I had been friends on Facebook with a girl for many years. We hardly talked but it was always fun to see her content. Her posts would center around her trips to the beach, which was a weekend ritual. I won’t lie, she was pretty—no, wait, beautiful. Okay, I was really in love with her.
She never seemed to have a boyfriend, it was always just pictures of her at the beach with no one else. There would be others in the background but just the typical beach crowd. I thought she was an amazing person, quite enigmatic above all.
We shared some common interests and over time, they would be more in sync. She lived in a small town in the boondocks of the east coast, a true country girl who had that vibe about her I found really alluring.
I was shy and never socially confident in any situation, even when there were only two other people in the room. I thought I would never have the courage to speak to her through messenger and totally was against the idea of ever meeting her in person.
I live alone in a studio apartment and have lived here for about the last 5 years. It’s a larger city than what anyone would like to live in honestly and I hear a lot of shootings on a nightly basis around the neighboring blocks. Sirens are the night time symphony that often lulls me to sleep, becoming the norm in the eastern part of the city. I used to be afraid of this side but in reality, rent is cheaper for a reason.
One day, I logged on as usual and found I was in a group chat. I hated those and was about to leave when I realized she was a member of the group. I won’t lie, I was shaking. What did I say? What could I talk about that she would find interesting enough to talk to me? I wanted to carry the conversation in private with her but I had learned from my brother that if you were too bold too quickly, you would fail miserably. He was always the master of screwing up a good thing when it came.
I noticed there was an ongoing video chat that started months prior, I would say in February. It was May and I was puzzled. Who starts a video chat and continues it for months? I was too nervous to join the chat on video. I wondered honestly how the YouTube entertainers did it. You had to have some confidence in yourself to record yourself for the entire internet to take in. I was too nervous and hoped I could join one day when I had a little more courage. Tonight, though, I would think of my approach and hopefully break the ice with my dream girl. She was honestly more of an obsession of mine but not in a dangerous way. I would think of her constantly.
“You should try at least.” My brother had said one day when we sat around the table and drank a few beers on a typical Saturday night. He was a perfect example of overzealous confidence and set his sights too high. He wanted to date the head cheerleader in High School, ignoring her extremely large quarterback boyfriend that managed to decorate his visage with a black eye. He thought if he could prove to his girlfriend he was violent off the field, she would leave him. It didn’t work since she hated him already.
However, he was my brother and I loved him in spite of his shortcomings. I would often sit and listen to his life advice.
“I don’t know, she’s too much of a goddess.” I didn’t know what else to call her. He would often tease me about things so I still had to choose my words cautiously.
“Goddesses have their Kryptonite, we both know that. You simply have to make your move. Grow a set, jump in the water head first. The time has passed to get your feet wet. I would definitely suggest you grow a beard too, they like that rugged lumberjack look.” He snatched my phone without warning and went straight to my Facebook account. I objected but he was already fixated on my profile picture. This was just what I didn’t want.
“Come on, give it back–”
“You have to change your profile picture, dude. This isn’t what you want to show people, trust me. I don’t know what else to tell you but if you want to nab the goddess, you have to be fit for a goddess.” He opened my messenger and looked for the group chat. When he found it he laid the phone on the table between us and clicked the box that you tap to send text to a chat. “Message the group.”
I was reluctant but he was convincing. I typed a simple, yet weak greeting of “hello.” My brother was shaking his head. I didn’t know what to say or do and was already starting to get cold feet. Before I could exit, she replied.
“Hello Daniel. How are you?”
I froze. I didn’t know what to think or do. She actually messaged me back! I stifled my joy but managed to crack a smile. My brother noticed and patted me on the back.
“Go get your goddess.” He rose to get another beer and someone was typing. Who it was, I had no idea.
“Who’s the new guy?” Someone had asked. I didn’t know if it was a jealous boyfriend or if it was someone who was genuinely curious.
“That’s Daniel.” She replied. “He’s the strong, silent type.”
There was silence for a moment. Was I supposed to type something in return?
“Join the video call.”
The invitation was rather warm and I didn’t know what to think.
“Don’t pressure the boy, he’s shy.” She replied with a wink. “He does need to join though.”
I didn’t know what to think at this moment and my brother nearly scared 10 years from my life expectancy when he sat another bottle of beer at my place at the table.
“How’s the chat going, champ?”
My brother was the king of bad timing and this was no exception to any other occasion. I didn’t know what to say.
“Fine, I guess…I mean…I’m not sure.”
“Promise me you’ll join the video chat so I can sleep easier. Rachel kicked me out again so I’m crashing here.” He laid on the couch and sprawled out. “Hit the light on your way out and be social on social media.”
With my brother out of commission for the night, I now had no choice. I had already broken the ice and decided that I would retire to the bedroom. Maybe it was the first step to happiness, who knew?
As I closed the door, I was shaking. I felt kind of silly being scared of a girl but thought what the heck and joined the video call after sitting down at the desk in my small bedroom that was merely separated by a thin door that never closed all the way. I could hear my brother snoring on the couch already and shrugged.
As the screen came up, I saw her as well as another guy. She was in a dark bedroom with only the faint light of a small lamp illuminating her beauty. The other was a man that was clearly not American. I think he was from Scotland or somewhere like that. He looked like the typical Scottish man, the kind you see in stereotypical depictions. His red hair and ridiculously full beard was something to behold that my brother would have been jealous of for sure. He had grown a beard for years but it was never as full as the Scottish man.
As I looked at her, I was amazed by her green eyes and black t-shirt that bore the logo of one of the local homegrown metal bands that she was a huge supporter of and had been since they started. She was relaxed and sipped a glass of wine.
“Hello, Daniel.” She had a mischievous smile as she spoke, almost like she wanted me. I didn’t know what else to say.
“Hi, Chelsea.” I weakly replied and she cleared her throat and lit a cigarette. She seemed to see through me at some point and that was scary to me.
“It’s nice to finally see you. As I recall, you are one of those shy people that thought about liking my pics or posts but never did. Am I right?”
I swallowed a lump in my throat. The Scottish man laughed.
“He’s clearly taken by you!”
“Oh, believe me, I’ve always known. I could feel it from the second he requested me.”
I was nervous but figured it was time to jump in head first to the pool.
“Is that true, Daniel?” The Scottish man swatted away a fly. “Are you in love with Chelsea?” He chuckled heartily and I was embarrassed.
“You’re embarrassing the poor boy, Angus. Let him confess.”
She had a tone of mischief in her voice which was mixed with a certain naughty quality that drove me crazy. I felt my anxiety rise but maintained my composure. I was going to get the goddess and knew that I had to act now.
“Um, well…” I bombed on my first impression and felt like an idiot. “I guess I kind of like her—I mean, well, more than kind of…”
“He loves you, Chelsea!” The Scottish man chuckled heartily when he spoke his heckling dialogue. I felt an anger rise in myself that I had never felt.
“Just die already.” I breathed under my breath. I wasn’t heard but I was shocked at this. Why would I wish death on a total stranger?
After a few moments, I exited the chat and turned my phone to silent. I didn’t want to face anyone for a while. I went to bed and thought I would try again later, maybe never. I didn’t know what to do so I slept on it. Remarkably I slept like a baby.
There had been fire with the words I had spoken and the next day I thought about the night before. It was 2 PM on a Sunday when I woke, a slight hangover accompanying my morning. My brother had been awake a while and cooked breakfast. He left a note saying that he had gone back to reconcile with Rachel and would see me later. He also added he had left me some sausage and eggs, my favorite breakfast food since I was a kid.
I took my phone off silent and opened Facebook. I had a message and opened messenger. It was from Chelsea. My color must have left my face for a moment and I clicked on it, unsure what I would see.
What I saw, I didn’t expect.
“How are you?”
It was funny how 3 little words could cripple me for a moment. I saw that it was a one on one chat and felt even more nervous.
“I’m okay, how are you?” I was surprisingly confident, it was shocking, honestly.
“I’m okay too. I was wondering if you wanted to come into the group chat.”
I couldn’t believe she was actually asking after last night. I figured I had scared her away. That Scottish guy—Angus, was it? He got on my last nerve. I would have given anything for it to be just me and her. Scotland had plenty of opportunities to die in freak accidents, I’m sure. I couldn’t shake the disdain I had for him.
I immediately joined the video chat and it was just the two of them. He was very much awake and having a snack. He seemed to like me but I didn’t feel the same toward him. After all, he had hit below the belt and I didn’t appreciate it.
“Well, look who it is! Lover boy!” He chuckled heartily and cracked an almond, popping the nut in his mouth.
Chelsea had such a sweet tone in her voice that was sure to provide fantasies for quite a while. She was wearing black, as usual. I had slipped on a shirt that smelled decent and looked okay. There were no stains and I would refuse to wear it whether she saw me or not. I wasn’t a slob and never had been. I was obsessively clean and if even one thing was out of place, I would panic.
“Hi, Chelsea.” I managed an actual pattern of speech and didn’t want to run away this time. Maybe I did have courage after all. I was grateful for all the pep talks my brother had given me at that moment, God bless the man.
“You look rested.” She smiled and sipped her wine from her usual goblet. There was a lipstick stain on the rim of the glass that appeared new, meaning that she was also clean. I liked what I saw more and more.
“I am.” I sighed and brushed my hair from my face.
“It’s great to see–” She froze and I heard coughing from Angus. He was turning red and rose from his chair, falling to the floor, the camera falling beside him as they captured his next moments. Chelsea was panicked and I didn’t make the connection at the time but later I would.
He reached for his phone and dialed emergency services but didn’t tell them anything due to his lack of ability to speak. I heard Chelsea scream as he was captured with his eyes open in a blank gaze, his countenance blue. Soon, medics rushed in and all we could do was watch as they worked tirelessly to save him. They were unaware that he was on a video call and after they said he expired, they wheeled him out, a sheet covering him. We saw the lights go dark and we didn’t know what to say or do. Angus had died and we had witnessed his final moments.
Some time passed and I became more involved on Facebook in comment threads on the latest news articles. There were heated opinions that flew like fiery arrows at enemy armies and I would often saw an unkind comment, the anger within me rising more and more. I would often think to myself that I would love nothing more than to see something happen to them that was traumatic and that they should die. As my comments became less tamed, I would hold nothing back. I don’t know what had gotten into me.
The next week, I would see how someone had died in a road rage incident and recognize the name as the person I wished would die or suffer some really bad fortune. I would check the profiles and see condolences to the family and after a few of these, I began to back away from Facebook for a while. Chelsea was not as present either, probably still mourning the death of her friend. In fact, I didn’t see her for a few months and the video chat had ended so I would have to call her if I wished to talk to her.
After contemplating for a while, I was unsure of what exactly was happening, whether imagined or real, I was actually wishing ill on people and they would meet a fate I never thought would be connected to me.
The day I discovered exactly what the connection was, I didn’t expect it to come as it did. My brother’s girlfriend had cheated on him and I was out for a drive when I saw it. I didn’t know what I would see or what I would even say. It was, however, the awakening to an ability I hadn’t thought to possess.
She was with another man at this restaurant we had in a small town to the west of the city. It was a place that was sparsely populated with customers and when I saw her kiss this other man, I was in the parking lot. I had decided to stop here to gather my thoughts and figure out exactly how well I knew myself. She had never really met me so she didn’t know who I was and surely didn’t know I was her boyfriend’s brother.
I took the table next to theirs and saw the two becoming close and when they kissed I approached them. It was risky but I was bold. They looked at me with a blank stare.
“Rachel Mullins?” My greeting was direct and she looked slightly pale.
“Who are you?!” The superfluous boyfriend was angry that I was intruding, it was painfully obvious.
“I’m Daniel Edmonds.” The name obviously struck a familiar chord with her but she maintained her composure, clearly disturbed by the fact she had been caught. “You have some explaining to do.”
“The only explaining she’ll be doing is definitely not to you!” The superfluous boyfriend was clearly angry.
“Mark, please, don’t–” She knew the jig was up and was caught. She knew she lost both guys and her countenance had dropped that that of melancholy proportions.
“Do you know this guy?!” Mark was agitated and she tried to tame him for a moment and then dropped her hand she had placed on his arm to try to calm him. “Are you seriously cheating on me with–”
“Not with him!” She replied in such a loud tone that the restaurant fell silent. Mark looked at her and then at me. With no further words, he left quickly, the door almost breaking as it struggled to shut with the insane force Mark had applied upon leaving.
“Well, looks like you’ve lost 2 guys, huh?” I fished my mind for the next phrase, then it came, unabated. “I hope you suffer for what you have done. I hope that you suffer for the misery you inflicted on my brother and that you are cold and dead before sunrise!”
At this moment, the entire restaurant was staring and I left, not knowing what else to do. I jumped in my 1998 Ford Taurus and sped away, not looking back. I called my brother and broke the news to him. He wasn’t happy.
The next day, I had a phone call from my brother who told me that his cheating ex had died from slitting her wrists in the bathtub as she listened to the local classical station.
I have to honestly say that, to this day, I have never found comfort knowing I am a close agent of the Angel of Death. I try not to speak these days, I have since stayed away from social media and am a recluse, refusing to see or speak to anyone.
All I know is that those deaths on Facebook and the death of my brother’s ex are all due to me. It’s a reality I doubt I’ll ever come to terms with.
Credit: Clint Lutteringer
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