Summer 1999. We were trying out email as a form of communication.
I wrote: “I’m so hungry. I really want some cake.”
She wrote: “If I had any cake, you would be the first and only person I would send it all to.” I started to type a reply but couldn’t think of anything that was equally sweet and a little bit funny.
Two nights previous I had a dream in which she and I and a girl from our favourite tv show murdered three people in a department store. It was late at night, just before the store shut. Our only motive was that we had figured out how to do it without getting caught so of course we wanted to. We worked together in silence. Once the victims were dead we hid them in new coats hanging on a rack. There was blood all over the floor. I don’t remember if we wore gloves or not, our fingerprints could have been everywhere. We walked away, calmly and softly through the town. News of the atrocity started to filter through as we were moving in the other direction.
Emails seemed like a way for us to communicate without anyone else reading in, without anyone overhearing us. They were safe, silent and password-protected.
I was worrying. “What if it wasn’t a dream,” I wrote. “What if it wasn’t a dream?”
“If you end up in prison I’ll bring you any and all the cake I can,” she replied. Then she put an emoticon at the end of her sentence.
“Hey, how did you do that?”
She explained and on my next email I did a whole line of faces across the screen. Then I clicked send and dialled out and went to bed even though it wasn’t quite yet midnight. I didn’t dream about anything that night because I couldn’t get to sleep for worrying about the fact that I might be guilty of a triple murder. And when I came downstairs for breakfast the next morning, all the chairs had been pulled out from around the table and spare ones had been added, which freaked me out because I thought that if I sat down there for just a moment I would be surrounded by police asking me questions and I hadn’t come up with an alibi yet, I hadn’t formulated the lies I could tell.
If I emailed her, I would have to wait for a reply, so I phoned instead. “Hi, can I come round?”
“Ok.” There was no emoticon so I couldn’t tell whether she was happy with this situation – happy or sad or worried or what.
I pulled on my shoes and went out. There were other people outside but I couldn’t understand why they were not indoors, dialling up and sending emails to one another, so I thought that maybe they were all out there looking for me.
When I got to her house we went up to her room, which smelt different to mine. It was exciting just to be sitting on the bed with her.
“If this is real we are screwed.” “Totally screwed.” “What was it like?” “What was what like?” “When we were doing it. Were we happy?” “We were so happy. It was the best thing we had ever done.” “I can’t believe you thought we’d get away with it.” “I know. At the time it all seemed right. It seemed perfect.” “We are so screwed if it’s true though.” “I know. It seemed like we were invincible at the time. But now-“ “If it’s true we are screwed. We’ll never go to college or university, get jobs, have families. We’re going to be in prison for so long.” “I never thought of that at the time. We were just so good, we could have got away with anything. You were amazing.” “If it turns out that we really did kill those people, we are so screwed.”
We were holding hands and I felt like all the emoticons. What had we done? It seemed like the best and worst and most exciting thing ever, all at the same time.