Carmen hesitated, and then, glowing with
something she had not felt in a long time~something like trust~typed:
"i believe u."
A moment after her response popped into the
IM box, the machine crashed. It did this regularly, and always at
the worst possible times. She might need to call Barry, her geek friend
and cyber savior at the office. He'd stop by after work tomorrow:
he was always willing to do her a special favor.
From then on, every night, if her machine
were working and Barry didn't have to come in for an emergency save,
Carmen would find a new email from TJX037X2. And as time went on,
she found herself answering with increasing freedom. He (she was sure
it was a "he"~he never asked the sorts of questions her girlfriends
did) would ask her about her day, and she'd tell him about the firm,
curious incidents, her psycho
landlord. Sometimes he sent her an Instant Message, and they chatted
about nothing for hours before she sud-denly looked at the time~always
long after midnight~ and signed off with a breathless, "i have to
work tomorrow :( good night!"
She had tried to get him to give her
his name - but he always put her off with a "later - i promise" or
"not yet." She at first wondered at his coyness, but soon got used
to it and stopped "nagging" him (her word). She even found herself
rather liking the mystery: she often found herself daydreaming during
the day: just who is he? And she would glance around her at the office
or imagine one or another of the men she knew who might just be her
mystery cyber lover. Definitely not Jack Kushner! And she realized
that not knowing was in a way sweeter than knowing: she could imagine
him as anything she wanted.
It went on like this for weeks. But then
one evening, before turning on her home computer, she felt a wave