David logged off his chat with Mary and smiled. She had actually flirted with him today. He hoped that it was a sign that she was warming up to him. He stood and rotated his shoulders to ease the stiffness. He checked his watch and calculated he had been online for six hours and he still had a full slate of chats tonight. The women tended to all blend together, needy and pathetic in their desire for his repartee and suaveness.
Like Paula, who twenty minutes before their scheduled chat time, started sending out little forays to see if he would come online early. He never did, could barely tolerate her clinginess, even with the cybermiles between them. She had something he wanted, though, so he steeled himself to endure her come-ons and clumsy attempts at flirting.
Suzanne came online, asking where he was. She was fifteen minutes late like usual. Her scatterbrained messages sometimes arrived half-finished, sentences not going anywhere and thoughts left to hang incomplete in the wind. He wondered if she had a serious mental problem or some sort of addiction like drugs or alcohol, but his gentle hints to find out were only met with silence or nonsense.
His list of cyber ladies went on and on. Each day, he played the online gigolo to their lonely hearts. But, as Sylvia reminded him constantly, if he kept his eyes on the prize, he could endure their inane chatter. Only a few more weeks to go before the plan would come to fruition. At least Mary provided a bright spot in the otherwise dreary lineup.
# # #
Mary hummed the tune to “When You Say Nothing At All” as she waltzed down the stairs after her radio show ended. Her chat with David had sparked a new interest in life. During her show, she handled a record number of callers. Her mood stayed positive even after enduring a trifecta of listener-requested sappy love songs that included “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, “I Will Be Here” by Steven Curtis Chapman, and “Endless Love” by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross.
After her show ended, she couldn’t wind down enough to sleep. She decided a cup of tea would help. Mary spun into the kitchen without turning on the light and collided with the solid figure of a man. Her heart skipped a beat as light flooded the room.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Phantom Love is copyrighted and cannot be used in any form without permission from Sarah Hamaker.