He clicked the loopy arrow at the top of his screen to refresh the page again. Her half-open mouth, sheathed in deep red lipstick disappeared briefly. His eyes flicked to the bottom of the window: “Waiting for www.facebook.com, Transferring data from profile.ak.fbcdn.net, Waiting for static.ak.fbcdn.net…” and then she was back again, frozen mid-sentence above his image, a repeating pattern of captured moments alternating down the page. He wondered briefly what the chances were that their two pictures had been snapped simultaneously, long before they met each other but no — his picture was from years ago and she looked basically the same.
At the bottom of the page were two copies of his picture in a row, and to see them there filled him with shame somehow. He’d made a pass at her, a vague suggestion of sexuality which he’d instantly regretted.
maybe without your clothes on
When he didn’t hear from her for a minute or two he’d tried to cover it up with a joke,
nah that would b cold and freezing LOL
and he’d been staring at the cursor blinking dumbly for a full five minutes since.
In the background, the soporific voice of Ira Glass opined nerdily about the “Google-ization of the mind,” some scientist’s notion that an increased reliance on technology and instantly-accessible information devices were having an adverse effect on long-term memory. He felt sort of “well, duh” about it and hadn’t really been listening for a while, though he had casually mentioned the topic in his initial mesage to her.
hey great to meet last night. I just saw that you like This American Life – funny cuz I’m listening to it right now! Anyway good to meet you, lmk if you want to get a drink sometime.
He’d been surprised when her reply popped up so quickly
hey! great to hear from you! I love Ira Glass would probably marry him if he wasn’t already 🙂
And suddenly his night had gone from blasé and lonely to a really great flirtation, the moments of which he recalled as he scrolled through the rest of a conversation that had been going on now for what, an hour? 9:20pm to 10:13pm and 10:15pm. A pretty good run. He typed the words even as he thought them
what happened to you?
but as soon as the third picture of him appared he instantly regretted the query. His stomach sank with desperation and he felt suddenly alone behind his screen.
Outside a reveler passed and he remembered that it was Saturday night, a night when pretty girls like Rebecca were typically out having fun. In all likelihood this is exactly what had happened — a chat with a stranger is all fine, but the moment a real offer crossed her table she would be out the door. Or maybe she had just been killing time before some Saturday date, dressed in those same incredible pumps she’d been wearing on Friday, long legs rising naked to the world and her flesh showing goosebumps as the sun dropped out of sight at Travis’s leaving-work party.
Travis was the guy all the girls said was a genuinely good guy and even marriage material, so some of that light would shine on him by association wouldn’t it?
In another window he pulled up youporn.com and searched for “legs.” He spent the next twenty minutes both forgetting and remembering her, at first looking for a porn starlet with long legs in high heels but finding that too depressing, going limp in his hand even as he tried to match the red lips on the screen to the frozen mouth of the image he’d been talking to for the last hour. Finally he rolled his mind back to high school and that first incredible girl, finding her proxy by clicking TEEN and masturbating to a video called “Babysitter loves anal with Dad!,” finally orgasming with his eyes closed and the faint taste of skin on his lips while the starlet grunted and groaned dramatically in the background.
When his climax subsided and he had washed his hands, he returned to the screen and closed several pop-up windows to get back to the Facebook chat. Each window now filled him with disgust at himself, these sad young women posing for him, their pleasure so clearly a performance.
Worse still was the feeling when he finally returned to the original chat and saw her face repeating on the page:
sorry i just found out my father died
i know that’s heavy. i don’t know what to say.
want to get a drink right now?
oh my god. I’m so sorry. I’m here.
but was informed that she was offline and would receive his message later.