I suffer from social anxiety. Like most with my condition I get uncomfortable in large social situations. I’m also pretty apprehensive about meeting new people in general. As a result, I’m usually lonely. I don’t have many friends and the few I’ve managed to gather over the years live back east. I get most of my social interaction online. As a result, I was more than excited when I found a community for people like myself online. I lurked at first, but after a while I started talking and in the process I made a few friends.
One such friend was Sharon. Sharon went by the screen name emptyslumber99. She was a socially awkward girl from Wisconsin who stayed holed up in her dorm room at Purdue University when she wasn’t attending class. We met in the main forum, but before long, we exchanged private messages using the site’s chat interface. By the end of the month, we were having regular Skype video calls. It was nice to have made a friend, much less a female friend who was appealing as Sharon.
I was comfortable chatting online, but I withdrew at first when she playfully mentioned meeting up in person. She was more than 1500 miles away and I barely had the strength of mind to go to work in the morning, much less on a road trip. She asked a few times, but after a while it didn’t come up again. We talked and chatted for the better part of six months until the holiday season rolled around. We exchanged addresses and I sent her a Christmas card. It was at this point I started to worry I had done something to offend her.
We had talked everyday for months and I had grown accustomed to her calling at precisely five in the afternoon. Five o’clock came and went with no call. I sat at my computer for the next three hours sending messages asking if — and what — I had done something wrong before giving up and realizing that this connection, like many others over the years, had come to an end. I went back to browsing the main forum and talked about the experience using generic terms before heading to bed in tears.
A few days passed and I went back to my routine of lurking on the forums and generally hating myself. All of a sudden my head jerked toward the front door.
Knock, knock, knock.
I wasn’t expecting anyone, so I sat there staring blankly at the door. Then I heard it again.
Knock, knock, knock.
I crept over to the door and stared through the peephole to see Sharon looking intently at the door. She was squirming where she stood and seemed to be rocking back and forth on her heels. I opened the door.
“Umm…hi,” I said.
She awkwardly smiled.
“So…I was in the neighborhood and all…”
She pushed open the door and tackled me to the floor with a hug. My general anxiety was triggered with the realization that I was making physical contact with a girl almost 10 years my junior. I awkwardly wriggled from beneath her and slid across the floor to prop myself up against the couch. Sharon shifted to cross her legs.
“I’m in town a few days. Mind if I crash here?” she asked.
I nodded my head.
She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.
“You’re awesome,” she said.
Sharon ran back to her car and came back with a bag. Within 20 minutes she had taken over my bathroom and posted up on the couch. After the initial shock of my chat buddy showing up on my doorstep faded, things felt surprisingly normal. She posted up next to me with her laptop and I browsed the anxiety forum while sending her private messages. Somehow, it was easier to talk that way. We sat next to each other on the couch trading messages for the better part of an hour before she opened her mouth to say something.
I turned my head to her.
“I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I don’t want to like fool around or anything,” she said.
I looked back at my laptop.
“Nothing to worry about,” I said. “I’m a bit too old to think I would have a chance with a girl like you.”
She punched me in the arm.
“What do you mean by girl like me?”
I was feeling anxious again.
“Well, I mean, you are pretty and young,” I stammered. “I didn’t want to assume that someone as cool and good looking as you would want to get with me. Sorry if I offended you.”
“That’s actually kinda sweet. Thanks.”
We went back to chatting and that was the end of the discussion.
For the next couple of days, I sat next to her on the couch chatting, probably saying six words out loud when I wasn’t at work.
One day, I came home and turned on the television. Sharon turned to me and asked if I wanted to watch a movie on Netflix.
“No, I’d rather watch the evening news,” I said. “Apparently my boss paid for a commercial to be made for our company and the commercial is going to air at 5:36 PM. Maybe later?”
She became visibly anxious.
“Everything on the news is about death and violence. Can we please watch something else?” she asked.
I set the news to record to the DVR and tossed her the remote. We spent the next hour or so watching Cartoon Network while I caught up on some work I needed to finish by morning. Sharon stood up after and said she was going to take a shower. She disappeared into the bathroom and I queued up the news. I fast-forwarded to the commercial and watched it with a smile. It made my boss look like a complete idiot. The advertisement ended and the news came back with a picture of Sharon.
“…Police are on the lookout for Sharon Vessly, a college student from Lafayette, Indiana who is wanted for questioning in the homicide of her roommate Jennifer Ross. If you have any information as to her whereabouts please contact Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Department at…”
I looked up to see Sharon standing in the doorway with a crazed look in her eyes.
“I told you I didn’t want you to watch that,” she whispered, holding a pair of scissors.
“I’m…sorry,” I said. “Do…do you want to watch that movie now?” I gulped.
She took a step towards me and I could see dried blood on the scissors. I thought she was going to stab me, but instead, she sat next to me on the couch.
“I killed her with these scissors,” she said. “I should have thrown them away but they had sentimental value.”
“Your first murder,” I said, trying to make conversation. “I can see that.”
“Oh, Jenn wasn’t my first murder!”
Her speech became more erratic as she described the murder.
“Jenn kept bringing her creepy boyfriend over and she would fuck him right there even if I were in the room,” she said. “It was disrespectful. One day she came back to our dorm room and I buried these scissors in her chest.”
“Relax though,” she said, chuckling. “I’m not going to stab you in the chest.”
“That’s oddly specific,” I interrupted.
Her demeanor changed. She plunged the scissors into my stomach.
“Don’t be rude,” she hissed. “I was talking.”
She pulled the scissors out and continued talking as if nothing had happened.
“As I was saying, she had to die. You’re such a nice guy and I had your address, so I came here. I don’t want to go to jail. It’s too scary. I probably would’ve stayed here forever if you had just done as you were told… Now you’re going to bleed to death.”
Sharon looked longingly at my wounded stomach.
I was fighting incredible pain as I held my hands firmly against the wound. As I futilely tried to keep as much blood as I could on the inside, Sharon leaned over and kissed me firmly on the lips.
“There,” she said. “You were my first kiss. That wasn’t nearly as awkward as I thought it would be.”
She then grabbed her backpack from beside the couch and announced she was leaving.
“I’ll be leaving now,” she said. “You’re probably going to bleed out in the next couple of minutes.”
She walked out the door as I reached for my cellphone and dialed 9-1-1.
I passed out in the ambulance.
A week later I came home with a few stitches and doctor’s orders to spend as much time laying down as I could. Upon arriving at my house, I checked the mail and sure enough, there was a Christmas card from Sharon. It was a Hallmark card with a picture of a reindeer on the cover. There was no return address on the envelope.
The inside flap of the card read: “I heard you lived. Maybe we can go on a date sometime?”