20
Jan
21

Writing Prompt: Loneliness

To a little girl in Kentucky, I’m Maxine. Maxine is twelve, loves Taylor Swift, and daydreams about marrying Harry Styles one day. To a bored housewife in Vancouver, I’m Ricardo. Ricardo – or Ricky, as she calls him, thinking she’s being clever – is an undercover erotica writer who claims she’s his muse. To a long-haul trucker usually on the road between Portland and San Diego, I’m Nadine. Nadine is the daughter he didn’t know he had, who tells him stories of her mundane life and keeps him sane on the road. I’m a hundred other things to a hundred other people, but what I really am is just their loneliness reflected back at them.

I’m the voice they want to hear when there’s no one around, the comfort of knowing someone is there for them when there isn’t anyone else. I’m their drug, really, though they don’t know it. The thing they turn to when they need to forget just how desperate and hurting they really are.

It’s unpleasant work, but it has to be done. Without me, the alternatives would be worse. A spirit much worse than me would come to them, then… and nobody wants Ixtab, goddess of suicide, doing any more than she already does.

So I pretend to be their friend, their lover, their lost family member, and keep them going just a while longer. Sometimes they grow out of it; like forgetting a childhood imaginary friend, they move on and find something else to live for. That’s what I hope for when they stop communicating. But I can’t ever be sure. I can’t actually see them, or interact with them; I’m just words on a screen or a scrap of paper. I’m always afraid Ixtab got them in the end, and judging from the content of some of their letters, I’m sure she has. But I’m a more hopeful sort.


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