Bernard Page 4
stopped, sucked in her breath. Clicked.
And opened her eyes.
     "Carmen: yes i m here." looked back at her in the IM box under "TJX037X2: r u there?"
     They looked kind of cute together: they almost rhymed.
     A message appeared directly beneath hers.
     "don't go way"
     She typed: "ok."
     Silence. She suddenly became aware of the fan belt whirring hoarsely in the old CPU.
     "it hard 2 do this"
     Carmen felt a twinge of pity.
     "i know."
     Then: "i been waiting long time 2 do this"
     She typed: "how long?"
     "2 long"
     A pause, then "how long?" she typed again, insistently.

     "long as u have own me"
     She broke out in a giggle, despite herself. They really should spellcheck these things. She pulled herself together and typed: "i don't 'own' u!"
     "oh yes u do"
     "don't be silly, people don't own people today. you mean known me."
     She laughed at the unconscious presumption she had put into that last phrase.
     Another pause. Suddenly she was frightened he might have gone away: "r u still there?"
     A punishingly long pause. Then: "yes i m still here"
     She felt light-headed: she didn't realize she had stopped breathing, waiting for his reply.
     "i was afraid u had gone away."
     "i won't go way"
     Then a pause.
     "i promise"