Sarah Mancuso had not been in a relationship for three years. There had been two mishaps in between when replacements failed to understand she was seeking closure from outside the original source of her discontent. They were hopeless romantics, thirty and single. Saints, maybe, in another life. She attracted men with high expectations.
Sarah felt guilty over these emotional trespasses. She had decided on a strategy of patience. There would be no more rushing, either toward love or indifference.
Sarah was a relaxed Catholic. Yet she could swear sensing the musty odor of her childhood church rising into her nostrils whenever careless with another’s feelings. That had not happened in awhile. The guilt.
No more easy intimacy. D.J. Thomas was convenient in this specific sense. He and Sarah had been talking for weeks, but at a distance. Sarah knew D.J. as a face inside a box. The small square was next to a brief description of his life. They had a technological meeting, through the impersonal connectivity of the Internet. It was on Twitter, a website where people could advertise, share their thoughts, or pine for the affections of celebrities, among other uses. Beamed messages from users were prohibited from extending beyond one hundred forty characters.
Amy, a fellow waitress, had suggested Twitter to Sarah, as a way to make connections. Sarah smiled and nodded; not having a clue what her self-proclaimed protégé was talking about. “Oh it’s great,” Amy, the NYU societal butterfly had said, “It’s so, you know, random. It’s a great way to kill time.” Amy was a writer too, and Sarah hated her sometimes. For the time she had to kill. Amy looked at Sarah like a big sister. She saw most of life through sunshine shades.
Sarah was not immediately impressed by Twitter, her first contribution to the global conversation being, “this is stupid.” Amy replied to this initial Tweet with a typed frowning face, semicolon and parenthesis passing judgment. Sarah was soon hooked, though. She enjoyed collecting followers. It made her feel special. Marginalization was the marching beat of most every day. So Sarah was undeniably pleased at each new individual who subscribed to her Tweets, allowing herself to belief she was interesting. It felt good to be appreciated.
Twitter allowed users to favorite Tweets. Sarah’s insights had earned this designation with twenty different followers. She started keeping track of these types of stats.
Sarah was given to self-deprecating humor. Her tiny profile picture, hanging beside the personal description, was a close-up shot of her reading a Dictionary and appearing perplexed. She had dirty blonde hair and pale skin, a bony, angular, expressive face. Her eyes had a dark emerald shine. Sarah was attractive. It may have explained a few of the five hundred followers. Her description read simply, “I’m a writer, save me.”
Sarah followed D.J. because he was a literary agent. The truth was, however, nobody truly networked via Twitter. It would be perceived unprofessional to fire off unsolicited queries through the site’s direct messaging service.
D.J. almost immediately followed her back. Sarah did not find him particularly attractive, at first. In his photo he appeared stern, the top of his neck giving away a collared shirt. Dark skin and close-cropped black hair matched a piercing stare. If he was a man intent on being taken seriously by strangers, D.J. had succeeded in spades. His credentials would have been enough. He worked for the Gilded Thorn publishing company, one of the top outfits in Manhattan. They had a building downtown that was over eighty years old. D.J. had ten thousand followers.
It started when D.J. replied to her Tweets. At first he would send Sarah a smiley face, often after political postings. She believed emoticons were lazy. Human beings could do better. Words were the highest form of expression to her. “Is this guy a spam bot or what,” Sarah wondered aloud in the restaurant’s kitchen one day, to which a soda tray carrying, passing by Amy replied, “I knew you would get into it!” Indeed, Sarah had become fully invested in Twitter, obsessively skimming through her timeline (a record of the Tweets made by those she followed. Sarah followed one hundred thirty people) while on break.
She was interested in D.J. Sarah wanted more from him. She wanted the serious literary agent to make an effort while tweeting with a popular, interesting girl such as herself. At least this is what she was thinking, without even realizing it.
The smiley faces eventually became non-sequiturs. “Trickier than a handful of hay,” D.J. tweeted one day, responding to a post by Sarah pondering ways the government could help recent college graduates with their student loans. “A handful of hay, what the fuck is he talking about,” Sarah said aloud at the bar where she was hanging out with Amy and her friends. “This is getting serious,” Amy offered, stirring her margarita with a tiny plastic umbrella.
Then, a couple Tweets got a little personal. “What do you write,” and “Interesting, poetry is not selling. Integrating within novels is good idea,” were jewels compared with prior correspondence. After a real tough one, working a double, Sarah staggered into her apartment, turned on her computer, and found a direct message from D.J. that excited and scared her.