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Jo'Burg Days: Internet Lovers

In Barbara Durlacher's intriguing tale an internet love affair turns out not to be what it had seemed.

"You really are a pig!” she cried, slamming the frying-pan down, and rushing out of the kitchen. “And you’re a lazy cow!” he yelled after her, banging his feet on the polished coffee table and opening another beer.

Another of their horrible fights, occurring with increasing frequency these days. Solving nothing, these slanging matches exacerbated the growing discontent between them, fuelling their frustrations and making them wonder if there was any point going on.

No matter how hard she tried, she never seemed to please him. She cooked him the tastiest meals and had them waiting on the beautifully decorated table as he came home from work. “How can you expect me to eat hot food on a boiling summer’s day the moment I come in the door?” he raged. “I need time to relax, have a shower and change into something cool, before I have to tackle your awful cooking. You should realise I need a drink before I have to tackle the muck you dish up.”

She delayed serving the meal until he’d had time to change, enjoy a drink and watch the early evening news. “Don’t you realise how hungry I am after a hard day’s work? I want my meal as soon as I’m ready.” he spat, shoving her roughly against the hot stove.

“Varelly, don’t!!” she pleaded, “You’re hurting me! The stove’s hot! Now look what’s happened. I’ve burnt my hip on the oven door. It’ll leave a huge blister and you know you always like me to be your perfect princess in the bedroom. I want to give you as much pleasure as I can, my darling.” Wheedling and sidling up to him, gently putting her arms around his neck, she breathed in his ear, ”I’m ready to try those sex toys you brought home, you know. But I want my body to look perfect for you when we make love.”

“Get away from me, you slut,” he growled. “No matter how perfect you think your body is, I wouldn’t have sex with you if you were the last woman in the world!”

Losing heart, she couldn’t even be bothered to clear away the meal. “I’ll leave it on the table,” she thought. “I know him, as soon as my back’s turned, he’ll creep back, and wolf the lot. But I’ll pretend I haven’t noticed and not say a word. I’m so sick of fighting. I just can’t be bothered to point out how inconsistent he is. Damn him, the rotten sod. Thank heavens for the internet and my wonderful lover. I can pour my heart out to him. He always understands.''

Cross-legged with her laptop she called up her “Daemon Lover”, and for a couple of hours they exchanged their deepest thoughts. She told him how misunderstood she was and how, no matter how hard she tried to placate her impossible husband, nothing ever worked. “I’ve done everything I can to make him happy,” she moaned into cyberspace. “I’d give up my life to make him happy, but he’s just never satisfied and won’t even try to meet me half-way.''

In return, her “Daemon Lover” unburdened his heart. “She knows how desperately I want children. But since she had that false pregnancy, she’s refused to try again and says our marriage is perfect the way it is.”

Months passed, and the bond between the internet lovers grew stronger. Waves of warmth and love passed between them and she realised she’d never before known such pure understanding.

“Darling, I’ve never been able to speak to anyone in the way I can speak to you,” she told him as they engaged in their usual hour or two of internet chatter. “You experience exactly the same emotions as mine the moment I express them. You’re so sensitive to every nuance of my being, I can hardly believe my luck to have found a soul-mate like you. We should meet, I know we’d both adore one another and become inseparable. What do you think? I’m free any time, just tell me the place and time and I’ll be there.”

“Don’t like that, and that, or that,” she grumbled, tossing her colourful frocks one after the other onto the bed. “Think I’ll just wear something quiet and restrained with a scarf over my hair. Don’t want to put him off with a high fashion number. If I don’t like the looks of the man and want to slip quickly away he won’t notice me if I’m wearing something inconspicious. I’ll sit quietly in a corner and fade into the background. Then, if I want to leave, he’ll never even know I’ve been there.”

Sitting at the back of the coffee shop she had plenty of time to watch the door for newcomers, and was beginning to wonder if her lover would put in an appearance when to her horror she saw Varelly opening the door. “What on earth is he doing here?” she thought frantically. “Imagine finding my husband here when I’m waiting for my lover.”

Noticing her immediately, Varelly joined her and sat down. “Maria, what on earth are you doing here?” he said roughly. “You said you had an appoint to see the dentist this afternoon? You always go straight to bed with painkillers afterwards,. Yyou’re such a little coward. How come you’re enjoying yourself in a coffee shop instead?”

“Well, I could ask you the same thing, Varelly” Maria replied. “You told me you had an out of town business appointment and rather than driving home you’d spend the night at a B&B.”

“Oh, well. Perhaps we misunderstood one another,” Varelly quickly covered up. “I’ll order some coffee and schnapps. It’s cold outside and we need something to warm up.”

Constantly glancing at his watch, after a few moments she couldn’t bear the tension any longer, and bursting out she said, “You’re meeting somebody aren’t you? I know you. You wouldn’t make up such an elaborate story for your boss unless it was something really important. That’s why you’re here isn’t it?” she pleaded with tears in her eyes.

“Yes, you stupid woman. I’m here to meet my lover. ‘My darling’. ‘My dear one’. The woman who understands me better than you’ve ever done, more than you could in a million years. She loves me better than my mother and my sisters and better than any other woman in the world, including you. We talk every day on the internet and I love her as much as she loves me.”

As the full import of his words washed over her, Maria knew she had to find out more. “What name did you use to attract such a prize?” she asked, faking an interest although she already knew the answer.

I’m her “Daemon Lover’ and she’s my ‘Pretty Baby”, Varelly boasted. “She knows what a marvel I am in bed. I’ve told her how every woman I’ve ever known has begged me for more. She knows I’m the best lover in the world. I’ve told her what a ghastly marriage I have and how my wife and I can never agree on anything. She’s the wife and lover I’ve always wanted, and we’re going to live together even if my wife won’t give me a divorce.”

Appalled at the extent of his self-delusion, Maria decided to bring him down to earth.

“You stupid, stupid fool. Well, I’ve got something to tell you. You call yourself “Daemon Lover”. You think you’re such a fantastic lover, do you. Well, I’ve got news for you. I’m your “Pretty Baby” and we’ve been talking to one another on the internet for months. Speaking from personal experience and not your fevered imagination, I can tell you that you certainly are NOT the perfect lover you think you are. You’re hopeless and always have been. No wonder our marriage is such a failure!”

Stooping to collect her handbag and gloves from the floor, she flung back over her shoulder, loud enough for the whole coffee shop to hear.

“You say you want a divorce, do you? Well, you can have one. You liar, you cheat, you PIG! And if you want proof, I’ve saved every word of our conversations. All the “sweet nothings” you fed me, making me think I’d found the man of my dreams. Somebody who’d truly love me and cherish me and appreciate me for who I really am. I also came here to meet my lover you wretch, and all I got was you. Well, I’ve stopped trying. I’ve had enough. Our marriage is over.”

Eyes blinded by tears, she flung out of the coffee shop and darted between the cars. The early sleet had turned to snow and a fine layer of ice covered everything. Accelerating to catch the light, the taxi appeared out of nowhere. Wheels locked, it slammed on it’s brakes, the vehicle turning broadside as it sent the woman flying.

Collecting his change, Varelly left the coffee shop. In the distance, lay a pile of slush and a heap of crumpled clothing. A cold wind lifted the corner of a scarf, revealing a tumble of golden curls.

“She must have been a pretty baby”, murmured an onlooker.


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