Bernard Page 12
hour before staggering, exhausted with bewilderment and grief, to bed.
     "But you said you wouldn't go away," she said in an agonized whisper before being overcome by sleep, despising herself for her gullibility even as she wept over the loss of her love.
     Carmen found herself almost unable to check her personal email for weeks afterwards. But eventually she did and clicked through 387 spam messages and dozens of emails from family and friends without seeing (and her heart seared with pain the moment she realized it) a single email from him whose words on the computer screen she had once kissed.
     Eventually, after months had passed~moving through life like a zombie, between her apartment, her office, the grocery store, and the video store, where she increased her regular movie watching fourfold~she got over it; "forget" would be too strong a word. Then one day the

fear and nausea that just looking at her com-puter had caused her for so long vanished, and she went back to her usual evenings of checking email, surfing the web, checking online dating sites for the member profiles, and so on. She still wondered who had been her "online paramour" (as she thought of him now, with a little arch sarcasm to protect the wound that was still healing, with infinite slowness, in her heart), and she met her male friends and colleagues with a hint of suspicion and hostility, wondering which one of them might have been him.

     A year and a half later, Carmen was audited by the IRS. It came out of the blue, and she wondered what the red flag might have been that caused it.
     "No red flag," the auditor had said, sympathetically. "Just your unlucky day. We audit a certain percentage of returns each year. We choose them at random," he simpered. "To be fair." Carmen gave him her death glare,