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The Distant Presence

A random chapter of a book about two people who meet each other on the internet and in mysterious real life circumstances. Natasja and I never met for real so the “coordinated writing” took a fair amount of e-communication skills. Since women’s perception and feelings about life and the expression of them vary from men’s to a certain extent, the contributions from Natasja are in italic to offer you the possibility to refine your understanding of gender differences in response to various events.

 

Chapter VI

 

From that moment of physical contact on, I stopped believing in some sort of imagination. However, days passed without hearing or seeing any sign of her. Life took a dull turn, with her haunting me all the time. I tried all sort of scenarios mimicking the train of events preceding all the encounters to no avail. I missed her dearly, no doubt about that. The simple private pleasure I found in going over every episode in detail, remembering her canny reactions and words, her unpredictable moods, tried to catch her beautiful but mystifying features on paper. The need to know more about her was becoming almost obsessive every time I pictured her. I got goose pimples every time I thought she actually existed somewhere. Unless my wishful imagination was really playing tricks on me, everything that had happened to that time pointed to that fact.
Thinking about it became a spark for real time action. I put little I knew about her together. I knew her first name, she lived in a house with a pool in the garden and there is a road nearby, she owns a car and I figured her age to be late thirties. Her small town was in
Georgia and had a local hospital where I saw her daughter. Judging from her accent and the fact she was going out barely dressed around Christmas, it had to be rather south. On further speculation, I noted that she was probably a single mom but nothing else seemed very helpful to go on.

 I switched on the computer and clicked on people address search, typed in Shanna and GA,USA: Georgia: 158 Shanna's in all. Further searching car registration, divorces, singles and demographics didn’t help one bit. I needed more information, like a town or a last name or something. I sighed and gave it up, made a mental note to ask her out next time we’d meet. Feeling more useless than interested, I ended up in my chat channel, playing some music and let the frustration brood. Much to my surprise, Angeltoo was there, idling.

 

<Angeltoo> Hi Jan!
<Solbe> Hi, how are ya?
<Angeltoo> I'm fine and you?
<Solbe> Bored and a bit upset
<Angeltoo> Why?
* Solbe shrugs, feeling lonely I guess
<Angeltoo> Aaaww, sweetie...
<Solbe> What where you talking about the other day?
<Angeltoo> What was I talking about?
<Solbe> You were going on about liking me or sumptin and I got all confused
<Angeltoo> Well, I was confused as well, nm
<Solbe> What did you  mean? I know you better than nm'ing me
<Angeltoo> I don't wanna talk about it, Jan
<Solbe> Now I am getting really upset, what's wrong with you?
<Angeltoo> Ok ok, I sorta wanted to ask you what you would say if I loved you
<Solbe> For real?
<Angeltoo> Yesss
<Angeltoo> What would you do about it?
<Solbe> O dear, not much I guess. Except...
<Solbe> Why didn't you tell me before? It’s not a good thing to mix chat with real life, Angel.

*Angeltoo quit irc
<Solbe> Angel?

 

She left. I rolled my eyes thinking bad things about women and their wimps, I just couldn’t grasp what on earth was wrong with her, telling me all this about loving and then just leave when one needs them the most.
My mind went to Shanna again, considering “moving” there at my own wish, wander about a bit and find out. I walked to the valley and sat down in a shower of sleet and rain. It was crazy but I simply had  to try something just like that. I concentrated on the image of her eyes and what I saw beyond them. I closed mine, shivering and getting numb all over from the cold. After half an hour nothing had happened. I ran for some dry wood from the wood shelter, soaked it in petrol and started a fire. No small stuff, I piled up the wood and the flames soon reached a man's height. They lighted up the whole valley and my soaked clothes began to steam from the heat. The fire made a roaring sound with sizzling sounds as the melting snow hit it, sparks flew up in the air, enough to call out the devil. I tried to concentrate again and buried my head between my legs and my arms. The smoke hit me once in a while and I drifted off into a stupor.


I woke up when the fire slowed down and I felt the cold again. I opened my eyes, looked around me and smiled. I was somewhere else and taking it for granted that it was her house, I got up to find a bathroom to rub my smoky face and chuckled at the mirror imagining what she saw from there a couple of days ago. I dried myself with a towel and placed it carefully back where it was, covering up my presence just in case.

I tried the door but it was locked, opened a window and jumped in the garden, noting the expected presence of a pool with relief and started my mission. I walked to the road she had mentioned and looked it up and down. It didn’t look very promising at first: Just the presence of asphalt made it that. The rest was just empty grass- and farmland with scattered pine trees hiding few houses. I had to choose a direction and hope to find a street sign and possibly the name of the place. The sun was shining, it was warm, and I was dressed up for a blizzard. Any local, scarce as they may have been, would have found this odd enough to call the police. After a few hundred meters I found what I needed: A sign at a dirt road leading into a wood. Google Earth would take care of the rest.

I rushed back to the house jumped through the window again, carefully closed it. On my way to the infamous couch where I ended up before and hoped to leave from, a car pulled into the driveway  and sent me into a panic of being taken for a burglar by whoever was passing by. I didn’t even know how to get back to the valley just like that. I jumped out of the window again and sat down behind the garden shack.

With a sigh of relief, I saw Shanna stepping out of the car, clumsily balancing shopping bags. Figuring this was my chance to get back, I didn’t hesitate long, suppressed the little shame of intrusion and fear of shocking her and knocked on the door.
Naturally, I looked like a mess because she first stared at me in disbelief, looked me up and down and then burst into a laughing fit.
“What on earth happened to you? You look like you've slept in the gutter all night.”
“Well, I did in a way, I wanted to see you and managed to get here from the valley on my own. I did some walking around. I'm afraid I forgot that I don't know how to get back.”
“And you want me to help, I bet.”
Hm, well kinda. Yes.”
She opened the door a bit further and let me in. I follow her to the kitchen.

“You want some coffee first? You look like you could use some.”
“Some hot tea please if you have.”
She put on the kettle and started unpacking the shopping bags while I sat back with a complacent, comfortable feeling. I noticed an ashtray, lit up a cigarette and offered her one. She took it as a matter of fact and held my hands while I gave her a light. She shook her blond hair back and blew the smoke to the ceiling, with a look that would change to surprise if I would say something sensible next. I just thought, there she does it again, that untouchable and yet inviting attitude and I am dopey. There was little need left for laborious schemes to find out more about her in real life, so I took up the challenge. 
“Deserted place here, I didn’t see a living soul out there.”
“If you had, you’d be in the back of a patrol car by now. What did you expect to find, downtown
Atlanta?”

“You live alone?”

“Yes, divorced.”
“I see. How come?”
“Didn't work out well.”
She poured the water in a cup and dipped in a tea bag.
“Sugar?”
“Yes but no milk, please. Lemon if you have some.”
“No milk, no coffee. You have got strange feeding habits. How did you manage to get here, Jan?”
“Maybe I just wanted it enough to make it happen. But I don't really know how yet. I just put myself into an extreme situation because that seemed to trigger it usually.”

“Why did you want to see me? You were always so upset when it happened before.”

“Well, last time was a bit too real for me to ignore it as some annoying imagination. I could actually feel you and that left err... an impression on me. It convinced me that you existed for real. I had to find out.”

“So now you know and I do as well. Where do you go from here then?”

She could have fooled me but that was not an invitation to mind my own business and live with it. I saw she wasn’t telling me all that showed in her eyes and I knew I wanted more.

“First of all and for now, I want to go back where I belong. Now that I know where you are, perhaps we can try a more normal earthly way of getting to know each other, if that is what you want of course.”

I knew that was a hit when she cast down her eyes and smiled nervously.

“I wouldn’t mind trying that. I dunno, would you write me or something?”

I finished my tea and told her that was a good idea for starters but that I better be getting back. She nodded hastily and stood up. As we hugged much to me enjoyment, I waited for the flash and prepared myself to stand in the middle of an autumn storm, rushing for the warmth of my house. After a couple of seconds a dreadful feeling settled over me when I realized I was still there. I slowly let go and looked at her in panic. She seemed to find it amusing and smirked at my desperate muttering to get out of there.

“Well Jan, you should have thought about that before you came. Maybe it just takes a bit more time. I need to cook. Just sit down and try to relax. We'll try again later. If you want stay and have supper with me, I'd love that.”
“Okay then, might as well. Shall I help you cook or something?”
“Nope, I can manage fine by myself. Weren’t you into computers and stuff? If you want to do something useful, have a look at mine to see if it’s all right. Just don't mess it up.”
I gave her a grin, fooled a bit around until I noticed mIRC icon on her desktop, logged on while she clattered with pots and plates, joined my channel with the allocated nickname and smirked at Solbe being there on idle. I typed in “Hi Jan.” for a laugh when I get back, using her otherwise non-descriptive nickname. Next, I checked out the local user identity for future reference and ended up staring in disbelief at the screen when Shanna walked in and told me supper was ready. I only just managed to hit the close button and hoped she did not notice what I had seen.
A wonderful salad with all kinds of stuff, toasted bread and a glass of white wine awaited me on the kitchen table. I looked at her, raised my glass and chin hers. She smiled at me and I smiled back, thinking that under no circumstances she must know what I know now and with a sore afterthought on how this was going to change our existing relationship so thoroughly and forever. Gone was all the mystery, gone was a pleasant friendship with no ties, a mutual trust from a safe distance. I had no idea how to get on with Angeltoo from then on and tried desperately to keep the conversation casual feeling more and more uncomfortable as I got along.

“Thanks for all this, Shanna.”
“You're welcome, Jan.”
“What am I going to do if I can't get back?”
She choked. “You'll have to stay here, I guess.”
Geeze. It's evening here, when am I going to sleep? I can take the couch if I don't get back in time.”
“No way, it sucks sleeping in that thing.”
“You got some chair or something? I sleep easy in anything.”
She put down her fork, folded her hands, looked at me and said quietly: “You can sleep in my bed, Jan.”
“But where will you...?”
“Same.”
I just wanted to blurt it all out and set the record straight there and then. It was getting out of hand and the consequences were already piling up. I needed some time to think it over first. 

“Well, let's first try again to get me home again. I don't feel that would be appropriate, Shanna.”
I helped her put the plates away and ask her to try again. She shrugged and nodded. I kissed her lips and hugged her, feeling like a traitor but nothing happened. 
“Doesn't work, I hope your bed is comfortable.”
She poured another glass of wine and lit up a candle. It gave the room a very cozy look. We had another cigarette and just looked at each other. I was glad there was no need to speak. I knew this women and I knew her well. Strangely enough she didn’t seem to feel the need either. She went to the computer room and after a while I heard a song that I knew only too well.
Before I ended up in more embarrassing topics I just drank the rest of my wine and got away with wanting to sleep. Any further conversation might lead to a slip of my tongue. She solemnly took my hand and walked me to her bedroom. I took off my ruffled clothes and slid under the sheets before she walked in, switched off the light and joined me in bed.
“Jan?”
“Yes?”
“I'm glad you couldn't return.”
I swallowed the desire to tell her what I found out but just took her hand in mine and mumbled “Me too, good night. I'm tired.”
I felt her breath blowing in my ear as I felt sleep coming. The next morning I woke up at home, alone in bed again.

 

I answered the door to him standing there. He looked such a mess that I couldn’t help but laugh! He had leaves stuck to his clothes, his hair plastered to his head like he had been in a rainstorm and he smelled faintly of smoke. I invited him to come inside and fixed him some hot tea to warm him. We talked for a while and I could tell he had no idea who I was. He told me he needed to get back home, so I moved to hug him and realized he was still here. He couldn’t leave! I smiled, hid my panic and reassured him things may take a little time, but we would get him home. He seemed to relax so I invited him to stay for supper and try again later. After a light supper and some wine I sensed he was anxious to get home. We tried again with a gentle hug and kiss but nothing happened. I almost fainted when I realized he would be staying the night with me, here in my bed! With shaking hands I hoped he didn’t notice, I poured us another glass of wine. I put a song on that he would have recognized. I took his hand and lead him to bed. I was glad he could not go back and I told him this as he slowly drifted off to sleep.

Written by:      Natasja Ivanovskaya

& Ivan Lynnishkin (aka Solbe)

 

Read chapter I of The Distant  Presence

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