From Me To You

This short story was for a competition I recently entered, it had to revolve around young people and the Internet. Hope you like it!

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1. Beth-Sam

FROM: Me

TO: You

 

Dear Bethany,

 

The Internet is nothing but an inanimate, invisible canvas on which we, as a society and a race, paint our emotions and our dreams. Sorry to sound so dramatic, it’s just I’ve always thought that weird. You know, how us human beings can become motivated from what we see on the Internet, how we can fulfil our dreams and can fulfil each other’s just from text, images and videos. It makes you wonder how we ever did anything before searching on YouTube, and getting all teary eyed at the results, of the words: ‘Inspirational videos.’

 

What’s stranger than that? Falling, or rather tripping up, in love only because you’re paying some lousy, unreliable, selfish corporate organisation to have access to the Internet and falling in love because, a girl a thousand and more miles away, did the same. Albeit to an equally but ultimately different narcissistic corporation. Because, and I don’t care what any dating website tells me, that is simply not natural. There’s a reason why badgers and squirrels and mountain goats have not resulted to fibre optic cables and flat screen monitors to, well, do what they have to do. If every other species sharing our mossy rock can cope just fine without having to log on and log in then why do millions of us pay to find our soul mates on such cold canvases as dating sites? I don’t even have any money if I wanted to.

 

Well, I do have the money, but as you know, it’s reserved for Noise books and Noise memorabilia and Noise t-shirts and other such trivialities. That is where this story really begins; I owe as much to that band as I owe the Internet for all that has happened to me since that day.

 

Noise are a revolution, a musical enigma, if you don’t know Noise you don’t know life. As dramatic as that sounds, it’s true; without a crumb of doubt they are, quite simply, The Beatles of our generation. But trust me, I am not a sucker for those types of pursuits. I resent how everyone at school is always chatting about this film or this week’s generic chart topping freak, I’m not a sheep, and I’m not part of that inescapable herd.

 

I am definitely not a sheep, okay? Just as long as you don’t think I’m a sheep.

 

As I said, the Internet is a vacant canvas, one built for our dreams and the best of humanity. If you were to educate extraterrestrial life in everything our world is and isn’t would you not just show them the Internet? Websites like YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, they all give us a space to paint our part of this invisible world, all you need are some basic computer skills and you’re away.

 

By chance, it was my discovery that when two paintings are placed alongside one another they sometimes, and only sometimes, work. Occasionally they even compliment one another. Enter you. Enter Bethany Harrison. These emails, these series of ones and zeros, they are us.

 

FROM: Me

TO: You

 

Hey, As promised, here I am! I am right here.

 

Christ, I feel stupid reading these. I am right here? I am what? For God’s sake, Sam. We met on a Noise forum, exchanged a handful of messages to one another for a good couple of weeks and just at the point I was praying she would, Bethany found whatever gusto I lacked, plucked up the courage and asked for my email address. I was nervous, a Mexican jumping bean of angst, so just bear with me.

 

It was really good talking to you the other night, hope you did get some sleep in the end and that I wasn't keeping you up, I can imagine you weren't looking forward to school in the morning - not that I blame you! Har-har.

 

Kill me now. I really want to make clear that I am not actually insane. I was just nervous and nerves make me, well, a tad insane. 

 

I know we’ve talked about this a bit before but just in case you’ve forgotten (which I’m not saying you have, I just, you know, this might be a reference for you?), here are some quick facts, a bio if you will.

 

More despair.

 

I was born in a town called Evesham, if you Google or look it up on Wiki, you’ll be able to confirm my reports that it’s a fairly uninteresting, mediocre and bland spot. Evesham boasts a brochure full of zero tourist attractions, with nothing and nobody of note. Nice river though. But hey, you’d probably say that about your town or city or village, wouldn’t you? Though perhaps you wouldn’t, from what I gather you Americans are a smidgen more loyal to your hometowns than the Brits. I’d happily have that stereotype corrected though.  Maybe we’re all like that, I have friends in London and Edinburgh (that’s in Scotland, by the way, but Scotland is actually a part of the UK)

 

I do regret the patronising undertones here.

 

And they’re always complaining about how boring where they live is. To me, London is some Mecca for awesome, the cultural hub of England, it’s where EVERYTHING is happening. Sometimes we have a cheese contest in Evesham. Often we don’t. Like you, I’m in my final year of school, but I’m not 100% certain if I’m going to go to university or college next year. Not that you can be 99% certain. My friend, probably my closest friend actually, Jack, he’s going to university later this year. He’s utterly hell-bent on it all. Doesn’t understand why I’m not going, he goes on and on about how I’m just resigning myself to a lifetime of working rubbish jobs, I work in a bra shop by the way, which isn’t weird at all. It just doesn’t feel right. Like when you know your only motivation to go to college is the knowledge that Noise was formed from a bunch of friends meeting up at some fresher’s social, you know that you shouldn’t be committing so much of yourself and, let’s face it, money to the whole idea. Maybe I will be working in a bra shop forever, maybe I’ll be known as the bra man.

That should probably bother me.

Sorry, this is less of a bio and more a rant. It’s nice though, that we don’t really know each other, I can’t talk to Jack about this without him not understanding. Is it normal for the people closest to you to not get you at all and for a girl you’ve had a few conversations with on a forum with to completely know where you’re coming from? I’m presuming you do. I’m an optimist, an optimist who sells bras and lives in a town by a river.

So… I hope I haven’t scared you too much! Haha. It’d be great to hear from you.

Sam Matthews,

 

I considered leaving kisses but only the French kiss people who are near strangers, right? Not that I have anything against the French, I work for a French company and sometimes I have croissants for breakfast. Oh, and no, I don’t know why I told you I sell bras. I don’t want to sell you a bra. I’m sick of that nonsense actually. Bras. It was an email sent with the intention that she would be inspired to write back, it was not an email sent with the hope that she would. Why would she? It’s not like there’s not enough British fans of Noise going around.

 

FROM: You

TO: Me

Sam :)

I’m thrilled that you wrote to me, thank you very much, I enjoyed your email. This was an encouraging opening. And no, you didn’t keep me up; I hardly sleep at all these days actually. Something wrong with my brain.

 

To this day I still don’t actually know if there’s some medical context or if this was a one of those jokes that’s not funny.

 

I feel pretty honored you tell me this stuff about yourself.

 

Needs a ‘u’ in that honored. But I’ll let you and your crazy American-English slide.

 

I mean not the stuff about Evesham, although that’s nice too, I did Google it and it looks kinda pretty. Apparently Edmund Hort New is a notable person of Evesham, he was an artist, apparently.

 

I shrugged.

 

I think you’re right about people not really caring a great deal about their hometowns. We’re a curious species really, and although I would be quite taken with Evesham, you’re just used to its quaintness (think that’s a word – meh if it’s not). I get it. I mean I live in DC, and shit me, tourists by the truckload, I mean planeload, every day of the year. I’m fucking fuckity sick fuck of it though. I’ve lived here since I was six or seven, one of the two, and all I see is its snobbery, its richness and its oppressive, vomit provoking patriotism.  I guess you wouldn’t mind a holiday to Washington though, yeah? If you’re nodding

 

I sure as hell was.

 

Then you can always come and visit me :)

 

That made me blush a little.

 

But anyway, gone way off course here, I’m honored you feel you can talk to me about your college worries. Just to set the record straight, I, that’s me, am going to college but it’s not like its Ivy League or anything, I’m just doing a silly music course. I think your friend Jack is being unfair. I’m sure you don’t want to be selling bras for the rest of your life either, but you’re doing what’s right for you and that’s great, it really is :)

My friends would be a bit more understanding, it’s people that off me piss. People who look at you funny when you say you’re not going to Harvard or Michigan or anywhere grand and preposterous and snigger when you say you want to teach kids the guitar. I don’t like people. Friends are okay.

It’s not my future that gets me down and beat though, it’s the present. There’s a lot of bullshit with my Dad flying about, and when bullshit takes flight, it’s kinda hazardous. I’m sure it will work out though, this stuff usually does, the universe has a way of correcting itself. You know that tunnel in Switzerland, CERN? You know how people went nuts about how it was going to end the world? I do realize that’s nuts, by the way. Well, it keeps on breaking down, and some nutters out there think that’s the universe stepping in to stop us destroying it. Crazy, right? But I do kinda like the idea. If you haven’t already, and I’m going to be very surprised if you haven’t, Noise put up a video on their YouTube page. A sorta thank you message to their South American fans, it’s hilarious.

Write to me soon

Bethany

 

It was the weirdest thing. I’m the type of guy who puts off everything until the very last second. But Bethany would have to cope with less than soon. I felt compelled and I don’t usually feel compelled.

 

FROM: Me

TO: You

Hey,

I’m glad, albeit taken aback, that you’re able to muster something inside you that can generate affection towards Evesham, but fair enough. I guess you’re right, we’re a species of curiosity and although there is a certain comfort to be found in familiarity, there is a greater satisfaction to boundaries set only by the horizon.

 

That sounded fantastic.

 

But that’s why I’d love to go to Washington, if you were serious about your offer?

 

It occurred to me for the first time the terrible likelihood that she wasn’t.

 

I don’t know how I’d be able to afford it. Well, obviously I would have to save, but it’d be worth it, I’m certain of that. Anything to get out of Evesham.

Jack’s ok. We’ve known each other a long time, since we were tiny people. He’s just set in his ways, like I’m set in mine. Each of us in a mould that, with a healthy dose of irony, the other helped form. Since about the age of thirteen Jack’s life has all been about getting into King’s College or Queen Mary’s or SOMETHING London based. I don’t blame him for it, I don’t know how he’s going to keep alive his relationship with Lisa, but that’s for him and her to figure out. I’m single, if you were wondering.

 

Oh, how my fingers were crossed.

 

I’ve always been single, which isn’t to say I’ve never not done anything with a girl, it just means I’ve never found anyone right for me. Maybe I’m a difficult person. I can’t seem to find anything in life that feels right, and I can’t interact with girls in a way that makes any of them feel right, the sort of feels right that feels right beyond friendship, right? Right.

I think that’s great about the whole guitar-kids-strum-along-nicely plan. I remember you telling me you play guitar, I dabble with a keyboard (of the musical variety) but only occasionally and alas, never very convincingly. Can I ask what has happened with your Dad? I have done, but let me know if it wasn’t ok for me to ask.

Look forward to hearing from you soon,

Sam, X

 

That was a risk, a gamble, a throw of the dice. A kiss. X

 

FROM: You

TO: Me

Sam!!

 

Eager.

 

Writing back a second time is impressive. I am impressed.

 

I mentioned I regretted being patronising in one of our earlier emails, actually, I don’t.

 

I was deadly serious about Washington.

 

You know what, actually? Before we do get onto the deadly serious stuff, your Dad, Mark, I’ll send this now but carry on my tribute to us tomorrow. It seems a bit silly, given that you’re across the room from me, to be sending you an email. But that’s what we are, right?

 

Love (from me to you)

 

Sam

 

Xxx

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