Imagined

by Jinryu

He cupped his hand to his ear to hear above the ambient noise of the coffee shop.


YO I’M A BLONDE MOTHERFUCKER AND I WORSHIP THOR

I’M GUNNA USE MY AXE BUST DOWN YOUR DOOR
SCREAMING VALHALLA AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS
I GOT PHAT RHYMES AND I SPEAK IN TONGUES
RAGNAROK THE PARTY LIKE A VALHALLA PARTY
RAGNAROK THE PARTY LIKE A VALHALLA PARTY
NORSE. (crazy motherfucker with a longship baby)
NORSE (gunna kick your ass and I don’t mean maybe)
NORSE. (crazy motherfucker with a longship baby)
NORSE (LONG BLONDE HAIR THAT IS SOFT AND WAVY)

“I can’t believe that those lyrics actually made it onto the radio,” he muttered.

“It’s the gift,” she said, raising an eyebrow.

“I still can’t believe it,” his voice was hoarse, from the sweetness of the cake, but he didn’t notice.  He just strained to make out the lyrics over the noise of the blender, and to the letter, they were the same.  “I mean… I guess.  From Bash to radio? Come on!  I mean, I’ve heard of like, nerd rock and all that, but really…”

She interrupted him.  “Did you ever hear about the curious case of Heather Bellingham?”

He listened for a few more seconds before responding: “Should I?”

“Well, no, I guess not.  I haven’t told you about her yet.  She fell in love with a boy at the age of sweet sixteen.  He worked at a videostore, he was two years older than her, and studied film. She thought he was cultured.”

“And?”

“Well, they did everything together and all that.  You know how it is with a first love, right?”

He hated questions like that, so he just smirked,”I guess.”

“She was totally certain that he was the one . He was perfect in every way for her.  When he got her a promise ring, it might as well have been an engagement proposal.  She was ready to drop everything for him, y’know.  Quit school.  Get married and have 2.5 kids.  White picket fences: the whole kit. At 16, she knew it all.”

“How romantic!” he sneered.

“It ended in tragedy though.”

“What, did she die in a car accident or something?”

“No, he did.”

He paused, studying her  expression to see if she was joking.  “Shiz.  I was just kidding.  That is kinda tragic.”

“Ah, but you see,” Kate took a sip of her drink, “that’s not the tragedy.”

“There’s more?”

“It was all fiction.  That was the tragedy.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, she made it up.  There never was any boy.  There never was any love in her life.  She was a bookworm who read too much.  A surfer only in cybersapce.  In meatspace, she’s quite hard to get along with I guess.  She made him up– used to tell all her friends about ‘him’ all the time.  He was the long distance relationship from her hometown up in Gatineau.  After ‘he died,’ the story of her lover was one she’d tell only the closest friends.”

“Why would she do that?”

“It was all a lie.  But you know what the ironic part was?  It’s what helped people relate to her, and somehow, people looked up to her for her advice.”

Kate absentmindedly swirled his cup around, the coffee whisking about the waxed walls, leaving no trace when she set it down.

“How’d you find out all this?”

“She brought her laptop to the shop, and…”

“You knew her?”

“Well, no…”

Anthony’s brow wrinkled.  “Then, you were reading her files?”

“She’s the same age as us.  It wasn’t all that well written and she doesn’t seem like a writerly type, if you know what I mean,” she nodded sadly. He rolled his eyes a bit. “I just did some sleuthing and the story checks out– emails and everything.”

“Oh Kate, what have you gotten yourself into,” he was rubbing his face tiredly.  Trust Kate to not only get into these morally dubious situations, he thought, but to not even notice.

“Nothing!  I just took an image of her HD because I thought it was interesting.  You have no idea how boring it is at work sometimes.  I need something to make me look busy otherwise the geek squad all start to hit on me.”

There was a bit of a pause and her eyes stared at him for a moment atop her pleasant, inviting smile, as if expecting him to say something to that.

“So, you read it all?  How much is there?”

She sighed. “Not all of it.  It’s her diary, her emails, her chat logs mostly.  It’s not linked, so I it takes time to bounce between them and match up the dates to figure out what’s going on.  The diary is the key though– that’s where you see just how well she’s playing everyone.  He was her only love, and he wasn’t even real,” she explained.  “Or maybe he was. I mean, the love was real, right? How is love ever fake? I think in the end, she really did believe it was all true.  I mean, you know how that Queen song goes, right?”

Anthony hated how she always asked him if he knew what she was talking about.  At first he’d thought it was endearing, as if she wanted him to complete her sentences, but now he took it like some form of subtle mind control.  It wasn’t enough to know what she was thinking– he was expected to think like her.

“Which one?” he asked.

“Uh, hello? The one that says something like ‘Find me Somebody To Love.'”

“Yeah.”

“Well, that’s sorta how it goes right?  She found herself someone to love and it was so great that it was the only person she loved for what, over ten years?  And that he dies in an accident– isn’t that great too?  Because then, there’s no time for the story to get boring– he dies at the peak of their passion.  If that isn’t romantic, I don’t know what is.”

“You’re talking about him as if he was real,” he mumbled.  “I dunno.  To me, it’s all so Shakespeare.  Everyone’s probably going to die in the end, or everyone’s going to end up hooked up.  Since the boy is already dead, you know which way I’m guessing.”

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