The snow danced merrily outside Kelly’s window as the wind blew it this way and that, sometimes making little twisters out of it, at others merely sweeping it across the flat roof. The window overlooked a part of the apartment complex that was inaccessible to the tenants, which was a shame, since it seemed to invite a picnic table and chairs during the summer months, and a beautiful place to stargaze and shiver during the winter.
Kelly, however, was insensible to all of this. Her eyes zoomed continually between the keyboard and the screen. Twenty-two years old, her fingers were round and pudgy and still unable to type easily. Kelly had often tried different methods of touch-typing, but she never got the hang of it. It wasn’t so bad, though, since her eyes had learned to move with almost supernatural speed between her typing fingers and the words forming in the blank white boxes on her screen.
Her world was not one of cold and heat, flesh and blood. She would claim differently, of course, for she could absolutely feel emotion, thought and true friendship flowing from the words on her screen. The people she interacted with lived all around the world, some as close as a few apartments away, and others as far as England or Japan. Kelly could see each of them in her mind’s eye, as well as the characters they portrayed online. She spoke to them daily, almost hourly, via the little white boxes that she filled with frantically typed words, chosen carefully so as to display her wit, her inner beauty, her true personality.
When a knock came at the door, Kelly called “It’s open!” without looking up. Two of her friends came in, friends who weren’t a part of her online world. She glanced at them and looked back down to refresh the page and see if there were responses to what she’d written yet. Yes! She grinned and began to read.
Her friends took her smile as directed at them and swooped towards her for an awkward hug. They had to struggle across the floor, strewn with dirty laundry, empty cereal boxes and soda bottles, to get to her, sitting cross-legged on her bed with her laptop perched securely on her knees. She put one large arm out to pat each hugger absent-mindedly on the back, but hardly listened as they began to describe the party they’d been at, how they’d missed her and why she should now come with them.
“Hm?” she asked, looking up with unfocused eyes.
Her friends repeated their questions, exchanging glances of exasperation. Kelly was always like this, they seemed to say to each other silently, and, as they’d expected on arrival, they left her in her small room without managing to draw her away from her computer. As they left, each of them saw her as being incredibly alone, a small mound of a person sitting lonely on a single bed.
Kelly didn’t hear them close the door behind them. She felt surrounded by people, and she chuckled as she read a joke, almost hearing the laughter of people all around the world chiming along with her own.