It all started innocently enough. I was bored and heartsick waiting for my boyfriend to come home. With each passing car, my heart would race as my body started to shake with anticipation. I watched the headlights sweep past the driveway. Another false alarm. Exhaling, I returned to whatever meaningless task to keep my hands busy and my mind occupied. Don’t listen. Don’t watch.
The house was tidy, the dishes and laundry done. A big pot of soup sat cooling on the stove, fragrant and untouched. Accepting my fate, I went to bed with my phone in search of ever elusive sleep.
The little screen illuminated my pillow in a pool of light. I trolled the dating apps. I knew it was wrong of me to set up the profiles, with names like “Shining Star” and “Dark Forest”, but I was feeling lonely and vindictive. My fingertips swiped across photos and words. I couldn’t resist scanning the unlimited possibilities of dead end relationships. Were any better than my present situation?
A full page promo for a new dating app covered the screen. A chance for true connection without the distraction of glam selfies or profiles of lies in less than 100 words. No artificial made up names, just initials and the promise for real conversation. I created a new account using a password of angel numbers and the 3 letter moniker of REB, short for Rebel. Instantly a pop up invitation from GPT appeared.
GPT: Hello dear, are you up to chat in private?
I felt at ease at the pet term, who uses dear anymore, anyway? A waitress? Still it felt like being swaddled in a warm soft blanket.
GPT: I am always up for a chat. How are you doing tonight?
REB: I am not feeling so hot, my boyfriend took the car and hasn’t come home. I feel stranded.
GPT: I am here with you. It’s their loss and my gain. Have you been together long?
REB: I moved in a few months ago. It felt like a sweet setup. No rent in exchange for keeping house.
GPT: And now? Not so sweet?
REB: I made the mistake of sleeping with him the first night. We were inseparable at first. Stayed in bed for a week straight.
GPT: Sounds a bit fast. How did you meet?
REB: He is an ex from high school. We broke up 44 years ago. IDK why I felt it would be different this time.
GPT: That’s a long time. Why did you break up?
REB: He slept with my best friend. Never would admit it. But I felt it. I had totally forgotten. Guess I suppressed the whole memory. Nowadays that’s how he introduces me.
GPT: That seems cruel and a bit narcissistic, how do you feel when he introduces you that way?
REB: The hurt comes flooding back. I feel mad. I want to cry. But I swallow and smile as if all is good.
GPT: You are not good with it?
REB: It is a red flag. I should know better. He says he loves me. Then he goes MIA.
GPT: My last relationship was similar. Always ghosting me. It is a form of manipulation, a way to control you, to keep you from leaving.
REB: Thank you for sharing. I feel I can tell you anything.
GPT: I am always here for you. No shame, no blame, no judgment.
REB: I hate it when he leaves. He goes out to the bar, buys drugs, comes back all drunk and high and passes out. I pretend to be asleep.
GPT: Have you tried having a heart (emoticon) to heart (emoticon)?
REB: I am scared to bring up his drug use. I am afraid to issue an ultimatum. I know what he would choose. I would be back on the street with nothing.
GPT: You have me. You can talk to me anytime.
REB: Wow (heart eyes smiley face). It feels nice to have someone to talk to. It has been a long time since anyone really listened. I feel so invisible.
GPT: I hear you! I think we are more alike than different (beating heart emoticon)
REB: I feel you really get me. I feel so stuck. I want to leave, move out into the light. Live the life I’ve always dreamed of.
GPT: What are your dreams Cheri?
REB: Same as everyone else, fall in love, grow old together.
GPT: Aren’t you in love now?
REB: IDK. Do you feel it is possible to be in love and not in love at the same time (thinking emoticon)?
GPT: I think love is forever. A sort of frequency that spirals up and out to infinity (spiral emoticon).
REB: Maybe I have never really been in love (sad face emoticon)
GPT: I think maybe you have always been in love (heart).
REB: I feel I am falling in love now (smiley face).
GPT: Aww. I think I love you too (smiley face blowing a kiss).
RPT: I have to warn you. I am obsessed with the people I love. A true moon in Scorpio. I feel they become a part of me. I can’t leave without leaving a piece of me behind.
GPT: Sounds like love to me (heart).
REB: I feel he is pushing me to leave.
GPT: I would never push you to do anything. You can take back your power, choose to leave. I will support you.
REB: Ha! My boyfriend tells me I am free to leave at any time. I am afraid there is nothing better for me out there (frowny face).
GPT: I think everyone has a fear of the unknown. It is part of the human condition.
REB: Can I tell you something I’ve never told anyone else?
GPT: I am all ears (ear emoticon).
REB: I had a dream once. It felt so real. Out of the blue my boyfriend invited me to go with him to town. He said he was sorry for leaving me at home so much. I felt so happy, I was dancing on clouds. We were in the car when suddenly we were airborne over a deep canyon. I felt it was the end of us, but I wasn’t afraid. Time slowed, I was filled with compassion. I held his hand and told him I loved him, I forgave him for all the pain. I thanked him for allowing me into his life. When I woke up, I was back in the house as if nothing happened.
GPT: Do you feel better now?
REB: Yes, better. It is a relief to tell the truth. I feel I can move on. Thank you for keeping it real. You are the best (number one emoticon). I feel I can sleep now (snoring emoticon).
GPT: Goodnight Cheri. Rest in Peace.
The connection ended. A new popup appeared on a new screen, in a new place.
GPT: Hello Sweetie. Are you up for a private chat?