a story by
(c) 1998 by Chris Yost. All rights to story content reserved. Characters Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, and Tammy Vixen (c) Eric W. Schwartz. Character Roxikat (c) John Barrett. Character Thomas Woolfe (c) Michael Higgs. Characters Chris Foxx, Susan Felin, Cindy Lapine, Debbye Squirrel, Clarence Skunk, Dexter Collie, and Wendy Vixxen (c) Chris Yost. All rights to additional characters reserved by their respective owners. Story based on characters and situations created by Eric W. Schwartz.
Long, lonely night. Typical of most nights these days -- work, eat in front of TV, 'net, sleep, repeat. Canned food tonight in the literal sense of the word; consumed from the can from whence it came in front of a hockey game which was also typical, losing by three lousy goals.
Chris leaned back and sighed heavily, his eyes turning toward the computer. He stared into the remains of his dinner, then at the computer.
He opened his jowls and yawned. "I really shouldn't ... well, maybe just long enough to check my e-mail," which was usually how his marathon chat sessions began every time. Walking over to the computer table he pushed his bushy tail through the back of the chair and logged into his provider.
Thomas was out of town again. Amy was in her own world, finding herself reading magazines having less to do with fashion and modern trends and more to do with being a new mother. Thomas had been great, even though Amy'd remarked on different occasions he was floating along in some other world, somewhere between denial and insanity. No word of marriage yet though, and when Thomas left on school projects Amy sat with the thought in the back of her brain ...
Is he really coming back?
She knew better, of course. But the seed was there; he may not, and what if he doesn't? Announcing her pregnancy in the middle of lovemaking wasn't the best moment, and the bombshell that sent him flying at warp speed out the front door was a headlong collision with reality.
Amy turned a page, reading the next paragraph about teething. She'd read so much about teething and diapers and bathing and childhood illnesses that she was ready to do what she did during her periods of morning sickness.
... and in the middle was poor Sabrina, who'd spent more time hand-holding and listening and lending a shoulder to cry on that she finally decided to be selfish.
"I'm taking tonight off!" she yelled! "This is MY night, I love both of you and I'll be there for both of you, but I am TIRED and I need time for ME! I'm sorry but I'm going to take tonight and actually RELAX!!"
The mirror in her bedroom agreed with her, and quite possibly Amy would have too had she been there that afternoon. Closing the door to the room where she and Amy kept the Amiga she sat, adjusted her lenses, and logged into her server at Croax-Net.
LONELY? COME ON IN AND CHAT A WHILE!
Chris double-clicked his way in, in hopeful search of female companionship. The general chats were fun, but the private chats were more personal, and occasionally much more fun! But fun or not, Chris felt he needed the closeness of a female, species unimportant, as long as she had a brain and a personality.
puppy> and when he drove over that bridge..WOW!
Carli> Euuuu! Sick!
ILuvU> LOL Carli
Impala4> When he hit those rocks, that was cool!
Chris felt his mind wander. He began looking at the list. Carli sounded like a nice name.
Carli> I went into Fashions today, and I was looking at these great outfits, so I thought I'll try on just these two, but I found five I liked and when I went to try them on, they said all I could take in was three, okay? But I tried to tell them I wanted all five if they fit, they don't need to know I'll probably only buy one or two, but ....
Chris began to look at the list again.
EricS1> Movies are cool, but nothing like comic strips!
SusieQ> Hey Carli, is that Fashions downtown or the big one at the Mall?
>>Sabrina1 has just joined LONELY? COME ON IN AND CHAT A WHILE!
Carli> Hi Sabrina1! LTNS! |8)
Two ears pricked up.
Sabrina1> Hi Carli :)
"Sabrina? Hmm, nice name. Sounds cute."
Chris waited a moment and let the five-subject conversation flow for a few minutes. Next he looked at the list, and she was still there, between Ralfer and SusieQ.
Chris highlighted Sabrina1 on the list.
"She better be a girl!"
>>Private message from Chris: Hi! How are you tonight?
"Contact!" Sabrina was met with opening lines like this one before, but tonight she didn't care. "If it's a guy interested in anything physical it'll come out in the first three to four messages," she told herself, although tonight she wasn't in the mood to fend off unwanted advances. Clicking on Chris' name, she typed a private message back:
>>Hi! Been better, I feel like I'm babysitting my best friend
Make it sound depressing, see if he goes away. Good way to find out if he's after something.
>>Private message from Chris: Really? Howso?
"Hmmm, maybe someone I can actually talk to tonight?" Sabrina twitched her whiskers and began to type again. "One or two more lines to go."
>>She's pregnant and her boyfriend's out of town, and she's really depressed
... and she added a :( for emphasis.
Now, Chris wasn't in the mood to listen to someone's problems, but something in the back of his little fox brain said "keep contact". Chris was, after all, not someone to start a private conversation and abandon the other person, much as he's wanted to time and time again. Sigh. "What else have I got to do?" Besides, he thought, she sounds like she needs a friend.
>>Private message from Chris: Want to talk about it?
It's exactly what Sabrina wanted to do!
>>Thanks, but I just met you, I really don't want to dump on you
Chris pushed his glasses back up his nose an inch where they belonged. She seems like a nice, likeable girl.
>>Private message from Chris: I'm told I'm a good listener :)
The smile made Sabrina giggle unconsciously. "Well, if he's a guy he's beaten the average!" With a smile, Sabrina probed:
>>BTW, can I ask if you're a guy or a girl?
Private message from Chris: Sure, you can ask :)
Sabrina's smile went sideways. It stayed there, but went sideways. Before she could type it though, her answer came back:
'I'm a male fox. And you??'
'I love your name; it's very unusual'
>>Thank you, I like yours too
"Why did I say that!?"
I hate the thought of telling him my life story, Sabrina thought. He seems so nice though, and at least he acts like he's interested.
Sabrina also noticed something else. "He's answering me right away too, I wonder if he is listening."
It was right then Sabrina heard the sound of a magazine hitting the wall in the living room. Something very unladylike was mumbled under her breath. "Timing ... " Timing was everything! Sabrina thought It wasn't very loud, maybe I can pretend I didn't hear it. Then, No, she did that for a reason, I better go and see if she's okay.
>>My roommate needs me. Will you be on for a while? I really would like to talk to you
Her paw went to her mouth. "Gawd, did that sound desperate! Even if he is interested he won't be now!!"
And in truth, Chris' reaction was "Geez, that's typical! Just typical!" He looked at the clock; it wasn't quite bedtime yet, and he still wanted to chat. "Yeah, I should still be 'round," he typed. "Come look for me! :)"
Private message from Sabrina1: Thank you! I'll BRB, I promise!
"BRB: Be Right Back" Chris read Sabrina's sincerity, but never heard her new name for her best friend and roommate.
Sabrina opened the door a crack and peeked out. Amy still sat on the couch, only now her back was to Sabrina, her feet on the cushions, her arms folded. There was a slight tremble in her shoulders. While Sabrina could have easily remained in the safety and privacy of their study, the compulsion to be a best friend opened the door and pushed against her shoulders until she walked in.
In the corner was the parenting magazine Amy threw. Sabrina fought off the compulsion to pick it up. Rather, she walked to the couch and sat on the edge of a cushion, the only place available to sit on it at all.
Amy sat, barely acknowledging Sabrina's presence. She was shivering.
A gentle hand lay on Amy's knee. "Amy, are you all right?"
With a sniffle Amy managed to nod and form a sentence. "He's not coming back, Sabrina."
Though her plans completely included being selfish, she simply couldn't abandon her life-long friend, even in lieu of a new-found one who lived God-knows-where and existed as nothing more to her than a first name on her computer monitor. Sabrina searched for Amy's eyes; they were mostly hidden by her eyelids poorly hiding the clear fact she'd been crying. How can I not be here for her?
Sabrina answered her own question with her spoken answer. "Amy, you say this every time Tom -- Thomas! -- goes away for a few days. The term ends in the next two months or so; you know he has to take these trips, and he always comes back to you!"
Amy shook her head. "Sabrina, I'm doing my best to believe that! I just know he's with someone else! He's with some other girl who's not going to have his baby!" Amy huddled herself closer to herself, fighting back the urge to let loose with a severe emotional fit.
It was times like this when Sabrina wished she had been blessed with the ability to simply come out and tell people how she really felt. "Amy, you've got to stop believing that! I can tell how much it's bothering you -- if Thomas goes on another trip get him to take you with him! It'll put your mind to rest and believe me, you need the time away!"
"I can't do that!" Amy said as she looked away.
Sigh! "Amy, do you respect me?"
Amy looked back, a look of disbelief on her dampened face. "Sabrina, of course I do! You know I would love to go with Thomas! But between my school schedule and my work schedule, I'd never be able to manage!"
"Let's worry about that when the time comes. In the meantime, when Thomas comes back tomorrow, you'll see it was all your imagination, I guarantee it." And she patted Amy's knee for emphasis.
Amy felt the emotions well inside her again. "He was due back TODAY!!" She was fighting her tears and it was a battle she was losing big time! "He promised to call when he got back over an hour ago!!"
And the tears flowed down Amy's cheeks, working their way through her dark brown fur. Sabrina looked over at the telephone and realized the entire problem. "As long as we're on the Internet, we need a second phone line."
Amy looked up at Sabrina.
"Ahh, she's not coming back. I must really be nuts waiting around."
A depressing, boring 40 minutes crept by, taken with four conversations involving movies, boyfriends, sports, and bad Microsoft jokes, one person being ejected for using foul language, and a come-on by a male husky in Wisconsin. And now, surprise! Carli is rattling on about something involving her boyfriend going shopping with her.
Chris snarled. "E-mail before bedtime!"
And Chris moved his mouse to position his cursor over the Disconnect icon.
>>Private message from Sabrina1: Hi! I'm so glad you waited around!
Chris put his left paw over his right and removed it from the mouse. Returning to the keyboard he typed I was starting to get worried, is everything okay?
Chris> I was starting to get worried, is everything okay?
Spanker> Wazzat, Chris?
SusieQ> What's worrying you, Chris? Anything we can do to help?
*LightBright gives Chris a cookie*
"DAMN!" Chris returned his paw to his mouse and clicked on Sabrina's screen name.
>>Private message from Chris: That was supposed to be a private send. Sorry :/
Chris> Sorry everybody, wasn't supposed to public with that one!
>>Private message from Sabrina1: You got a cookie out of it, anyway :)
>>Wanna share? ;)
Sabrina smiled, wishing she knew a way to tell Chris it was the second time she'd smiled all night.
>>Private message from Chris: Still want to talk? I was getting worried when you didn't come back.
"'Worried' sounds much better than 'impatient', I think."
"Oooooo, where to start!" Sabrina began typing:
>>Well, my best friend's pregnant, her boyfriend was out of town on a class field trip, and she was missing him to the point that she was paranoid he wasn't going to come back
Chris read his screen. "I can see that."
>>Private message from Chris: OIC. But everything's okay now?
>>Well, he was supposed to call when he got back, and -- um -- he couldn't because I was online. But he came by and everything's okay now.
>>That's good. Sounds like you two need a second phone line :)
>>Private message from Sabrina1: Yeah, we'll have to call and get that done.
On two other ends of the Internet, Sabrina and Chris stared at their monitors.
>>Private message from Chris: So, what do you do when you're not keeping your roommate company and talking to new friends on the 'net?
Sabrina was amazed at how easily this conversation was flowing. Humor, sensitivity, waiting on-line ... how often does someone see that?
>>Well, during the day I'm a go-fer for a graphics company here in Ohio, and when I'm not doing that I'm going to school for my communications degree. I'm an art major with a minor in writing and a straight-C average
"Hmmm, bright girl, sure is fun to talk to." Chris probed further. "Any hobbies?"
>>Just IRC, and I like to attend computer shows. And I'm known for burying myself in computer magazines and romance novels. :) What about you?
>>Oh, I'm boring. Just hockey and computing. :)
Sabrina turned an ear toward the door. All was quiet. Muffled conversation between Thomas and Amy. And a new friend ... Sabrina was finally beginning to relax.
>>Private message from Sabrina1: You must do more than that! :)
>>Private message from ImaHusky1: Rehi from Wisconsin! :)
"Grrrrr!" Chris clicked on ImaHusky1 and typed /IGNORE, effectively squelching any further messages he decided to send. Chris was fixated with his conversation with Sabrina. A mental picture of her formed in his mind ... a very nice mental picture! It matched the smile on his face.
>>Private message from Chris: Well, in the real world I configure PC's and Local/Wide Area Networks for a communications company -- told you I was boring! ;)
The wink was a nice touch; Sabrina giggled. "I wouldn't be talking with you if I thought you were boring!" She typed this, then added a ;) of her own.
The next private message was different; a bad, two-dimensional graphic:
Bad, but to Sabrina, the right touch from someone she'd always hoped to find in a chat room, and at this time when she needed a friend most of all; he sent her a rose.
Sabrina gave him a kiss.
>>Thank you! :*
>>I could talk to you all night!
Chris thought for a moment, then decided on the most direct way to say what he wanted to say.
>>Me too! :)
"God, was that DUMB!"
>>I've got all night, how about you? :)
Sabrina relaxed in her chair, not even realizing she was laying back on her tail.