I crossed off another day on the calendar. Day four hundred and thirty two now was diagonally cut in two by the harsh, red mark of my pen. I don't even know why I bothered to keep track of the days anymore. I guess it was just another thing to do to keep myself occupied, although the result was hardly beneficial to my goals. Keeping track of the time my parents had been gone and the number of days that held my lonely existence was hardly the plan I had in mind. Still, I felt an odd urge to keep watch, to know that I was still attached to this earth somehow or else I might mistake that I was now dreaming, or dead as well. At very least my parents had made it until I was 22 yrs old and capable of taking care of myself. It made me happy, although somewhat bitterly, that it was the one, tiny piece of solace they could find at the time of their deaths. My memories began to trail down painful roads, and I immediately shut off all thought. No, I would not go there. Not again.
So, I now lived alone. Completely and utterly alone and deprived of any sort of company. After four hundred and thirty two days I should at least be used to it. However, each passing day gets harder and harder to bear. I chastised myself for being so melodramatic. This was the state of affairs and I might as well try even harder to get used to it. I suddenly found myself wishing that my parents had brought along some sort of pet or animal from our home world, but I was only five when we crashed on this planet and I doubt that such an animal would still be alive today. It seemed that only I had been cursed with the luck of continual existence.
It was a dreary day outside today so I decided to fire up the computer. Luckily the technology we brought with us was highly advanced at the time, so human technology had just now begun to catch up. Also luckily, we were able to use the same wireless connection that humans now used. Having the internet was a serious tool against solitary boredom. Due to my serious amount of free time, I now knew all about the tiny species that inhabited the world I now lived in. Most of that "research" wasn't completely purposeful, but also came from watching plenty of movies, reading blogs; basically immersing myself in the culture, you could say. They were basically identical to myself, mentally and physically. I couldn't really find any serious differences, besides the one obvious one. The fact that they were only about 3 inches tall in comparison made direct communication impossible. At least not without scaring the living daylights out of them and/or being hunted down for being a monster. I'm pretty sure that is what would happen. I have never been brave enough to test out the theory. One tiny human could do no harm, but I have seen enough about their culture to know that they have enough weaponry to do a little damage if they so pleased. That being said, I stayed well hidden. As far as I knew, I was the only "giant" in existence on this planet.
I had cultivated somewhat of an online "life", although I never spoke directly to anyone. I was always too fearful of attracting unwanted attention. Of course, I wasn't sure what a comment here or there would do exactly, but I was still apprehensive nonetheless.
Until I met Katie. Well, "met" is a strong word. I simply stumbled across her blog/photo account. Ugh, reading blogs, that makes me sound like such a nerd. However, if that was your only connection to humanity (not that I was necessarily human) it would be what you did too.
Back to Katie.
I was fascinated by her self portraits. That is pretty much how it started. I had been checking her account for months now, simply admiring each of her new and updated portraits. Not in a creepy way, mind you. The internet was flooded with garbage, people posting "bathroom mirror shot" images of themselves. Katie's was different. There was a depth in her eyes, a certain way she held her jaw in some sort of subconscious determination. It also help that her commentary on each photo was extremely entertaining. She said just enough that I knew she had an interesting viewpoint on life. Anyway, after months of stalking, I finally posted a comment. After much internal debate, I settled on, "Beautiful portraits. You seem like a unique, amazing girl." I held my breath and forced myself to hit the "enter" button.
I am so lame.
The months slowly passed. To my endless happiness and simultaneous uneasiness, Katie and I now messaged each other frequently. It started out small….a comment here or there. Now it had blossomed into ever growing emails. Conversing so extensively with her was against everything I should be doing. For close to two years I had kept to myself and the years before that I had only known my parents. I should keep it that way. It was safer for everyone involved.
On the other hand, communicating with her was the only thing I even looked forward to during each of my days. I was too far in to just quit and leave her alone. Rather, for me to leave myself back alone. She distracted me, even if only momentarily, from the depths of my pain and loneliness. I felt normal when we shared stories and jokes. Recently our conversations had gotten even more serious. Secrets were shared, more details of her daily life. I had to be careful when it came to these parts of conversations. There was little I could tell her about the circumstances of my living situation. Sometimes I would become so involved in conversation that some detail would nearly slip and I narrowly was able to catch myself. I didn't ever want to have to lie to her, but sometimes a little fabrication was necessary. It became easier to do so when I reminded myself that the truth would terrify her.
It was hard to think about that aspect of the situation. The digital communication had erased the source of my inability to meet with other people. Via the internet, I was a normal person. Repeatedly, I had to remind myself that if Katie ever actually saw me, her reaction would be horror. It would be a justified reaction, but it hurt nonetheless. Likewise, I had to remind myself that Katie was smaller than the length of my middle finger. An actual relationship with her wouldn't be possible on any level, other than the digital realm. This was a hard fact to swallow, especially since I had never actually seen any humans in real life. My parents had been extra vigilant with me during my younger years, fearing I'd stumble across some sort of civilization and regard it as a plaything. As I grew older I had come to understand the dangers of being found out.
I tried to picture Katie in my humble house, tucked deep in the woods. Naturally, although small to me, everything would be monstrously larger than her, including me. She wouldn't even reach the top of my shoe that was so causally lying by the front door. (The shoe had been my fathers, it was the only way I had any clothes). I shuddered, partially revolted at what I was. An overgrown monster.
I got up the next morning, as usual, and went through the motions that I completed daily. Happily, one of these was emailing Katie a quick hello. Without trying to, but also without holding back, our messaging had reached twice, sometimes three times a day. Her interest in me dumbfounded me, as I couldn't give her too many details about my actual life. One thing that I was always completely honest and open about was my personality, things I liked or disliked. I tried to be as open about my thoughts, as well, but some of those were rightfully shielded, for obvious reasons.
Not five minutes later another message appeared in my inbox.
I think it would be silly for us to keep emailing…..the message began. My heart sank to unfathomable depths……do you have skype? It would be much better to talk face to face. You know what I look like, it would be nice to see you too!
Once again, I was simultaneously thrilled and apprehensive. I wasn't worried about her seeing me through the internet. As far as I could arrogantly tell, I was attractive according to human standards. Although my hair was a bit shaggy (from crudely cutting it myself) it still had a nice bit of curl to it and was a pleasant shade of deep brown. My eyes were a pale blue and all my features were nicely proportioned. Upon comparing myself to human models of attractiveness in the past, I always found that I didn't lack looks. I had never put too much thought into it, except to think that they were possibly wasted on someone who would spend his whole life alone. Now, however, I was happy to have nothing to fear in skyping with Katie. Thankfully, she would not be able to determine my actual size, for everything around me was in proportion to myself. This probably wouldn't be good for my psychological state either, though, for Katie wouldn't appear to me as her real size either. The last thing I needed was to further envision her as someone that wasn't of minute proportions. My real fear in speaking to her, however, was that I would become even more attached to her. Even worse, that she would suggest meeting in person. Sadly, I would have to draw the line there. In person, she would definitely notice that something was a bit wrong with me.
Recklessly, I accepted her offer to talk face to face, or rather, monitor to monitor.
I took a seat as I waited for her image to appear on the screen, feeling more nervous than I had ever felt in my life. I never had actually spoken to someone other than my parents in my entire life. Much more, I would actually be speaking to a human!
Suddenly, her camera flipped on, and there she was in all of her soft, yet stunning beauty. Seriously, she was much to pretty to be talking to a random person on the internet. Weren't there guys that she went to college with that had attracted her attention? This fleeting thought made me jealous, but I also felt sorry for her bad luck in finding the only giant here on earth.
"Bryan! You never told me you were so cute!" I blushed deeply as her enchanting voice rang in my ears.
"You never asked." I mischeviously grinned. Really? We hadn't spoken for two seconds and I was already getting carried away.
"Well, I thought it would be rude to ask what you looked like. I didn't want to sound shallow. Besides, I would have liked you no matter what."
I definitely had made a mistake. She said she liked me. Of course, she could mean just as a friend, but her tone made it sound more than that. Great, as much as that statement made me endlessly happy, I also felt terrible for leading her on. Still….I couldn't help myself.
"No matter what?"
"Of course! I kept telling myself I was crazy for having feelings for someone I met online. You know what they say about that. For all I knew, you could have been a serial killer. But really, the more we spoke, the more I knew we had an actual connection. I have really been enjoying our talks."
I laughed internally. At least a serial killer would have been worse than what I actually was. At least I didn't have bad intentions….just extenuating circumstances. Katie also wasn't so na´ve to trust someone of that nature. I was better than that….right?
"I have really been enjoying our talks too. You have no idea."
"That is great, because I have a question for you….."
"Now that I have actually seen you, I think we should meet in person."
Of course she would ask that. It was only natural….the natural progression of a normal relationship. Too bad I wasn't normal.
"I…I don't know if I can do that Katie." I tried my best to control my facial expressions, but she had to have seen dismay written all over my face. She was going to take this the wrong way.
"But…why?" She asked, defensively.
"Because…..I don't think you would be comfortable….around me." I answered, hesitantly. I really was going to have to do better than this.
"What do you mean? You are crazy. I really want to see you Bryan! Unless you don't want to see me…."
"No! It isn't that at all!" I blurted. Maybe it would be best to let her think that. After all, I couldn't tell her the real explanation. I couldn't bring myself to hurt her though…..especially to tell such a gross lie as me not wanting to see her.
"Then why would I be uncomfortable around you?" Her beautiful green eyes sparkled against the backdrop of her dark hair. Hair that I wouldn't even be able to stroke without worrying that I would hurt her. This reality hadn't quite hit me yet. I wouldn't be able to hold her, not like a normal person. Every movement of mine would be extremely dangerous for her. This beautiful person would fit in the palm of my hand, completely dwarfed. Why was I such a freak?
"I'm…..really tall." I answered, lamely. I had been so tempted to tell her the ridiculous truth, and that was the truth…sort of. Katie giggled at my response.
"You think that is a reason I wouldn't want to see you? Quit being so weird Bryan. What is really wrong? Besides, I like tall guys."
Wasn't that the joke of the century. No matter how much she liked tall guys, I'm pretty sure I would be more than she bargained for. Then an excuse finally occurred to me.
"Well, I'm embarrassed to say it, but I'm sick. I don't like people seeing me like this."
"Sick? But you look fine! What is wrong?"
This whole damn conversation had been such a bad idea. It was easier to reason things away in an email, where I didn't have to worry about her seeing my facial expression and coming up with answers on the spot. What the hell disease did I have?
"The doctors don't know yet. I'm still waiting to find out. I wouldn't want you to catch anything…."
I could see it in her eyes. She didn't believe me at all, but fortunately, she played along.
"Alright, well maybe later, when you get better."
"Yes, we will see." I felt bad saying those words. I just wanted her to stay my friend. I needed somebody in my life. Wasn't I allowed to have even that?
"At least tell me where you live…"
I told her. I didn't even have to lie about it. She would never find it anyway and I imagined it was quite a hike for humans. Her eyebrow raised a bit at my noticeable seclusion from humanity, but she let that go too. To my relief, we fell into comfortable conversation.