It wasn’t long into their relationship that her “I” key stopped working. She started typing things like: “want to have sex” and “like beer & cheese.” He took from these what he could and thought how lucky am I? I found someone who gives and gives and gives. Selfishness is not a trait he likes.
They wrote about their frustrations with jobs, friends, parents. He asked about her hair. Had she ever cut it? She asked about his roommate. Favorite meals. Her: takeout Thai. Him: homemade gnocchi. It’s so easy, anyone can do it. She mentioned she had a window herb garden but didn’t like to cook. He scoffed, but he didn’t tell her he thought this was ridiculous. He talked about his recent case; he was an attorney. He began to type “tho” instead of “though” and “U” instead of “you,” as if the effort for him to acknowledge who he was addressing was too much.
Like a piano with dead keys, it was beautiful until it wasn’t. She saw the problem, of course, acknowledged it within herself, but didn’t want to say anything. She couldn’t afford a new computer and didn’t see how she could replace the keyboard alone. All her letters, her words, slowly lost their meaning. M and E were the next to go. And soon he read her missives as that of a passive woman. In theory he didn’t like this, but in reality, as he stared into his screen, his own face vaguely reflected back at him, he thought that this was, in fact, the way it should be.
She typed and typed, late at night, at work, on the train to and from, and she wasn’t being any more understood no matter how much effort she put into explanations. Her friends said ditch him and swipe left babe, though that wasn’t the kind of app she’d found him on. He responded between the hours of nine and eleven at night.
Eventually he wrote “we are going to meet IRL.”
She typed, ok! Deleted it.
He saw three bubbles.
She typed “what do you want to do?” Delete.
The bubbles disappeared.
She listened to the hissing of the heater in her little apartment, something she associated both with warmth and danger. She had learned how to avoid the radiator during the winter, one burn too many had left a scar on her forearm that still throbbed.
He typed: “Girl please.”
Girl?, she thought.
“What was all this for then?,”
She typed an angry mash of letters. “Tnwfuwifnwijjufhrvrf.” Delete.
The bubbles reappeared. Disappeared again.
He typed did I do something to offend you? and don’t say you’re that kind of woman.
That knd? She cursed her lack of an “I.” She dragged her cursor to the Log Out icon. Hovered there. Clicked My Account instead, clicked and clicked and clicked until she finally found, hidden amidst a throng of text, Cancel My Account.
A pop-up box: Are you sure?