I looked at her face. The love of my life. I wished I could reach out and touch her, but I couldn’t. Because more than just distance separated us. We contented ourselves by talking through screens. That would have to suffice, for now.
The tips of my lips went up in a sardonic curve, my version of a smile, as she told me about her day. I couldn’t help but feel happy as she gushed about all the wonderful things that had happened. Then, her narrative complete, she hesitantly asked me, ‘’So how was your day?’’
I replied, almost instinctively, ‘’Oh nothing much.’’ Then I added as an afterthought, ‘’Talking to you was the best thing so far.’’
Her face fell as she realized my day was just as bad as any. She never asked me about it, but she knew. I thought back to those dark days before I met her. These days weren’t any brighter, but somehow, she seemed to make everything alright.
A natural introvert, I was a misfit and was constantly shunned everywhere, even in my own home, because of something I had no choice over. It would’ve been easy for me to take a wrong path; I would’ve done anything to feel like I escaped. But I held on, because I was stronger than they all realized. I never hurt myself or took any drugs. I was alone, with only my occasional doodles to keep me company.
And then I met her. The connection was instantaneous - and surprisingly, mutual. I still remember that day. She had come to talk to me even though it was pretty clear I wasn’t the type she usually mixed with. In more ways than one, she was my complete opposite. But we were united by our secret. I realized that true love existed.
I advised her to never be seen with me and to let no one know about us. I didn’t want her to face all that I had to. And no one would come between us, we didn’t have to convince anybody.
‘’Have you been listening to your mother again?’’ she asked me.
I nodded and said, ‘’I know you told me not to, but… sometimes… ‘’
‘’No. We won’t allow ourselves to be affected by that. Times are changing. We won’t have to be afraid any more. No more hiding.’’
‘’No more hiding, eh? It doesn’t matter. Let the times change when they do. I have what I need already.’’
Her face brightened. ‘’Of course you do.’’ And then she gave a short laugh. Ah! What a beautiful sound, her laugh.
We were silent for some time as we stared into each other’s eyes through the screen, despite the distance that separated us. Thank God for technology.
‘’I wish I could touch you.’’ I said wistfully.
‘’Soon.’’Was all she said.
Then silence for yet another spell. This is what I loved most about what we had. The silences were neither awkward nor uncomfortable. I enjoyed every second of it.
I heard some sounds from downstairs.
‘’Seems like Mom has some of her friends over or something.’’ I said.
‘’Yeah. But don’t ask me more. I don’t know.’’ I shrugged.
She smiled. ‘’I won’t.’’
That was when the thudding began. Again, and again, getting louder.
‘’Someone’s coming up. I’ll see you later. Bye.’’ I told her.
‘’Oh, okay. Bubye.’’
And as I waved, she asked me, ‘’What? You forgot?’’
I laughed. ‘’No. I didn’t.’’
I picked up the phone and rolled over to my back. I could hear voices in the corridor outside my room.
I brought the screen closer and pressed my lips against it.
‘’I love you too.’’ she cooed.
I sat up straight in my bed and turned by back towards the door.
‘’Bye.’’ I said, and I disconnected the call.
The door opened just as the screen went black.
‘’Yes, that’s my daughter.’’ I heard my mother say, possibly an answer to a question I didn’t hear. I didn’t turn back.
The guests must have asked something, because my mother said, ‘’No, no. It’s alright. She …uh…isn’t feeling well, that’s all. Let’s…er…leave her alone.’’
The door closed softly behind my mother as she ushered the guests back downstairs.
A solitary tear ran down my cheek.