Was it the first time she crossed my screen or the third time when I began to take note? It was probably the first time, but by the third time, I knew she was writing to me. Those first steps were hers in our mounting online relationship. I wrote to please her. I knew I did please her. I could feel her rapid breathing steaming out of the monitor onto my face. How did she end up riding along in the back of my head each day?
Linda, my wife, is the love of my life, of course. We’ve been married a while now. We get along fine. She’s my rock. She puts up with my crap. We work well together, always will. I’m not sure I want imagination in my marriage; it might make it hard to keep the daily stuff functioning if we added fire to the mix. When we have sex, less frequently now, we get the job done with the swiftness that comes from familiarity. I love Linda.
Then there’s my work. I’m good at what I do. I discovered it a long time ago, and just keep doing it. My thoughts are occupied creating solutions to the constant challenges. The challenge is what keeps me alive and on my toes. It’s my savannah where I pursue my prey with craft and persistence. One of the benefits of getting older is that experience makes the hunting more elegant, less muscular. I’m proud of my work and the fact that I keep a roof over our head and a comfortable retirement on the horizon. That’s me, expert hunter and provider.
Okay, I’m on the road a lot doing all this hunting. How I do it: I never check bags. I have express check-in at Hilton. I slip the key card in the door, hang my suit jacket, trousers, and shirt in the closet. Heavy starch on the shirts, hang immediately upon arrival, and you can get three days out of them. Two shirts for the whole week. I turn on the Weather Channel, open the laptop, and confirm my appointments for the next day and then check email. It takes over an hour to reply to the overachieving, ass-covering idiots at headquarters with urgent requests for reports. Then, finally, I stretch out my legs on the bed and unwind.
I open my private blog, my home away from home, my creative outlet. I see who’s written what, and leave a comment on a well-written post. Like everything I do, I take care and pride in my writing. This has been going on for a few years, and I like the persona I’ve developed. I know how to elicit the response I want. I guess you’d say it’s my “happy place.”
Then, as I said, she showed up. There are a lot of women blogging, and I have my favorites, but this one, this one got under my skin. Her writing style made the hair on my scalp vibrate. The subjects she chose in her writing amused and tantalized. Her tone was so familiar to me, I wondered if I’d met her somewhere. Why was she writing to me? I shifted my parts to accommodate her presence. She taunted and teased, she provoked, then scuttled. She understood about Linda and the hunting. She pressed hard on my soft spots with her intelligence and sensitivity. I’m not at all sure how I came to be beguiled, but I was.
One Friday I wasn’t on the road. In my office at home, I was doing expense reports, quarterly reports, and compliance training, when I opened a new tab. That’s the day it became something else. I typed her name in the search bar and crossed into a different zone. I sifted through everything about her, from images to addresses, ancestry and comments she’d left on blogs. I went back to her profile to check her Likes and Activity. I set up email alerts for her name. I followed her on Twitter.
I traveled further into dark space by setting up another character through which I could relate to her, so she wouldn’t feel my breath on her neck. I was ashamed and aroused by the way I was encircling her, knowing her every move, knowing her reactions to various stimuli and characters. The hunter was quivering.
It went on this way for months. My hours in those hotel rooms felt like minutes, waiting for her to appear. A good hunter has a sixth sense, a connection with his quarry, that tells him when the quarry has picked up his scent. He can feel the elevated heart rate. The tensing creature was about to dart. And she did. Was I hoping to bed her? No, not really, just ensnare her mind. This is the internet after all.
I still have Linda, and my work, and my writing. My writing just gets better and better. I’m sure a new writer will come along to pique my interest. I really love finding those interesting writers who arouse your curiosity, your sensibilities and your spear. I’ll be here waiting for them.
Emily Conyngham, 2013.