nervously pacing the lounge floor, she’d eventually made it to the rendezvous. Checking in the mirror in the entrance hall she then made her way into the restaurant, scanning the tables for her date. Aha, she spotted the cowboy hat in the far corner…very dark corner at that, luckily for her he had his back turned to her. Karen took in a deep breath, this was the time she could make her escape but instead she found herself standing behind ‘Wild Bill’.

He breathed in her glorious scent, Karen’s scent, and smiling happily, turned to her, "Hello darling."

Karen couldn't believe her eyes "What are you doing here, I’m supposed to be…why are you wearing that hat?"

"Because I’m ‘Wild Bill’ and that is whom you are meeting," said Jason

"You knew who I was all along? She asked incredibly, I feel so silly"

"Well you shouldn’t do because I only realised myself a few days ago and then ‘twas only suspicions until I sent you and e-mail and got your reply. We seemed to have too much in common and after you said that Mandy wasn’t your name I checked in the user details and got the e-mail address. It was just a hunch since you have a friend called Mandy. Then when you said that you’d be wearing a pink cashmere jumper, well, I could only live in hope. You see I love you Karen, more than life itself and believe I was meant to have a second chance. Will you give me that much darling?"

Karen wiped away the tears and smiled seductively, "how wild are you, Bill?"

With that he took her in his arms and kissed her passionately, hmm computers aren’t that bad after all, she thought.

Written by Mary E Newton

Copyrighted August 2000

Please do not use this story without my permission.

Shaka@primus.com.au

 

The copyright of this work belongs to the author and is not in the public domain. You may not duplicate or publish this work in any manner, way, or form, without the written permission of the author.