VI. Virtual Angst.
Updated: Mar 31
It had been a season since their first conversation and Simone had steadily adapted to the package that was Adwoa and all that it came with. Her casual vulgarisms. Her random, but subtlety apt GIFs. Her constant and even obsessive indulgence in time travel talk. Her nagging and uncalled for midnight vid chats. One of those midnight chats had ended in a bet with Simone having to run naked to the apartment gardens deep into the night shouting “I AM A FIREMAN, SOMEONE COME EXTINGUISH ME!”
He didn’t know why he entertained these out-of-character excursions but each time he indulged he felt a new path to another world had opened. All roads leading to Adwoa. The phenomena that had raged throughout his life. Turning all that was up, sideways, inside out, then throwing it out of this universe.
“Ok, Ok. I got it.”
“I didn’t mean for it to be in caps.”
“I don’t know why we even message still.”
“Cos we are idiots. Well, our avatars are.” Avatar bent down and pulled down its pants.
“Probably have some type of disorder.”
“Oh yeh? Where from this dis-order Simone.”
“Dunno - I have nuthin smart to say —-“ Avatar standing with hand on chin. Thinking.
“When did you say you would be back in New Accra? I don’t want to be the guy to say, but we’ve been talking for months …” he stopped to see what she was typing.
“Months? I thought it had been days?!!”
“Shut up! Months, weeks, days. And I haven’t even seen you, isn’t that strange?”
“Well us texting each other is strange —- I get you tho,” her avatar’s heart burst from its chest.
“But I don’t know if it matters so much, you’ve seen me, I’ve seen you - we’ve done things together (Shy face) (cactus).”
“I know what you are getting at (loving face) - I will be in Accra next week for sure, and we can make all those things really real. Otherwise, you should really think about going out once in a while on your own - for fuck sake Simone!”
“I’ve heard that before (rolling eyes).”
“You know I’m nervous about it, not like I don’t want to see you.” Simone stops typing so he could voice note Adwoa instead.
“Can I say I love you? Is that right to say? Does it fit? Or is what I feel still in that place between the unknown and lust?”
“Oh, Simone - “ Adwoa still chose to text. “I don’t know what to say to you about that, I’ve told you that I have done this before and I know what to look for, and I can tell that I like you. But love is something else, something you don’t question.”
Simone, somewhat aware of his lack of emotional maturity, stopped to assess what Adwoa had just said and immediately felt as if he was being condescended to. But he revisited that impulsive emotion and tried to regain some handling of the bubbling in his stomach to very little avail.
Layered on top of these thoughts, and stomach propulsions, were his awareness of Adwoa’s own depth as a person. Her ability to perceive people, and in particular Simone, who now felt like he was under a microscope. The core of these anxieties was the fear that the person he could not stop thinking about would lose interest in him. Get fed up. His uncool. His mushy stomach. His front teeth. His white lies.
Peering through the scope Adwoa would look at a squirming Simone and think ‘why am I looking at this specimen?’ He knew he was little more than a hermit. Something he acknowledged fully compared to the lovers that had intrigued Adwoa apparently; girls, boys, dashing, intellectual, demi-god, Simone saw himself as an anomaly which would surely fix itself in due course. He had a hard time putting together this puzzle of their instant connection. And because he didn’t understand it, he constantly floundered with their future and his insecurity would spread from the tip of his fingers to the gaps in time she would take to respond. The gaps in which Simone would slip into. Down until he was spat out again on the other side of the world, disoriented and sweaty-palmed.
Adwoa had become his life. He would agree that she took up more than 95% of his mind space. She was constantly there in every aspect of his day except the physical. His infatuation for her stretched into every URL of her virtual existence. He couldn’t avoid her. He didn’t want to. And it seemed she didn’t want to as well. She always responded. Always reacted. Always laughed. Called. Recommended. Sent. And was there in every sense of the word, except there with him as he struggled to free himself from the paralysis that his affection for her was causing.
“Are you ok - Simone?”
“Yes. Sorry. E messaged me.”
“Really? Don’t lie to me. Tell me what you are thinking,” she sent through a voice note. Her avatar knocking at the screen.
“I am not lying. He messaged me asking about the catalog!” Simone felt from the pit of his stomach the boiling that threatened to explode.
She tried to call but Simone declined. She tried again. He declined.
He couldn’t talk to her. If he did, he would have ruined everything.
He waited and then a message popped up on his screen and the word was so simple, yet so penetrating that Simone felt it twist his heart. Just two letters.
He tried to say something, but nothing came. He knew she had warned him repeatedly about his white lies. He knew she knew that he said them to deflect from his deeper angsts. He knew she had dealt with it before. He knew she hated the pettiness of it. But it was there, and he couldn’t find a way to blurt it out. So he let it fester and she turned away from it. From him.
The LED lights in the apartment steadily brightened the stretching shadows and the shades on the paneled windows rolled up to reveal the sparkling glimmer of New Accra’s night. A soft notice on his pad asked Simone to stand and walk around for five to ten minutes since he had been seated for over an hour. A small summary of his calorie intake was displayed with the net results showing him on the negative. Finally, his heart rate and other vital measurements concluded the brief report, which suggested that Simone was anything but living healthy at that point. He hardly was attentive to this, of course. Staring at the conversation with Adwoa wondering how it had gone so wrong.