She typed the word help on her computer screen. The screen flickered for a second, a reply soon came.
She typed back a hurried little flurry of words and a letters. She sent an attachment of an image. There was a window, the sun stretched out onto a bed that had a dark red bedspread, a few teddies sat on top of the pillow. A mirror from the cabinet positioned next to the bed showed up a white desktop computer, a face of crying girl mirrored on the screen.
Her hair was shoulder length, dark and curly. Her green, dark eyes were red, her mascara was streaming down her checks.
How can I help? Came the reply.
There was no movement from her, no typing, no little letter to assure the person on the other end that she was still alive.
She sat, glued to her screen, stuck to her chair, wondering what she could do. She put her hands to her face and cried.
U still there? Hullo?
No reply. She took a deep breath of the stale, still air and positioned her fingers on the keyboard keys.
Sorry, I had to do something- a lie.
So how can I help?
Well, I don’t know at least you can talk with me, you know not many people have time to talk anymore.
Hmmm, I know what you mean, not many people talk, talk anymore
She sensed the little hint of a joke but she was in no mood to be humoured at least not for the moment.
Have you ever thought of killing yourself? she typed.
There was a pause on the other end; she nervously had a little bite at her nails.
I guess, yeah sometimes, you know it seems difficult enough…things do anyway…
Yeah, she typed back, my sister is in some mental institution, apparently mental illness runs in the family, and my mother’s an alcoholic.[/i]
The screen went quiet again, whoever was on the other line may have decided that there were better people to talk to.
Sorry didn’t mean to scare you, just it’s pretty tough for me at the moment.
Yeah, I guess it would be. Do you have any friends or anything with who you can talk to?
No not really. You know no one to really talk, talk to.
Yeah sure I’m going nowhere for the moment.
Sure to be sure
And you sure you want to talk to me, you know I have a lot of baggage.
Baggage doesn’t come cheap these days.
A little smile stretched across her face, it’s a shame computer screens can’t pick that up.
So you go to school?
I’m in fifth year, what year are you in?
Sixth, I should be finishing up soon, seems to be dragging on a bit.
I know it seems like it’ll never end, school sucks though at least it’s a break from my home.
You don’t seem too talkative.
Yeah sorry I’m not the most conversation savvy person. It’s just me and my mum at home, and the dog Jess.
She received an image file and opened it up. It’s a picture of a yellow golden retriever with its tongue hanging out. Must be Jess.
So you like sports?
Yeah, not really a sporty person but at least I enjoy watching sports, you see when the Cougars beat the Crystal Lakers 89-83? That was a great game.
So you like basketball, I watched that game, it was down to the wire.
So you like your sport?
Yeah I played basketball, but I had to give it up, mum gave me some silly excuse. I think she was just jealous. I can’t even remember the reason for it. She’s a real bitch, doesn’t even know what she is doing half the time at least she tells me that, I think she drove my sister mad. You know she can drive people mad. Sometimes I think I’m losing it.
There was a pause only this time it was longer and intense. She watched the light filter in through the net curtains as she listened to the whirr of the machine echo throughout the room.
She glanced at the screen again, he was typing.
Yeah but you haven’t lost it yet, have you? You’re still talking to me.
She liked his sense of humour, she hurridly replied.
Should I be afraid of you.
You know, I don’t know you, you don’t know me, you could be a serial killer for all I know.
Haha! And how do I know that you are not a serial killer yourself. You know men are not the only ones known for being serial killers.
They had both extensively checked each others profiles, certain key facts had been established such as age, sex and location.
So you’re 17?
Yep, been checking out my profile?
I’m sure you checked out mine, and browsed through all my pics while you were at it.
Yeh, I’m not a stalker! Ok I’ve been busted. Found out where you live too!
Yeah stalker you! You’re about an hours drive away. Hey, why don’t you have a pic of yourself?
Aw…couldn’t be bothered, you know showing someone a pic could mean picking up a stalker for life.
And have you had any bad experiences, are you scarred for life?
No, no just a precaution, you have to be careful these days. I don’t normally talk to random strangers you hear all sorts of stories.
Well you know like the guy on the other end might not be a 13 year old kid but might be a 40 year old man you know…
Yeah…so you are 17 right?
Yep. Ok I’m sending you a pic now.
She opened up the attachment this time Jess was lying on the bed with a boy’s arms wrapped around the dog. The boy had short brown hair, a little bit of stubble on his chin, bright blue eyes, and wide bright smile.
Hey, pretty boy.
You’re not supposed to laugh. You’re one of the privileged ones that got a pic of me!
She felt good now, actually quite happy, she forgot about her mother that had passed out on the couch downstairs, about the fact that she quit school just to support herself and her mum.
Actually I’m not in school, I have to work with mum’s boozing and all.
What was with all the long pauses?
Yeah, sure I haven’t really been in school much everything is on hold at the moment, something came up that is stopping me from school at the moment. But sure what type of music do you like?
Rock, mainly. You?
Kings of Leon, a bit of ACDC, and maybe some Muse. Depends what I feel at the time.
Yeah, Kings of Leon are cool. I like White Pony by the Deftones.
Now that’s a good album.
She didn’t hear her come in the door but all of a sudden she was face to face with her mother. The smell of her breath was an awful rotten, choking smell that could suffocate if someone was to stand within two feet of her.
“What’s with all this computer stuff!??” The mother roared.
“Ehh,” the girl replied.
She had no time to tell the boy what was going on or a: give me one sec, brb
Her mother’s fist flew through the air striking her neatly at the back of her head.
The tears came back to the girl as she flew up and readied herself for another torrid of abuse. Would it ever stop, would mum just be a mum and not a deranged psychopath?
Her mother starred at the screen.
“Who you talking to, who you talking to? You know you have to watch who you talk to. You know all the time you spend on this internet is a waste, you’re spending all my money!”
She tried to focus on the screen, tried to readjust her eyes, but it was pointless. “Mum I was doing nothing wrong!” She yelled back, if she could scream loud enough she would tell the world that she wanted out.
“Yeah that’s right yell at your mother!” She stretched out her arm and grabbed a handful of her daughter’s hair. Her mother’s nails dug into her scalp – blood followed.
You still there?
She couldn’t reply not with her mother throwing punches at her with one hand and the other pulling her hair. She tried to resist but she was no match for her mother who was a strong burly woman.
The mother left the room, her daughter was once again reduced to tears. Her face was full of scratches and bruises, and a little bit of blood poured here and there.
You still there?
She raised her fist high and then slammed it down onto the computer desk. What to do? She needed help.
She had to let it all out, so she typed, my sic mother nearly killed me! I swear to God someday I’ll…
It was his turn to go silent. It was eerie. She lowered her head onto the table and cried, her life was the pits no one could have a worse life than her.
Sorry to be such a pain, she typed trying to be brave, you must really think I’m nuts.
No, not at all, I actually enjoyed chatting, even though I never chat with random strangers and it’s odd we live so close you know I could have even seen you before, or passed you.
Yeah. She shook a frightened kind of shake that tore any bit of self-worth out of her. Hey, you know thanks for taking your time to talk with me, I’m not the best to talk to at the moment, but I would like to be able to chat again, add me as a friend or something.
A friend request arrived, it was the boy, -Jailbreakboy_1976. An obvious ACDC fan. She quickly added him and left the chat room after chatting for a good while longer. For some reason she felt good afterwards, when she sank into her bed and when sleep took charge she smiled. At least she had someone to talk to.
Several weeks passed and the girl had developed a special relationship with this oneline user. She felt she could say whatever she wanted to him and he didn’t freak out or log off, she was actually quite happy the chats she had on a regular basis gave her the needed lift to get her through the day.
Then the conversations stopped without warning. Not even an email or a quick, Sorry but I won’t be able to talk for a bit, or the internet will be down for a few days, sorry. Nothing. She missed him, missed the smile that he brought to her face, even though her abusive mother would show no sign of letting up.
There was no milk in the fridge again, typical. After several roars and screams from her mother to go get milk and groceries she went to the nearest newsagents that stocked milk and staple foods. When she neared the counter to pay for the grocers she saw a picture of a boy with his arm around a golden retriever in one of the local papers. She picked up the paper to get a better look, it was him! The boy she had been chatting with! What was he doing in the paper! And there it was as bold as day in big lettering: Local boy looses battle – dies of cancer. It came as a shock. Stunned she read the article. It was local boy Michael Rivers, a big ACDC fan who died the previous day surrounded by friends and family. “Always had a positive outlook on life,” said one person in the article. “Always there to lend a hand,” said another.
She turned to leave the grocery shop, stunned by the news. She never knew he was dying, never knew that he was probably in agony when he was chatting with her. He didn’t tell her to shut up: “Everyone has problems; I’m dying what’s your problem?”
She looked up at the blue-grey sky, and thought maybe he was watching her, maybe he would be able to help her even more now to sort out her problems. Maybe he would.