I sit at the dining table, staring at the Facebook video call window on my laptop screen. ‘Oh, where is Anna?’
Thanks to the bloody Covid-19 Lockdown, I haven’t seen Anna for a month — yes, a whole month. Even though we didn’t see each other every day, we still met up once a fortnight, if not weekly, in the pub for a burger and chips lunch or in Starbucks for a naughty slice of cake and a latte — she prefers mochas.
It doesn’t look like Lockdown is ending any time soon, so Anna suggested we do a drink-and-eat meetup via video call.
I’m not a technology first-timer. I’m only 35, so I’ve used computers and the internet before, but I’m not experienced in making video calls — I tried doing a video call with one of my work colleagues, but that didn’t go so well. But I miss seeing my friend, so I’m excited to see her, even if it is via video rather than in person.
To make sure I didn’t waste time by trying to figure out making a video call, I found some instructions online. And, surprisingly, I was logged in and ready to chat within minutes — you can now call me a Facebook Video Call Expert.
So here I am on a Saturday afternoon, tapping my nails on the desk as I wait for Anna. Seriously, where is she? I sent her the instructions I found, so she shouldn’t have had any issues — I didn’t.
I pick up my cup of latte (not from Starbucks, sadly, but one of my latte instant coffee sachets) and take a sip. ‘Ouch! Too hot!’ I return my drink to its mat and fan my stinging lips.
With my lips no longer on fire, my attention moves to the slice of Victoria sandwich cake on the plate beside me. Would Anna mind if I start eating without her? My stomach rumbles. I don’t think I can wait much longer.
‘Hey, I’m here.’
I jump in my seat. ‘Oh, oh, hey!’ I say, removing my gaze from the cake and focusing on Anna’s flushed face displayed on the laptop screen.
‘Sorry I’m late,’ she says, pushing her hair from her face. ‘My laptop is playing up. Not sure what’s wrong with it.’
‘I told you to buy a new one.’
Anna rolls her eyes. ‘This laptop is as good as new and hundreds of pounds cheaper.’
‘Hmm, now would a new laptop break down a week after you buy it?’
‘Look, I’m sure it’s just a little technical glitch.’ Anna rubs her head, face flushing further.
‘Well, if the issues continue, speak to the seller, and if he doesn’t reply, we’ll hunt him down together.’
Anna laughs. She stops laughing and gasps.
‘What’s wrong?’ I say, watching Anna’s startled face.
‘There’s someone behind you,’ she says, pointing.
Someone behind me? How could someone be behind me? I live alone. And I didn’t hear anyone coming into the flat. My shoulders tense. What if someone is behind me? Waiting to hurt me. ‘What do you mean there’s someone behind me?’
‘It…’ Anna squints and moves her face closer to the screen. ‘It looks like the girl from the film The Ring.’
The Ring! Really? For fuck’s sake. I turn around, facing my potential intruder. No one is behind me — only my white dressing gown and black cardigan, which is on top of the dressing gown. I stand up and take the items off the office door and wave them at Anna. ‘Woo, is this my ghost girl?’ I wave it closer to the screen and laugh.
‘Oh, I’m such an ass.’
I put my clothes back onto the door. ‘Yep, you are.’
‘Sorry for freaking you out.’
‘And so you should be — you nearly scared the shit outta me.’
‘Sorry, okay, I didn’t mean it. It just looked like the girl.’
‘Have you been drinking?’
‘What? No, it’s too early for alcohol.’
‘Taken any drugs?’
I sit back down on my desk chair. ‘Okay, okay, I’m just checking. I suppose I can see how it looked like the girl from The Ring.’
I return my focus to the laptop screen. Anna fills most of it, but a black figure stands behind Anna. ‘Oh, look, you have one too. It’s not the girl from The Ring, though.’ I say, studying the figure behind Anna. ‘After all the comments you make about how messy my flat is; it looks like you’re just as messy. What happened to “clothes go in the wardrobe, not on the door”?’ I cross my arms and shake my head — at last Miss Super Clean has lost her crown.
Anna frowns. ‘What’re you talking about? I don’t hang clothes on the door. You know I can’t stand…’ Her frown changes into a smile. ‘Oh, okay, I see, trying to get revenge, make me think someone’s behind me.’
‘Are you sure you haven’t hung any clothes on the door?’
‘Okay, so we’re still playing.’ Anna throws her hands to her face. ‘Oh no, I have no clothes on the door. It must be an intruder or a ghost. Oh, I’m so scared, but I must turn around.’ Anna stands up and shakes her shoulders. ‘Oh no, my shoulders can’t stop shaking, oh no, look.’
Anna turns around. ‘It’s… what the fuck! Who are you? How did you get into my…’ She stumbles back into the desk, blocking my sight of the room. ‘Trisha call the…’
‘Anna! What’s wrong? You better not be messing about.’
Another deafening scream erupts from my speakers.
‘Anna, what’s going on?’
The video call ends.
Copyright © 2020 Nicole J. Simms. All Rights Reserved.
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