Thursday, April 02, 2009

Rachel story, part 1

Rachel Metz read through her article one last time, and hit the send button. She always agonized over her writing. She expected it to be thought-provoking and attention-grabbing, and so far the magazines had been pleased. She had been writing for the same two for a few years, and now she was trying to sell her poetry to a third.

It was a gray day, and cold, so unlike the milder California weather where she had recently lived. The little warehouse office was chilly, and she didn’t feel like hiking upstairs for the space heater. Now that the magazine article was written, she could waste a few minutes waiting to see if the telephone would ring. She was alone in the office today. The technicians would return late in the afternoon, to stack their completed service orders in her in-tray and go home. The paperwork would give Rachel work to do the following day. As it was, there wasn’t much else to do there but stay in touch with the magazines and keep writing. The owner of the little telecommunications company didn’t mind her doing her writing on the clock. It was what she loved and he just needed someone there to send invoices and pay bills and answer the telephone.

Rachel opened a web browser on the computer and went to her email inbox. It was mostly junk. There was a message from a clothing company telling her her order had been shipped, and one from the online singles community telling her they had found her some compatible matches. She doubted that. Their so-called compatible matches in the past had been less than desirable. She wondered if there could possibly be anyone in the world to match her.

It made her think of Sara Rose. Just the thought of her filled Rachel with longing and guilt. By all appearances, to her family and most of her friends, Rachel Metz was a young woman who wanted to find a husband and have children—a family. And in her heart, Rachel did want a family more than she wanted anything, or so she told herself. But there had been people like Sara Rose, whose presence made her hot and uncomfortable, who filled her with desire and restlessness, and made her doubt whether she would ever find a man who would make her feel that way. The last time they had talked, Sara had mentioned moving to New York City. It was why Rachel hadn’t thought of her much. But now she wondered if she was still in Sacramento. It was a fleeting thought that was growing more persistent by the minute.

She typed in the name of Sara’s father’s company in a search engine, and waited for the results. She had looked up this web site once before, after she had learned the name of the company, when she had first met Sara. She had needed to know the address in order to send her flowers...

She clicked the link and went to the web page, looking for any kind of contact information on the company’s employees, but there was nothing. At the bottom of the page, she saw an email address for the webmaster, and clicked the link. But what would she say? “Does Sara Rose still work there?” No, it needed to be more mysterious, more demanding, to deserve a reply.

Rachel had a couple of alternate email addresses, under aliases, that she used on occasion. Sometimes it was necessary to send email anonymously, like at the last company Christmas party, when the recipient of her gifts would have recognized her handwriting. She logged into Yahoo and typed in the last one she had used. But then she stopped.

Was “litlbluelf” a username that was going to impress someone beautiful and sophisticated like Sara Rose? Rachel frowned, her fingers hovering above the keyboard. No, she’d have to think of a new one; perhaps a famous writer… Emily Dickenson was too obvious. So was Virginia Woolf, though that may have been a closer match. But then she thought of a story, of a man obsessed with a woman of ill repute. It didn’t exactly mirror the situation, but she loved the story. She typed in Alexandre Dumas, and created the account. Then she composed the message. It didn’t have to be anything elaborate, just a sentence, something that would get her attention.

“To the beautiful Sara Rose,” she wrote in the subject line.

If you have any curious and ultimately insatiable desire for a pen pal, please write back...

a very ardent admirer

She wondered if it sounded like something a guy would write. She had never known a man as avid a writer as she was. How did they think? How did they woo a woman? If Dumas pursued women in real life the way he wrote about pursuing them, it would not be difficult for Rachel to mimic the behavior of his character Armand Duvall. It could be done. And how could Sara Rose resist it?

She scanned her message carefully, and hit the send button. Within a few minutes there was a reply in Monsieur Dumas’ new inbox. It was so soon that Rachel thought it might be an undeliverable message. She clicked the link to open it. It was from Sara Rose, at a Hotmail address.

who is this? also, please do not send messages intended for me to dra.


Rachel felt her stomach flip, and read the message again. It was hard to know if Sara was irritated or curious, but it clearly wasn’t friendly. It also revealed that Sara had not moved to New York City. Rachel quickly typed a reply.

Ah, sweet Sara... It was the only way I could find you... I'm sorry if it caused a problem. How are you today? I'm a wee bit bored, and I was thinking of you, and thought I'd try to find you. I'm insanely happy that you replied, even if you might be a bit suspicious. I can't tell you who I am. Do you mind? Will you still write if you don't know? I will be nice. I will be complimentary. I will be eloquent. I will be charming and engaging. But I cannot be revealing...

It was too much fun. Rachel was smiling when she hit send again. The chances were good that if she answered the first, she would answer the second. It would be thrilling to correspond with her, even if it was in secret. Maybe it was even more thrilling because it was secret. But would Sara become impatient with the secrecy and give up? Rachel was certain that she could keep her interested. She had thousands of readers all over the country, many of which had written to let her know how much they enjoyed her articles and stories. Rachel didn’t know Sara that well, but if she could entertain the masses, couldn’t she hook Sara Rose?

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