I remember the first time I saw your name pop up. It was such an uneventful day. I had classes all day (half of which I was asleep in) and had just finished the last chapter of my favourite mystery novel. All the extra time I had before bed, I decided to spend it browsing through the internet. It started with cat videos, then fun facts videos, then videos that made me rethink my entire existence. Then a google search on the types of caskets, how much funerals costs, articles advising on how to live life to the fullest and then I stumbled on the website. The website I met you on. It had just over a few hundred active users, and I scrolled down the list to whichever username stood out to me. After scrolling past all the Shaquille_oatmeal and im_in_jail_pls_bail_me_out, I saw your name. Three letters, short and simple... Ted. Curious, I sent out a quick, “Hey, what’s with your username?”.
And that was the beginning to an end.
That night we spent just 15 minutes chatting with one another, but you already made an impression on me. You told me how you just got out of a relationship and are trying to expand your friend circle. I told you how I have more than enough friends in real life but not enough online to make me fear for my life.
“Everybody needs a little mystery in their life,” I said.
And then we spent the next few nights chatting, playing games and watching a compilation of people falling down. You told me how your tears are drying up and how you started doing things you enjoy again. And then we exchanged numbers and started texting in the day. Random humorous out-of-context pictures flooded my gallery and numerous seemingly plain updates about your day filled my inbox. And then we started calling. From dusk till dawn, my life started revolving around yours. I don’t know when it happened, but I frequently catch myself glancing at my phone for any sign of you. When my notification bar was empty, I could feel my stomach sinking all the way to my feet. And when your name shows up, my stomach turns into a butterfly conservatory. Sometimes when we called, I could hear your smile on the other side. I wonder if you could hear mine too.
But that doesn’t matter anymore. I opened our chat for the first time in weeks, and I saw that you updated your profile picture. Your smile seems bigger than the one I heard through my phone. Your hands tenderly wrapped around her waist. All this while I thought you were slowly starting to get over her. I thought I was helping you get over her, but I didn’t realise you never once had that intention.
“I only visited the website because I know she frequents it.”
Hundreds of words I sent to you couldn’t compare with a singular “hi” she sent. I was foolishly playing a game I can’t win. It’s funny, isn’t it? I know I wished you all the best with her, but if I have to be honest? I want you to come back heartbroken to me again.
© 2021 Alison Lian