This is the eleventh part of a fiction serial, in 816 words.
Deciding to keep her reply short but polite, Gillian typed just one line.
Thank you for the kind compliment GentlemanZorro
Before he could reply, a new message appeared under her blog post.
Hi Stacey, I’m Janet. I haven’t been outside for twelve years and have no intention of ever going out again. Just don’t worry about it. If you don’t want to go outside, then don’t. And don’t listen to people who say you have to, or let them get psychiatrists to come and see you. They will just mess you up.
Clicking on Janet’s profile showed a blog with no comments or likes, but dozens of posts about not being bullied into going out. It had been nice of her to leave a comment, but as Gillian had nobody bullying her to go out, she felt no connection with her. So she just clicked to like the comment, and didn’t reply.
Then there was a reply from GentlemanZorro.
You are very modest, lovely Staceydarling. You should post many more photos. Perhaps you have some in swimwear, or maybe wearing even less?
No mistaking what he was after, so her reply was less friendly, but still polite.
That’s not a very nice thing to suggest, and it makes me think you are not a nice person. Please don’t leave comments like that again.
Unsure if blogging was going to be something for her, Gillian clicked off the blog and had a quick look at Amazon instead.
The next morning, there was a new follower, and he had left a nice comment.
There is nothing wrong with feeling the way you do. If you can manage to stay in and be happy, that’s your choice. I feel the same way, but I have to go out to earn money, and all the time I am outside, I feel anxious and sick to my stomach. I have lost jobs because of not being able to go out, and all my doctor could suggest was tablets or meeting a counsellor. I don’t have a blog, but I have followed you and commented through my email address. You can contact me anytime, and I will be happy to help you, or just chat. Matt.
That was more like it. A nice helpful person who wasn’t pushy and didn’t want her to post rude photos. So she replied immediately.
Thanks for your offer, Matt. I will definitely be in touch by email soon.
Now she had to decide whether to use the email she had created for the blog, or get a new one. A new one would be best, as it wouldn’t have her real name on it. So she picked Staceydarling@hotmail.co.uk It wasn’t taken, so she didn’t have to mess about adding a number or any other letters. After adding Matt as a contact, she thought about what to say to him. Then she thought some more about it while eating a fresh cream choux bun, washed down with a mug of hot chocolate.
One of her favourite breakfasts.
She felt more relaxed using email, as nobody else would see it.
Dear Matt. Thanks very much for your comment, and the invitation to chat on email. I feel the same as you about going out, though it only started recently. Even putting the dustbin by the gate made me feel as if I was going to pass out, and I came over all dizzy. I suppose I am lucky that I don’t have to go to work, because I definitely couldn’t cope with that. I get my shopping delivered and buy everything online. How about you, how do you cope?
Presuming he would reply immediately, she sat waiting, feeling a little deflated when no reply came back straight away. Still staring at the screen, the door buzzer made her jump. On the camera, she could see that Kirsty, the woman next door. She was wearing a leather jacket, and had pink bits dyed into her hair. Her arms were folded, and she was tapping one of the heavy shoes on her feet. There was nothing for it but to go to the door.
It looked like she wasn’t going to go away.
When she opened the door, Kirsty didn’t smile. If anything, she looked grumpy.
“Hi, I’m Kirsty, and I live next door. We are having a housewarming party this weekend, and thought you might like to come. You don’t have to bring anything, there will be food and drink there. It’s going to be in the garden, we have got some canvas pergolas in case it rains. What do you think?” Gillian looked her up and down.
“No, but thanks for asking. I don’t go out, not even next door”. Kirsty looked even more annoyed.
“Well it’s going to be noisy, and go on until late. So don’t complain, you have been invited”.