“Let me call you Daddy,” I said.
There was nothing but hiss of a bad digital connection. The screen’s cold glow cast harsh shadows across the rumpled landscape of my bedclothes. I was glad, now, that Blue* had refused to use the camera on Skype. Glad he couldn’t see me because, as the hiss stretched on, I began to cry. Out of shame, maybe. Out of fear that I’d disgusted him.
* * * * *
SLIP32: Don’t you ever get tired of typing?
BLUE*: Sometimes. You?
SLIP32: Wanna Skype?
BLUE*: Cam, you mean?
BLUE*: I want to hear your voice. But no video.
SLIP32: All or nothing.
BLUE*: Just text then.
What if I didn’t like his voice? What if it was squeaky or nasal and a complete turn off? What if he didn’t like my voice?
All or nothing, I’d insisted, for a while. I was mindful of how annoying a voice could be. Sometimes I felt like I spent my life being passed around from one phone voice to another—the bank, the school, the mobile company. The minute there was a problem and I had to talk to someone directly, it was like a voyage into the underworld.
“You’ve reached the offices of…”
“Just hold while I redirect your call.”
“I’m afraid I don’t have access to that information, let me pass you on to our service department.”
“Would you like that in blue or green?”
“Your transaction has been denied due to insufficient funds.”
“I’m sorry, there’s an error in our records.”
“Could you spell your surname again?”
I could develop a fast hate-on for the person at the other end of the line if I didn’t like their voice. More frightening still, I could almost fall in love with someone if they had the right voice. I had long suspected that the Apple Helpdesk hired their staff based on the sexiness of their voice. I once developed a terrible crush on a tech who had stepped me through the process of debugging a hardware problem. It had taken almost four hours. All the way through the steps, he stayed on the line with me. Finally I asked him if he was single. He said he wasn’t.
So, for a long time, Blue* and I stuck to text. For a while it didn’t matter. It wasn’t just his vocabulary or the fact that he didn’t indulge in passion-killing abbreviations. He was a good at it. A teller of hot stories. Enough detail in the right places. And he’d pace his responses just right, as if he could tell exactly how horny he’d made me. At first his posts where slow and long, full of lush descriptions. I’d do my best to match him. As the stories went on, we’d get more explicit, and the lines would get shorter, harsher, raunchier. As if the words themselves were pressing, pushing, demanding, stroking, penetrating. He knew. I knew he knew. He knew I knew he knew. I’d never met anyone who could textfuck the way Blue* could.
BLUE*: Tired of typing yet?
SLIP32: I am. But it’s okay.
BLUE*: Don’t you want to hear my voice?
SLIP32: Yeah, but I want to see you too. Don’t you want to see me?
BLUE*: No. Not really. I like it this way. No visuals.
SLIP32: Scared I’m going to be disappointing to look at?
BLUE*: I’m sure you’re not. But maybe I am.
SLIP32: I don’t care. Anyway, I thought men were supposed to be visual?
BLUE*: How do you know I’m a man? <Arches eyebrow>
SLIP32: Syntax. <Smirk>
In the end I gave in. Mostly because the allure of a two-handed wank was tempting. I’ll admit I was scared, though. We’d been texting for more than a year. I’d grown very fond of Blue*. He wasn’t the only person I was netfucking, but he was my favourite by far. Sometimes I thought I played with other people to keep my feelings for him in perspective.
The first time I heard that creepy ring on Skype—the alert sounds like a submarine in distress—my adrenal glands went into overdrive. There he was. Blue* calling.
“Hello there,” he drawled.
“You’re… You’ve got an accent!”
“Most people do.”
“Scottish? Jesus, you’re Scottish.”
“I am indeed. And you’re American.”
“Don’t. I’m not one of those Canadians.”
“The kind that get offended when people think they’re American.”
“So?” I was a little disconcerted. The transition from text to anything else was always awkward.
“Are you put off by the voice?”
I smiled. “No, not at all. You’ve got a very sexy voice.”
“So do you. What should I call you?”
“I’m not sure. What should I call you?”
I laughed. I heard him breathe. “Okay, Blue. Be that way. I’m Slip.”
“Oh, you’re going numberless.”
“And you’ve dropped your asterisk.”
“How do we start this?”
He hummed. It was a lovely, rumbling cogitation of a hum. “Close your eyes. Put your hands between your legs. I’m going to tell you a story.”
Sometimes Blue would start the story, sometimes I would. We’d always set it somewhere strange: in a deserted laboratory in Antarctica, in the bombed out ruins of Berlin, in the middle of a coup somewhere in South America, or a tea plantation in Assam. We’d always be somewhere other than where we were. Always other people. For a while, we played in the past, like we used to when we texted, but we started running out of historical events.
“New game,” he said, one day. “Are you up for it?”
“Open up Google Maps,”
Coordinates popped up in the message pane. He took me to Japan and he went down on me right outside the Yasukuni Shrine, in the dark, with my hand clamped over my mouth so I didn’t make a noise while I came.
We worked through a list of natural disasters, great battles, and famous palaces. For a while, we did a global tour of graveyards and were ghosts, vampires, the undead, lovers in mourning. Then we downloaded usermaps and went to places where UFOs had been sighted. Sometimes I’d be the alien. Sometimes it would be him. Sometimes it would be fast and rough, sometimes it would be ridiculously romantic.
“Tonight, I want you to come to me in my sleep,” I said.
“Am I a rapacious alien, hell bent on impregnating a human?”
“Do I bend over you while you’re dreaming, and rest my long, grey fingers on either side of your temples and push lewd images into your brain to make you wet?”
Blue wasn’t a prude; he had a boundless imagination and would take it almost anywhere.
“I’m a dragon,” he whispered, one night. “With a long, forked tongue. And I’m going to trail it up the smooth, pearlescent scales of your belly until your dragon cunt weeps bioluminescence. Then…”
“I’m going to devour you, head first.”
“Will it hurt?”
“Maybe a little.”
“Maybe a lot!”
“Not once I’ve swallowed your brain. After that, it’s all mindless ecstasy.”
And it was.
Slowly it got more personal. I showed him on Google Earth where I almost drowned off the coast of Cancun, in Mexico, and he swam out and saved me, and then fucked me slowly on the beach in the wet sand until all the fear was gone.
We got lost. Lost somehow in the maps, and in the pictures of the streets, and the stories. I really think we did. Because after he saved me from drowning, I felt safer. I went swimming few days later, and that old, panicked feeling like I was floating into an abyss was gone. It was as if he’d wormed his way into my memory of that event and fixed it. Made it turn out right.
I didn’t tell him. I didn’t want him to think I was crazy.
He took me to the town where he’d grown up and fucked me from behind against the brick wall of his primary school until my cheek was marked from the roughness of the brick and the soot came off on my hands. We went there a few times. I think, maybe, fucking there did something for him, too, because he was quiet afterwards. We lay there, listening to each other breathe. I thought I heard him trying to hide the fact that he was crying.
“Are you okay?”
“I am. Thank you, love.”
“Just… thank you.”
Over that year, we took each other to every place we’d been wounded, or rejected, or humiliated somehow, and wrote new memories on top of the old ones. Fucked with the timeline. Fucked with our own heads. We never talked about what we were doing; I never told him exactly what the old memory was, and he never told me. It was the sort of magic that only worked in silence. Had I told him the memory—had I put it into words—it would have given the thing too much power, been too strong, too solid to change. In the quiet of knowing, not speaking, the wounds were vulnerable to the forces exerted by our pleasure. They’d re-knit in a different, softer pattern.
* * * * *
“Are you there?” I asked, after more than a minute of empty hiss.
“I’m still here, Slip.”
“Can I call you Daddy?”
The pop-up message informed me that he’d ended the connection. I tried to reconnect but he didn’t answer. An hour later, Blue’s account disappeared.