I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I met him over Twitter. Technology is one hell of a thing. I was followed by @KyleRokins one morning (the account is now deactivated). His location was my city, Des Moines. He looked very cute in the thumbnail of his picture and even cuter when I clicked to enlarge it, so being the rather lonely girl that I am, I followed him back. I’m 28, live alone, and work at a local bar as a bartender. I’m beginning to feel the pressures of isolation; the constant feeling of rejection tinged with a sense of hopelessness. As a girl, I’d always dreamed of a princess wedding adorned with purple and gold. The older I got, the more I felt that dream slipping away. It was perhaps my biggest mistake to have posted about these desires and afflictions on my Twitter page, to have exposed my weaknesses, waiting to be manipulated.
He direct messaged me shortly after. Soon, we exchanged phone numbers, began texting and he started reeling me in. I deleted all of the messages I had with him in attempts to heal the inexplicable wounds he inflicted to my being, as I’m about to explain.
He had hazel eyes that complemented golden skin and auburn hair. His jaw could cut through stone and his chiselled body was that of a God. He paid me his undivided attention. He’d say things like “I knew from the moment I saw you that I had to have you,” right from the get-go. He’d ask me to send selfies, to which he’d shortly reply to with selfies of his own. I opened up about my entire life to him; my past, fears, and ambitions. Now that I think about it, he kept me so busy talking about myself that I neglected to ask about his life. I knew little-to-nothing about him, nothing about where he worked, about his parents, or anything.
But you could say he stole my heart right from the beginning. To me, he was perfect. It wasn’t long before he asked me to have dinner at his house. There was absolutely no way in hell I was going to turn the invitation down.
I spent three hours getting ready that evening. I wore a casual evergreen dress paired with maroon lipstick and loosely curled hair. I wanted to look my best for him. I drove over to the address he gave me and pulled up to a modest little bungalow.
I rang the doorbell and he came to the door. He was even more mesmerizing in person. “Hey,” he smiled showing off his perfect white teeth. He hugged me tight. “You have no idea how much I’ve missed you,” he whispered into the curve of my neck. That was a bit odd of him to say, I thought, as this was our first time meeting. I assumed it was just innocent affection.
The house was beautiful inside. The sweet aroma of spiced apples consumed your senses as soon as you entered. The furniture sat on a cherrywood floor and gave off more of a traditional feel, but was neatly and eloquently arranged, the rest of the house tastefully decorated. There were paintings of landscapes spread across the walls but there were no family or childhood photos to be seen, as you would expect there to be in a home. I was hoping to see some, to get some insight into his life, but I quickly forgot about this wish as soon as he took me into the kitchen and began cooking for me.
He prepared an eggplant casserole served with steamed asparagus, sautéed mushrooms and red wine, followed by sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice cream. A chef, too? I fell in love with him even more. We danced to 50s music on his record player, laughed and conversed the entire night. Under the influence of a wine buzz, one thing led to another and we ended off the night by making sweet, passionate love. It was all-in-all a perfect night. My heart was his. “I should go, it’s getting late,” I said. I didn’t want to seem too clingy or attached, though I felt like I could’ve stayed tangled in his muscular arms forever.
“Promise me I’ll get to see you tomorrow?” he smiled.
“Of course,” I smiled back. And with that, I left.
The next morning I woke up expecting a good morning text, as he sent me one every morning, and maybe even a cheerful mention about the previous night. No text. So I texted him, “Rise and shine, you <3,” the message failed to deliver. I was taken by surprise. I called his number, assuming it might’ve been a data or texting problem from my end.
“The number you have called does not exist.”
At that point I started worrying that something had happened to him. I went to direct message him on Twitter, but like previously mentioned, it was gone, likely deactivated. I was convinced he was the man of the dreams, the man the universe had conspired for me to meet, my destiny. Half-a-day passed before I became hysterical. I paced around my living room thinking about what he was doing, what he was thinking. I drove myself mad with the idea that I had done something to scare him off. I started pounding the sides of my head. This couldn’t be how we ended. I was going confront him, I was going to go back to his house.
I went back to the bungalow the next day. I knocked and an old woman answered the door. She was at least 80, probably three inches shorter than she actually was with a hunched back and shoulder-length snow white hair. The arrangement of the furniture was the same but the aroma of spiced apples had been replaced by the smell of mothballs. I was confused as fuck.
“Hello, may I help you?” she asked politely with a wide smile across her face.
“Is Kyle here…?” I asked, muddled. I didn’t know he lived with anyone. This woman looked too old to be his mother. Perhaps she was his grandmother, I thought.
“Is this another prank?” She raised her voice. She seemed a mix of agitated and upset. A prank? What on earth was she talking about?
“Ma’am, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I came to this house the other night to meet a man named Kyle Rokins just the other night.”
She broke into sobs of despair. “You’re the third one this year. Every time I go to visit my sister in Florida, I come back to a pretty young girl standing on my front porch, asking where Kyle is. Kyle is my son, my only son. Only he’s dead, and has been for 42 years.”
My heart nearly stopped and sank into my gut and my tongue felt stuck to the bottom of my mouth. The shock of the words hit me like lightening. Dead? Had our meeting on Twitter, our lengthy conversations, our date, the love we made, all been a beautiful nightmare? A false dream? There had to be a logical explanation. Maybe it was someone else trying to assume his identity.
I struggled to speak, petrified. “…M-M-Mrs. Rokins? Do you have a picture of K-Kyle? Maybe we’ve both been fooled by someone pretending to be him.”
She wiped her tears. “Of course.” She walked out the scope of my vision and into the kitchen. I heard a drawer open and close. She briefly reappeared. It was an old, faded black and white pocket-sized photograph of his graduation picture. It was definitely Kyle, I couldn’t forget that heavenly face if I tried.
“This is his high school graduation photo taken in 1967.” I felt sick to my stomach. Who was the man I had slept with? Was it a ghost? A hallucination? No, I’m crazy and I’m not one to believe in improbable fairytales or ghost stories. I remember feeling him, his skin, his hair, his breaths, his heartbeat. He was real and I was sure of it.
“How d-did he die, if you don’t mind me asking?” my voice was still shaky. My mind, bewildered with disbelief and anxiety.
“Suicide, over a silly little girl,” the expression on her grief-stricken face suddenly turned into one of disgust and anger. “You’ll have to go now, I’m sorry.” I could tell there was something she wasn’t telling me. And with that, I left.
For some reason, I started to think about killing myself on my way back home. I felt absolutely betrayed, cheated. By who or what? I wasn’t sure. I called in sick to work the next day and spent the day laying in my bed under a heavy buzz of alcohol, withering in desolation, torturing myself with my own thoughts. It was funny because I still craved for who I thought he was when I’d first met him. I felt utterly pathetic for being so attached to someone who might no longer even exist; the ultimate catfish. I began to believe I was actually insane.
The week after was when the morning sickness began. My appetite increased greatly and I began to constantly feel tired at work no matter how much sleep I got the night before. They were all symptoms of a condition that I’m sure you’re all familiar with. “Kyle” was the only man I’d slept with in years. I didn’t want to believe it but my intuitions began to increasingly agonize me, so finally I took a self-test to verify them. I was right, I’m pregnant. With what? I don’t know.
To top it off, today, I woke up to a text. It was from Kyle’s number. “Miss you dearly, Anna,” it read.
My name is Lauren.