A minute passed. Then five. She gawked at the screen, dumbfounded. She had never expected anybody to go through her compositions, much less reach out. But, in a strange way, she felt an unusual connection with Visitor #2300. It seemed to her that this person, whoever they were, knew her, in a way nobody ever had before. In a way so intimate, that she felt all that separated them were the screens in front of them.
It was late, and she knew she had to be up early the next day. But she also knew, if she didn't respond tonight, she'd regret it. Even though it was around the time she usually sat down to write, her words betrayed her tonight. She could think of nothing to say to a seemingly regular compliment.
Heart pounding, eyes wide open, her fingers shakily typed the only response she could think of.
"Thank you, I appreciate you reaching out."
Although she secretly awaited a reply, any reply, she figured that'd be that. No prompt suggested otherwise. She switched screens and went back to her draft, knowing that she wouldn't be completing it tonight. Mustering all her remaining focus, she started reading, when the unfamiliar alert rang again.
"Working on the next one?"
Concentration had never been her strong suit. Especially if she found something intriguing elsewhere. Visitor #2300 was certainly all that, and more. Saving and closing her draft for good, she turned her attention to what was increasingly becoming a conversation. She knew she needed it. It had been so long since she'd had spoken to anybody outside of work and family, it almost felt like returning to civilization, coarse and unprepared.
"That's an impressive guess."
"It's that time of the night, isn't it? Your time. An hour or two before you publish."
She was flattered. Nobody, not even her dearest well-wishers had noticed the miniscule details associated with her habit of writing. To know that somebody out there had, made her feel precious, like her work was worth watching out for.
"I'm afraid I'll be a disappointment tonight, much like the past few weeks."
"I wouldn't be so hard on myself if I were you. Literature takes time. Great literature, more so."
"Charmed. But what I do is hardly literature. Most days, it's just the truth I live everyday."
"On the contrary, that's literature of the highest form, deriving its beauty from its authenticity."
"Sounds to me like everybody is a writer in that case."
"Of course they are."
"It's just that some choose to put pen to paper, while others don't."
"It's just that some choose to put pen to paper, while others don't."
She was beyond astonished. She didn't have many people she could discuss writing with. She didn't have any people who shared her opinions on the subject. And here she was, in the middle of the night, talking to a complete stranger, who not only held the same views as her, but also put them in the words she had been using all her life. She was wondering how serendipitous it was that they found each other that night, when a new message blinked.
"May I ask you a question? One I've been mulling over for a while now, and one can completely disregard."
"The first step to receiving an answer..."
"...is to ask the question. Right."
"Precisely. Besides, you've piqued my curiosity. Go ahead."
"Everything you write, your pain, your love, your passion. Is it all, in a buried-deep-within way, meant for somebody who will find it someday, and eventually, you?"
"You really have read some of my musings, haven't you?"
"Every single one of them, yes. It's hard not to go on once you develop a taste for it."
There was a palpable pause. Not because she didn't want to answer. But because she wasn't sure if she had one. Without giving it much thought, she had bared her soul for the world to see. It had always amused her how she could never be upfront in her daily interactions and yet be her most honest, forthcoming self while writing. Now that she thought about it, she realized that it was almost as if she had left little notes concealed amongst filler sentences, discernible only to those looking for them. It seemed that somebody had picked up on that, before she ever did.
"You know, it's absurd. I have always believed in the old-fashioned idea of love. The lanterns-in-the-sky, running-through-the-rain, grand-gestures idea. I still haven't figured out love in the digital era. I never wanted to. The idea of somebody falling in love while staring into their phone screen instead of my eyes? Sacrilege. But hypocritically, in a wildly unfair way, now that I think about it, I suppose yes. It seems that I'm surreptitiously hoping that the Universe will spit out a miracle in the form of some obscure-blog-reading romantic, tailor-made just for me."
She felt relieved. All her life, she had struggled with the extreme ends of spectrums. She oscillated back and forth, never knowing where she was going to rest. Acknowledging, and finally accepting her paradoxical expectations out loud brought her some comfort. She could almost feel Visitor #2300 absorbing every word she said, making sense of it as best as they could. She fully expected them to point out her unreasonableness, knowing she had no plausible defense for her ludicrous stance. And then came the reply.
"The Universe just might. But will you take that leap of faith?"
She was pleasantly surprised. She was prepared to be ridiculed, but instead, she was asked a question she often wondered about. A lifetime ago, she had posed this very question to somebody, hoping with all her might for an affirmative answer. She didn't get one then, and she wasn't sure if she could give one now. So, she just laid out what she hoped for.
"If the stars align in some divine design, I sincerely wish that I'm mindful enough to recognize it."
She saw Visitor #2300 typing. But she also saw them stop. She sensed hesitance across the screen. It was the first time in ages when she found herself so open in her communication, and she didn't want anything to come in the way of that.
"It's okay. Say it. Whatever it is."
After a small pause, the screen flickered.
"Who were they?"
"The ones who broke your heart?"
"Why do you ask?"
"It's a little hard to believe. Somebody being so passionately vulnerable without heartache."
"Doesn't everybody break everybody else's heart at one point or another?"
"It's fascinating, the way you dodge questions with such poeticism. Almost makes one forget about whatever it is you're hiding behind your words."
That last remark caught her attention. She had always been very private, seldom taking down her walls to let anybody in. Fending off exchanges that would require her to get real had become second nature to her. But nobody had ever called her out on it. Now that somebody had, she wasn't sure how to respond. She considered politely letting Visitor #2300 down, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. It had been a long time since she had felt so connected to anybody. This chat window felt like a sacred space, safe and inviting, and she refused to desecrate its sublimity. But she had to make sure this stranger was up for it.
"I only do it because most people asking the question aren't ready for its answer."
"I wouldn't be here if I wasn't ready."
"Are you up for a little story?"
The validation opened a gate. Somebody was out there, waiting for the words only she could say. Everything she had been quietly grappling with came pouring out in waves.
"Plato once wrote about how humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, the Gods split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves. `Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of their original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the primordial fissure of the human race.` He said that when a person meets the half that is their very own, something wonderful happens. The two are struck from their senses by love, by a sense of belonging to one another, and by desire, and they don’t want to be separated from one another, not even for a moment. These are people who finish out their lives together and still cannot say what it is they want from one another.
Now, I'm not deluded. I'm not sitting around for this apparent other half to show up. Even if I am only half of a soul, I'm complete enough for myself. Perhaps a little jagged at the ends from where I was broken, but whole. But, the theory does mention something I have always conjectured. Mending that incommunicable wound of the human soul. Because I do believe that we have been afflicted with one, all of us. That empty feeling gnawing at you in the middle of the night? That's just realization striking that at the end of the day, our souls just want to be home, but our homes aren't always where our heads rest.
So, in an era where big tech is all the rage, all I want is Big Love. Someone to love so fiercely and truly, that sometimes nothing and no one else even matters. Someone who makes forever seem a step closer when they're by my side. Someone who'd become my everyone.
But, it feels like we're running farther away from our destinies, lately more than ever. That, instead of finding our miserable, mythological twin-flame, we're losing our half of the soul too. A community immersed in shallow pursuits. A world that is increasingly becoming loveless. Ephemeral emotion replacing a lifetime of sentiment. That, my dear friend, is what breaks my heart. Every minute of every day."
A stunned silence enveloped them, the kind that shrouds an opera hall after the cadenza.
"Wow. I don't know what to say. But, I get the feeling you don't need me to say anything."
"And just like that, you knew exactly what to say."
Some time passed. A comfortable stillness had taken over. Now that she had verbalized some of her deepest fears, some that had been particularly keeping her awake, she felt at peace. Content, and at peace.
"How come you never asked about me? The typical questions, the swipe-right colloquy, as I like to call it. This feels like we jumped right into the third stanza of a sonnet."
"Because I already know you. Not your identity maybe, but you, Everything that you are. Everything that you were. Everything you wish to be. I never needed a name. Just a conversation."
"And the poetry continues."
"There was something I wanted to let you know though."
"By all means."
"A little less darkness, a little more sunlight. That's where the orchids thrive."
And just like that, Visitor #2300 gave her the gentle shake-by-the-shoulders she desperately needed. She had always been Universe Girl. Trusting the process, keeping her faith, believing in hope springing eternal. She couldn't remember when had she turned into Skeptictrix. It had been a tough couple of years. She had lost people; some, through death, others, by the sheer inability to pick up the phone. She had lost love. She spent eight hours a day feeling clueless. Perhaps, she hadn't been coping as well as she had imagined. She had built a watertight hiding place for herself, but life had oozed in from all sides nevertheless. She'd fought to hold on for years. Now, she fought to let go. And it reflected in the person she had become. A stranger that looked familiar, but would've terrified her a few years ago with their agonizing mistrust.
"I didn't realize how much I needed to hear that. Who are you? Where have you been? And why today?"
"And I'll tell you another thing. Go, and write. Describe that somebody you've been dreaming about. Write about the pink and purple skies. Complain about the unfairness of love. You go, and you write it all. Let it out, only then will you be able to let anything else in."
The ardent encouragement gave her heart. She was smiling to herself, thinking about how this midnight exchange would unfold next. Until, she wasn't. Stopping dead in her tracks, she remembered her draft from the morning. She hadn't published it yet. Reading the words right out of an article she hadn't shared with anybody, more so from somebody she was certain she had never spoken with before, a cold terror struck her. Praying that there was a cogent reason that could explain this oddity, she nervously typed.
"I'm sorry, what did you say? How could you, um, possibly know?"
She waited with bated breath. A minute passed. Then five. It felt like the night was circling back to where it started. She was gawking at the screen again, dumbfounded. And fearful. Exhausted and impatient, she tried again.
She stirred. Groggy and dazed, she sat up straight on her desk to relieve the tension in her aching back. Her clock showed three. Disoriented, she could not remember for the life of her how she fell asleep at the table. She looked around, hoping to spot something that would jolt her out of stupor. That's when her laptop caught her eye. The website still open, she realized that Visitor #2300 had long left the blog. The chat box lay untouched. The cursor blinked away, and the blank screen haunted her. The fog lifted, and she smiled. She opened a new draft, wrote a title and saved it. She'd write tomorrow.
She went to bed, thinking about her new piece, The Pink And Purple In My Head.