This is a work of fiction, a short story of 821 words.
Colin first noticed her online. She seemed like a free spirit, posting thoughts and photos on her site.
He read her posts again and again, looked at the photos, and imagined what it might be like to meet her. To actually see her. Talk to her as a real person, perhaps even touch her. But all of that seemed beyond reach.
He had enjoyed plenty of real-life experiences of course. But none had ever caught his imagination in the same way. A freshness, bordering on the ideal. Ideas and statements away from those considered to be socially acceptable to many, but he felt they shared the same sentiments. In his mind, he sensed an unspoken connection, a hint of something he could only imagine, knowing it was unlikely to ever happen.
After all, she was in another country. Colin had his life, his responsibilities, and various commitments that he could not ignore. But he came back to her more than he felt comfortable about, sensing a compulsion building, an addiction in the making. One that would never be fulfilled, nor made flesh. After all, he was ordinary. Unremarkable, easily passed in the street. Like so many men of the same age; past their best, and not considered worthy of attention. But he could hope. So he did.
Then she emailed him. Happy to talk, keen to chat about things. Always provocative, and very sure of herself. He was flattered at first, but a slow awareness told him that he was probably one of many. After all, someone such as her would attract a lot of people, both male and female. Hours were spent looking back at her photos, analysing her thoughts and personality. He thought she was brave and bold, amazing in fact. Unique. If only he could have been the same, his life might have been so different.
But he had never been so brave. He had settled for convention, a ‘normal’ life. A life that would not be normal for her, he was sure of that. Perhaps take a break. Avoid the site, do something else instead. Take his mind off of it. But every time he returned to the computer, he looked again. When no emails appeared, he was strangely bereft. Almost unable to comprehend why, he began to admit it had become a part of his life, in so short a time.
After too few days, Colin had to admit it had become an obsession. Only to himself of course. It was private, after all. Nobody else could know, because they wouldn’t understand. How could he have abandoned so much of himself to someone online? She might not even exist; even be a construction, an artifice. His emails became more and more personal, as he released himself to that growing desire within. He had stopped caring, given up all social restrictions, and opened himself up in a way he had never thought possible. Seeking words to explain his behaviour, he came up with ‘Reckless’, ‘Carefree’, and ‘Lost’.
It was time to take that break. Sit back, and reflect on what might be stupidity, and vanity too. This woman could not possibly be interested in him. She had an exciting life, and had made her decisions, all of which were made long before he had ever appeared on the scene. His rather pathetic adoration annoyed him, and he was in no doubt that it would hardly endear him to her, in any way imaginable. He would take some time, reflect on his enthusiasm, which may well have not been welcomed in the way it was intended. ‘Who do I think I am?’, he laughed. That was good advice, as he knew only too well what he was, and it would be nothing that she would want, he was certain of that.
A few hours passed, and Colin was relieved. It was the best thing, he was sure of that. No point deceiving himself; he had to face facts, and be aware of the truth. She was exuberant, vivacious, settled, and outwardly happy. He was just an email address, an unknown and unseen admirer. No doubt like so many others, a diversion at best. But was that all? He hoped not, deep down inside. Part of him desperately hoped that she understood. He ‘got’ her; he saw the reality, and so badly wanted her to know that, whatever the outcome. This was something different, something just for him, and she supplied the catalyst that he needed to break free of normality.
Later that night, Colin thought about getting ready for bed. But before he switched off his computer, he made one last check. No emails, no replies, no new postings. He sighed, and switched off the light.
Maybe tomorrow. There was always tomorrow.