Bernard Page 7
     That should get him.
     There was no reply. This made her feel very uneasy.
     "may i guess at least?" she typed after a long pause.
     Still no reply.
     "will you let me know if i get it right?"
     No reply.
     The little IM box stared at her with its underscore flashing on the electric white.
     "jack kushner?" she typed. Then "bob ashton? brian lieu? bill winters? bruce sakura? mark filippi? orhan . . . jawad . . . ?" and Carmen listed the names of all the men she could remember she had worked or socialized with over the last year~it was not a long list.
     There was still no reply.
     Then she reached back to old classmates, old boyfriends, the boyfriends, even husbands, of girlfriends, old teachers, old crushes, old lovers~and the list grew,

until it filled the box and disappeared behind the box's upper bar: a long list of men's names followed by question marks, quivering in the flickering pixels of the glowing screen.
     "paolo? ted? enrique? . . ." she finally typed, remembering her first boyfriend, her first kiss, her first date, the first guy who had ever asked her out.
     And still there was no answer.
     "r u still there?" she typed, using those awful IM abbreviations he so liked, suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of loss~all those ... boys really, hardly men, that she had known, a few she had loved or who had loved her~faces, eyes, hands, arms, torsos, dim in memory however intense they had been, once~who had all but disappeared in the night of memory, of forgetfulness.
     But ... whatever his name was, was there no longer.      Carmen turned off the machine and, later, cried herself to sleep, whispering over and over, "I promise I won't ask