It was her face.
It was the sort of face you see in a glossy magazine, not on a dating site.
“Hi Liz, Did you ever see Braveheart?” I clicked SEND and held my breath.
“Of course! I live in Scotland!”
I really like this girl, I laughed. Later that night I shared her photo with my best friend, Scott.
“What do you think, mate?”
Scott studied the image and shook his head slowly.
“I’d be very careful,” he said. “The internet’s full of axe murderers, you know.” Scott knew about these things. “Whatever you do don’t give her your real name.”
The next morning I opened my message box.
“Hello AussieGuy. I’ve always wanted to see an Australian sunset. Liz_Edinburgh”
For the next several minutes I typed furiously as I described the open sky over Lake Pedder. I shared the thrill of watching a trout dance on the water and the battle to bring it to shore. Finally, I described the Milky Way on a clear winter’s night.
When I finished I hesitated before signing off. William sounded mature, I decided. After all, it was my grandfather’s name.
The next day I opened my message box.
“William, What a great letter. You know us Scotts invented fly fishing. It’s true!!! What do you think of my latest security photo? Liz”
“Dear Liz, You are gorgeous!!!” I replied without thinking.
That night I showed Scott the picture.
“What do you think, Mate?” I asked expecting to hear a twinge of jealousy.
Mate, you’re punching above your weight.”
My correspondence with Liz soon became part of the ebb and flow of daily life.
One day I wrote, “Liz, Can I call you sometime? William.”
The next day I opened my message box to find it empty.
“Oh no!” I said banging my head against the monitor.
“What’s the matter, Daddy?” My seventeen year old daughter asked looking over my shoulder.
“I think I frightened Liz away,” I cried.
Rachel put her arms around me and squeezed hard. “Don’t worry, Daddy. I’ll look after you.”
The morning passed under a cloud of gloom. How could this have happened? Suddenly the screen registered a new message.
“Dear William, Call me at 10pm your time. Love, Liz PS Big storm knocked out the phone lines.
“Oh dear,” I muttered. “Why did I call myself William?” Anyway, what were my chances?
When 10 o’clock finally arrived I picked up the phone and started dialing. As I punched the last number I took a deep breath and waited.
“Is that William?”
“Oh my goodness,” I blurted. “You even sound beautiful.”
From ten thousand miles away the sound of her laughter filled my heart with joy. An hour later I looked up and realized that our time was up.
“Can I call you again?” I asked a little too eagerly.
“That would be nice.”
This would be a good time to give her your real name, I realized.
“How about Sunday night?” I offered.
“I’ll be here,” she promised.
As I hung up the phone I suddenly felt light headed. The front door led to a neglected garden overgrown with weeds. Above my head the stars seemed to smile down from the heavens.
In the distance I could hear my phone ringing.
My daughter answered it.
“I’m sorry lady,” she sounded annoyed. “There’s no one called William at this address.”
As I rushed through the kitchen I could hear the conversation growing strident.
“Yes, I’m Rachel. Yes, I own a horse.” Suddenly she held out the phone to me. “Daddy, have you been lying to this Scottish woman?”
Slowly I put the phone to my ear.
“Hello?” My voice sounded pathetic.
“Well have you?”
A sickening feeling of dread closed its hand around my heart.
“Before I answer that question you’ve got to promise me one thing?” I asked.
“Well?” She was obviously upset.
“You’ve got to promise me you’re not an axe murderer.”
“Why would you ask a question like that?” She was still annoyed.
“I saw Braveheart three times.”
There was a brief silence and then she laughed.
“OK. What’s your real name?” she asked.
“It’s Geoffrey,” I answered.
“OK Geoffrey,” she sounded happy again. “Call me Saturday. It’s Mum’s birthday Sunday.”
“It’s a date,” I replied wondering what a ticket to Scotland cost.
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