Met Online

'Pling' Cassidy Mari Williams looked at her laptop that she had left opened on her desk. New Messages (1) was written across the screen, her hands started to shake as she clicked on the icon, while she debated wether or not she should close the browser window, while it loaded.

Hero56 is requesting your friendship - do you wish to accept or deny?

*****

She is shy and everything but popular.

He is the school jerk and nothing but popular.

They didn't know what they were looking for.

She didn't feel pretty at all.

He could have any girl he wanted.

They met online...

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3. Chapter Three | Met Online

Chapter Three

My phone buzzes on the coffee table next to me, stealing my attention away from the worn-out copy of Pride and Prejudice, which I’ve been finding comfort in for the last couple of hours. With one hand still on the book, holding it open on my current page, I reach for the phone and the screen comes to life underneath my touch.

Kickster: New Messages (1)

Driven by curiosity I slide my thumb across the screen, unlocking my phone and opening up the Kickster app.

Hero56 is requesting your friendship - do you wish to accept or deny?

Hero56? I’ve never heard of anyone by that screen name before. It can’t be Taylen, because her screen name is TayBear and she hardly ever uses Kickster anymore, and besides her there’s really no one else in the world who would want to be friends with me on there.

My finger hovers over the screen as I hesitate to deny the pending friendship. My parents have warned me about pedophiles and stalkers online enough times for me to know that sharing personal information with strangers online can have major consequences.

But I’m curious to see who it is hiding behind the username, actually wanting to get in contact with me and accepting a friend request on an app where the only name I go by is a, less creative, fictive username isn’t exactly sharing any personal information. Is it?

My logic sense has her lips pursed and arms crossed and she is shaking her head at me from her white leather futon, while my curiosity is lurking in the shadows of my mind, intriguing me as she daringly waves me over with a single finger and a sly smirk spread across her lips.

Despite my common sense, my curiosity ends up getting the best of me and before I have time to change my mind, or even contemplate it a second time, I have casted my vote.

Kickster: your friendship with Hero56 has been accepted.

You know those moments, right after you have made a major decision and there’s no turning back, where you regret everything you just did? That’s what happened with me.

I’m in the midst of panic driven, internal debate on whether or not I should block the username immediately, despite of having just accepted the friend request, or if I should delete my account entirely and pretend like nothing ever happened, when my phone buzzes again, alerting me of a new Kickster chat message.

Hero56: hey. It’s weird how one so seemingly innocent word can lead to so much panic.

The part of me, in which my common sense still reigns, is screaming stranger danger at me. But the rest of me; the part of me that is driven by my untamed curiosity, is dying to know what made this stranger want to become virtual friends with me.

Princess123: hi, I reply hesitantly, as my common sense reminds me that this is how every horror movie starts.

Hero56: how are you? I cringe at the message. I hate that question, mainly because those who ask always do it out of sheer politeness instead of genuine interest.

Princess123: I’m good, you? I tell them the same lie I always do when someone asks me how I am. It has sort of become a routine for me; simple answers to simple questions and then diverting the attention towards something entirely different.

Hero56: I’m all right, they reply and I sense that they too are lying.

Hero56: boy or girl? It’s a standard question to ask on social chatting sites like Kickster, but that doesn’t change the fact that it still gives me the creeps every time I have to answer it.

Princess123: girl, you?

Hero56: boy, he tells me and then the conversation dies.

My eyes flicker from my phone to my abandoned book and back to the screen again. As relieved as I am that the stranger hasn’t taken the conversation any further, there is that undeniable itch of curiosity still tearing at my insides and it prevents me from stopping my fingers as they run across the touch screen, forming a new chat message to the stranger. I need to know who this stranger is.

Princess123: do I know you?

Hero56: no.

No? I stare at the message in silence, touching the screen now and then to keep it from going black, as I rake my mind for a suitable reply. This stranger, added me out of nowhere, without even knowing me.

Princess123: then why did you add me?

Hero56: why not? He replies.

The guy is starting to freak me out. The way he is avoiding my questions makes me nauseous and the fact that I don’t know him makes me feel like I’m being set up for a joke. But the ache in my heart, created by Samantha and Hannah, earlier today, needs nursing and I’m in desperate need for some kind of attention to keep my mind off of all of the evil thoughts strolling around in my mind.

And just like that my curiosity has my logic sense convinced that one conversation with this stranger cannot hurt, and I promise myself that I will block him after this conversation.

Princess123: that’s not an answer.

I pull my bottom lip between my teeth as I wait for him to message me back, but when he doesn’t reply I realize that I have to be the one to push the conversation further, again, and it’s not doing anything to calm my nerves.

Princess123: where did you find me?

Hero56: luck, he finally replies.

I pull the blanket closer to me, so that it covers my entire body, from my chin and all the way down to my toes, as if it’s a shield that’s going to protect me from the discomforting feel I get from this chat. I should have deleted him the first chance I got.

Princess123: I don’t believe in luck, I type up and hit send.

Hero56: then lets call it faith.

Princess123: I don’t believe in that either and even if I did it wouldn’t be a proper answer, I tell him, getting a little pissed off at the way he keeps avoiding giving me proper answers.

Hero56: demanding, are we? His messages are starting to remind me of a crime show I once watched. They were trying to catch a serial killer who found his victims in online chat rooms. Maybe my parents were right in regards to their lectures on the dangers of getting involved with strangers.

Princess123: don’t change the subject, I reply before I reach for the television remote on the coffee table. I need the comfort that I know the background noises of the TV will provide. But as I stretch across the couch, reaching for the remote, my phone buzzes in my lap and I end up knocking over my half full cup of tea. The ceramic cup survives but the tea creates a pool of brown liquid on the living room floor.

“Shit.”

I throw my phone at the foot of the couch, not bothering to see exactly where it landed, and jump to my feet. I run for the kitchen to retrieve anything that can clean up the mess I’ve made and settle on a roll of paper towels.

I have used up almost the entire roll, by the time the tea pool is finally cleaned up from the floor, and I end up having to walk twice to the garbage bag in the kitchen and back, in order to discard of the stack of wet paper towels, because I can’t carry all of them at the same time.

In the midst of my tea pool cleaning madness I have forgotten everything about the stranger and our Kickster chat, but as soon as I take a seat on the couch again, out of breath and sweaty from my desperate attempts to clean up all of the tea before it could damage the floor, my phone buzzes again, making the whole couch vibrate like a mini earthquake is taking place on one of the cushions, and I’m instantly reminded of where we left off.

Hero56: your name was on the suggested list.

I’m stumped. I didn’t even know that there was a suggested list on Kickster.

Princess123: so you decided to chat with a stranger? The idea seems so absurd.

Hero56: why not? I needed a distraction. Funny - that was the exact same reason that I had originally created my Kickster account: because I needed a distraction from my life and every shitty thing going on in it. Well that and because Taylen had basically forced me to join the online social site.

Princess123: a distraction from what? I’m afraid that I will have to wait for his response, but it doesn’t take much more than thirty seconds before my phone buzzes with another chat message and for the first time in our short lived virtual friendship, I find myself curious to read his response.

Hero56: I needed a distraction from life, he replies and with those four words all of my discomfort toward him seems to vanish like the sun on a cloudy day. 

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