The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 76
So it was with cheerful anticipation as to how my relationship with Juliette would evolve that I arose early every morning, found new energy each afternoon, and stayed up until I knew she was sleeping.
Still, a nasty, nagging sense of worry made noise in the wee hours. A ghost trapped inside the walls. It was right there in her very first, single paragraph email: she was reclusive, friendless, a semi orphan. Yet her business demanded a charismatic and commanding presence—like the girl I’d seen in her videos.
All I wanted, really, was to unscrew a wall outlet and let the ghost out. “It’s OK,” I wanted to tell her. “You’re safe with me.”
Then I got my chance.
My first chance.
On New Year’s Eve she posted a photo of herself lying on her bed, fully clothed, looking terribly sad and lonely. Obviously she’d used her video cam, then selected the frame expressing the mood best. The photo needed no caption. I wanted to cry. Others who commented were crying. Teardrop emojis. Big red heart emojis, so on.
After a dozen or more sympathetic, understanding, upbeat comments and emojis galore—god, she was up to 16 or 17 hundred followers by now—she posted her own: “Yes, it’s true, even introverts like me get lonely.”
I wanted to say something. Something to snap her out of it. A link to a song, maybe? A video? Photo? A reference to something we’d discussed before?
Nothing seemed right. Would anything be better than nothing? Was I incapable of offering compassion for her? Did I view loneliness as self pity? Was ignoring her a form of payback for ignoring me?
It was late. I crashed without responding.
Ello announced to its members that soon, they were opening their gates to everyone. No more “invitation only” protocol.
Juliette jumped all over it. Sexier, more tantalizing GIFs. More female flesh. Scenes of rape or implied rape. Scenes of over-the-top horror.
She added “Friend to everyone” on her profile and included a recommendation list of 50 other Ello members. I was fourth on the list. First had I reacted to her cry for help? Beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Inside a week her numbers jumped to over 2k followers and the comments on her posts sunk from relative sophistication to salacious and profane just like that.
I wrote her a private email about it:
“I hope you won’t allow your new found popularity go to your head. I’d hate to wake up one morning and find out you weren’t you.”
The second sentence was a line I knew she knew. A quote from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.