Remapped

Remap

“Let me call you Daddy,” I said.

There was nothing but hiss of a bad digital connection. The screen’s cold glow cast harsh shadows across the rumpled landscape of my bedclothes. I was glad, now, that Blue* had refused to use the camera on Skype. Glad he couldn’t see me because, as the hiss stretched on, I began to cry. Out of shame, maybe. Out of fear that I’d disgusted him.

* * *

SLIP32: Don’t you ever get tired of typing?

BLUE*: Sometimes. You?

SLIP32: Wanna Skype?

BLUE*: Cam, you mean?

SLIP32: Yes.

BLUE*: I want to hear your voice. But no video.

SLIP32: All or nothing.

BLUE*: Just text then.

What if I didn’t like his voice? What if it was squeaky or nasal and a complete turn off? What if he didn’t like my voice?

All or nothing, I’d insisted, for a while. I was mindful of how annoying a voice could be. Sometimes I felt like I spent my life being passed around from one phone voice to another – the bank, the school, the mobile company. The minute there was a problem and I had to talk to someone directly, it was like a voyage into the underworld.

“You’ve reached the offices of…”

“Just hold while I redirect your call.”

“I’m afraid I don’t have access to that information, let me pass you on to our service department.”

“Would you like that in blue or green?”

“Your transaction has been denied due to insufficient funds.”

“I’m sorry, there’s an error in our records.”

“Could you spell your surname again?”

I could develop a fast hate-on for the person at the other end of the line if I didn’t like their voice.ย  More frightening still, I could almost fall in love with someone if they had the right voice. I had long suspected that the Apple Helpdesk hired their staff based on the sexiness of their voice. I once developed a terrible crush on a tech who had stepped me through the process of debugging a hardware problem. It had taken almost four hours. All the way through the steps, he stayed on the line with me. Finally I asked him if he was single. He said he wasn’t.

So, for a long time, Blue* and I stuck to text. For a while it didn’t matter. It wasn’t just his vocabulary or the fact that he didn’t indulge in passion-killing abbreviations. He was a good at it. A teller of hot stories. Enough detail in the right places. And he’d pace his responses just right, as if he could tell exactly how horny he’d made me. At first his posts where slow and long, full of lush descriptions. I’d do my best to match him. As the stories went on, we’d get more explicit, and the lines would get shorter, harsher, raunchier. As if the words themselves were pressing, pushing, demanding, stroking, penetrating. He knew. I knew he knew. He knew I knew he knew. I’d never met anyone who could textfuck the way Blue* could.

BLUE*: Tired of typing yet?

SLIP32: I am. But it’s okay.

BLUE*: Don’t you want to hear my voice?

SLIP32: Yeah, but I want to see you too. Don’t you want to see me?

BLUE*: No. Not really. I like it this way. No visuals.

SLIP32: Scared I’m going to be disappointing to look at?

BLUE*: I’m sure you’re not. But maybe I am.

SLIP32: I don’t care. Anyway, I thought men were supposed to be visual?

BLUE*: How do you know I’m a man? <Arches eyebrow>

SLIP32: Syntax. <Smirk>

BLUE*: Busted.

In the end I gave in. Mostly because the allure of a two-handed wank was tempting. I’ll admit I was scared, though. We’d been texting for more than a year. I’d grown very fond of Blue*. He wasn’t the only person I was netfucking, but he was my favourite by far. Sometimes I thought I played with other people to keep my feelings for him in perspective.

The first time I heard that creepy ring on Skype – the alert sounds like a submarine in distress – my adrenal glands went into overdrive. There he was. Blue* calling.

“Hi.”

“Hello there,” he drawled.

“You’re… You’ve got an accent!”

“Most people do.”

“Scottish? Jesus, you’re Scottish.”

“I am indeed. And you’re American.”

“Canadian.”

“My apologies.”

“Don’t. I’m not one of those Canadians.”

“Those Canadians?”

“The kind that get offended when people think they’re American.”

“Excellent. So…”

“So?” I was a little disconcerted. The transition from text to anything else was always awkward.

“Are you put off by the voice?”

I smiled. “No, not at all. You’ve got a very sexy voice.”

“So do you. What should I call you?”

“I’m not sure. What should I call you?”

“Blue.”

I laughed. I heard him breathe. “Okay, Blue. Be that way. I’m Slip.”

“Oh, you’re going numberless.”

“And you’ve dropped your asterisk.”

“True enough.”

“Hey, Blue?”

“Yes?”

“How do we start this?”

He hummed. It was a lovely, rumbling cogitation of a hum. “Close your eyes. Put your hands between your legs. I’m going to tell you a story.”

Sometimes Blue would start the story, sometimes I would. We’d always set it somewhere strange: in a deserted laboratory in Antarctica, in the bombed out ruins of Berlin, in the middle of a coup somewhere in South America, or a tea plantation in Assam. We’d always be somewhere other than where we were. Always other people. For a while, we played in the past, like we used to when we texted, but we started running out of historical events.

“New game,” he said, one day. “Are you up for it?”

“Of course.”

“Open up Google Maps,”

“Okay. Done.”

Coordinates popped up in the message pane. He took me to Japan and he went down on me right outside the Yasukuni Shrine, in the dark, with my hand clamped over my mouth so I didn’t make a noise while I came.

We worked through a list of natural disasters, great battles, and famous palaces. For a while, we did a global tour of graveyards and were ghosts, vampires, the undead, lovers in mourning. Then we downloaded usermaps and went to places where UFOs had been sighted. Sometimes I’d be the alien. Sometimes it would be him. Sometimes it would be fast and rough, sometimes it would be ridiculously romantic.

“Tonight, I want you to come to me in my sleep,” I said.

“Am I a rapacious alien, hell bent on impregnating a human?”

“Mmmm.”

“Do I bend over you while your dreaming, and rest my long, grey fingers on either side of your temples and push lewd images into your brain to make you wet?”

“You do.”

“Good.”

Blue wasn’t a prude; he had a boundless imagination and would take it almost anywhere.

“I’m a dragon,” he whispered, one night. “With a long, forked tongue. And I’m going to trail it up the smooth, pearlescent scales of your belly until your dragon cunt weeps bioluminescence. Then…”

“Then what?”

“I’m going to devour you, head first.”

“Will it hurt?”

“Maybe a little.”

“Maybe a lot!”

“Not once I’ve swallowed your brain. After that, it’s all mindless ecstasy.”

And it was.

Slowly it got more personal. I showed him on Google Earth where I almost drowned off the coast of Cancun, in Mexico, and he swam out and saved me, and then fucked me slowly on the beach in the wet sand until all the fear was gone.

We got lost. Lost somehow in the maps, and in the pictures of the streets, and the stories. I really think we did. Because after he saved me from drowning, I felt safer. I went swimming few days later, and that old, panicked feeling like I was floating into an abyss was gone. It was as if he’d wormed his way into my memory of that event and fixed it. Made it turn out right.

I didn’t tell him. I didn’t want him to think I was crazy.

He took me to the town where he’d grown up and fucked me from behind against the brick wall of his primary school until my cheek was marked from roughness of the brick and the soot came off on my hands.ย  We went there a few times. I think, maybe, fucking there did something for him, too, because he was quiet afterwards. We lay there, listening to each other breathe. I thought I heard him trying to hide the fact that he was crying.

“Blue?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you okay?”

“I am. Thank you, love.”

“For what?”

“Just… thank you.”

Over that year, we took each other to every place we’d been wounded, or rejected, or humiliated somehow, and wrote new memories on top of the old ones. Fucked with the timeline. Fucked with our own heads. We never talked about what we were doing; I never told him exactly what the old memory was, and he never told me. It was the sort of magic that only worked in silence. Had I told him the memory – had I put it into words – it would have given the thing too much power, been too strong, too solid to change. In the quiet of knowing, not speaking, the wounds were vulnerable to the forces exerted by our pleasure. They’d re-knit in a different, softer pattern.

* * *

“Are you there?” I asked, after more than a minute of empty hiss.

“I’m still here, Slip.”

“Can I call you Daddy?”

“No.”

The pop-up message informed me that he’d ended the connection. I tried to reconnect but he didn’t answer. An hour later, Blue’s account disappeared.

  32 comments for “Remapped

  1. November 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    this story has just everything i love in it…

  2. November 6, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Ohh the voices. That hesitation when the written words on the screen escalate to the world of hearing. You nailed the ways of my aural self. I’ve fallen in lust with stranger’s voices in public, closing my eyes so they could roll to the sounds that go straight between my legs. Interesting story.

  3. November 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    What a wonderful story.

    Mick

  4. November 7, 2014 at 12:18 am

    This story has so many layers for me. I realised that I was holding my breath as I read it. It engendered real emotional responses in me. Thank you.

  5. littlemonkey
    November 7, 2014 at 2:34 am

    Heartbreaking and beautiful. It made me weep.

  6. DrS
    November 7, 2014 at 6:00 am

    I loved it. It reminds me of the excitement of anonymous conversations on AOL in days past.

  7. TFP
    November 7, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Tragic truth…

  8. claire
    November 8, 2014 at 4:41 am

    Oh my yes. This is my life now. May it never end.

  9. Mandy
    November 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    That was beautiful. Really resonated with me on a personal level. Love your work so much.

  10. Six
    November 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Do net romances ever have happy endings? And I mean happy in the traditional sense.

    • November 10, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      A better question might be… do my stories ever have happy endings in the traditional sense?

      Because apparently – this is just anecdotal – sometimes they do. I’ve heard of several that ended in marriage.

      • entheos
        November 10, 2014 at 9:22 pm

        Ooh but happy endings are not the only good endings.

      • Six
        November 11, 2014 at 5:24 pm

        in the world of fiction, anything is possible. Especially with such a talented writer as you. In the online world though, too often, we confuse romance with rubbing. That’s what I loved about this story. The sound of the symbolic balloon popping at the end of this story really nailed the tenuous fragility of relationships based on masturbatory fantasies.

    • Claire
      November 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Yes. Yes, they do.

  11. bookish
    November 15, 2014 at 7:35 am

    You completely capture the transience and pain of online relationships. Warm, intimate and so fragile. Gone in a heartbeat with no explanation.This made me cry.

  12. Davy
    November 22, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    I wondered twice: Why daddy and why disconnect?

    • November 22, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      This is where I expect my readers to be writers: I’m leaving that up to your imagination. Could be all sorts of reasons. Could be coincidence. What do you think?

      • December 22, 2014 at 5:19 pm

        I do at times enjoy having bits and pieces of a story being left to the reader’s imagination, as it is called for in some circumstances, but I do think that we read writing with the promise of being told a story. When I read this story, I know that I could think up an infinite number of possibilities as to what went wrong, as I’m sure the character in the story did! And, I appreciate that we never find out because she doesn’t either, and that makes her so much more relatable to us, but I just wished you had addressed that part of the story just a little bit more! Maybe her afterthoughts, possibly, or her confusion? I felt like I went through the emotions after learning that he deleted his account alone, without the narrator and I felt like i needed her there with me for a bit longer :p
        That being said though, I reeeaaally liked the story and its relativity to life ๐Ÿ™‚

        • December 25, 2014 at 10:52 am

          Lauren, you make a valid point about feeling abandoned by the narrator. It was indeed my intention to do that because I think there is a certain level of despair leaves us wordless, mute. And although it occurs occasionally in real life, it is more specifically a symptom of the bonds we form online. This is quite a new phenomenon.

          I wanted to reflect exactly how deep, how mentally intimate online relationships are, but also how incredibly precarious they are, also. How, suddenly, all the emotion you invested in a person can end up dropping into a black hole.

          It would have been easy to tie up the narrative in some neat way, to give the reader resolution, but I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to produce some semblance of the effect that this closing off of communications has in a real experience, with the reader.

          There are thousands and thousands of erotica authors out there who will offer you the kind of emotional resolution you are after. The market is awash in them. And I understand that this acclimatizes readers to expect that kind of resolution. As a writer, I try very hard to offer a different experience – a different and, in my personal opinion, a more ethical relationship between writer and reader. This is a terrible thing we do to each other – this total cutting off of communication. There is something mentally barbarous about it. We are left bereft and without closure. I did not want to betray the real pain of this experience by coating it with anything or giving it an emotionally satisfying ending. It would mean we would not be having this discussion now about just how brutal that cutting off can be. And that was my goal.

          • Lauren
            January 6, 2015 at 4:14 pm

            No, you’re right, the story becomes much more…relatable? understandable? i don’t know what word i’m looking for here, but the end allows me to relate to her and also to my own experiences…

            it left me needing more, an end, anything; and that too is what i’m sure the narrator felt… so yes, the abrupt ending is appropriate in the translation of story to experience

            • January 6, 2015 at 7:53 pm

              And you know, you are always welcome to write another ending ๐Ÿ˜›

              • February 15, 2015 at 3:06 am

                I think you got the ending you needed, especially as your intent was to set up the pull-the-plug kind of finality possible only in anonymous online hookups. It doesn’t matter how well you know the personโ€”a blink of the mains and they’re gone, perhaps forever. Identity is fleeting.

                Of course I still want to know the story behind “Daddy,” but it’s possible not even you “know.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ The obvious explanation, that it turned him off, seems off considering the range of sexuality they otherwise experimented with liberally. Something about being Scottish?

                (BTW, from experience I was very amused by: “the allure of a two-handed wank”)

      • May 22, 2015 at 12:01 am

        Just like Hemingway’s shortest short story. “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”

      • Jane Ann
        September 6, 2015 at 7:44 pm

        The “daddy” and “disconnect”‘were consummately artful because there is an ending to artifice. Blue had explored Slip’s range. The trip met a wall perhaps and found it wanting. There is something of the Blue as searcher in The Waiting Room. Waiting for the echo of recognition? Waiting for the true voice? Missing perhaps the scent? The interview had run its course.

  13. Redlilith
    March 25, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Oh this is so familiar, at so many levels…years of long distance relationships taught me a lot, about patience, nurturing love hope and pain all at the same time; my first descend into power mindgames and a short period with a across-the-ocean Dom taught me about connection and seduction and the right timing for the right words….I love words, I always left it at words, even sharing pictures or videos, I keept it at words, no voice, no camming. As a teen-ager dozens of paper letters, years later emails, chatting, sms…there’s nothing more powerful than the seduction of the mind, the penetration and sharing of fantasies…and yes, the brutal end came as well, several times. With the explosion of social platforms, you can’t just simply try to forget someone, no, there’s banning and blocking from FB, Twitter, Tumblr, any chatting program you were using, account deletion…you will be forgotten, sometimes it’s what you hope for, sometimes it hurts knowing nobody will chase you when reaching for you would be still so easy. I always want to know what happens later, I always long for the ‘more’, but this ending is just, well, too real to need any change…

  14. CounselorGirl
    March 31, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I think you got it exactly right, RG. The cutting off can come suddenly and without explanation, and it can be so surprisingly painful, even if it’s someone you’ve never met. And you are left wondering what you did to make him or her go away. It’s very cruel indeed! Also, like you said, it’s an unprecedented experience in human relationships. I can’t imagine that anything good can come out of this ability to inflict pain on someone else so easily and with so few repercussions.

  15. Clover
    April 9, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Oh, how sad. I felt in love with him, as her… And then… To lose all I thought she would have… Heartbreaking. And yet she will always still have what they had. What a gulf of loss it will leave, though. Amazing the many ways humans can fall in love, and how often it is as much with who we hope the person is as it is with who they really are. And then the more we love them/who we want them to be, often the more we trust. And the more we trust, often the more we open up… Only to reveal something about ourselves that the other may or may not be able to stand. And sometimes it turns out the trust we thought was strong was built on shifting sand.

  16. Barrels
    August 26, 2015 at 4:40 am

    This captures the emotion of an anonymous online relationship perfectly. Sitting here lost in the memories and sadness. What did I do to break the spell? These connections happen so rarely, they can’t be faked and recreated.

  17. bill
    September 28, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Awww…… so sad, that ending. But the imagery is magnificient.

    • September 29, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Thank you. Heheh. I don’t do happy endings unless they feel real to me.

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