While Lucy’s still in Kenya, reeling from the collapse of her romance with Brad, let me fill you in on something else that’s been bubbling away behind the scenes.
Long-time readers of these adventures may remember the story of Lucy’s brief but intense text-relationship with Ben, a guy from Twitter who won her over with his kindness and humour despite her resolution never to meet up with any more men from the site.
If you don’t remember this, you might want to catch up here.
Lucy was hurt when, after all the flirting and requests for a date, Ben rudely went and bloody got together with someone else before she got a chance to meet him in person. But what could she do? They’d never met, so he was free to do what he liked, and in spite of the fact they seemed to have an incredible connection over phone and text, there was always the chance they might not have fancied each other IRL anyway. So she got over it, and instead of meeting and falling madly in love Lucy and Ben became online friends. Good friends. Really fucking weirdly intensely good online friends…
Weird Twitter Penpals
Over the course of the next six months their friendship grows. They go from messaging a few times a week to every day, and then many times a day. They start chatting about life, the universe, and everything.
Ben shares when things aren’t going so well with the new girlfriend.
Lucy tells Ben all the gory details of her sex life with Josh, the Geography Teacher.
He reveals how he still has sad thoughts about his ex.
He holds her hand (virtually) through the move to Kenya…
… is right there with her every step of the way when she falls head over heels for Brad, the Australian.
… and supports her unconditionally when that all falls apart.
Ben becomes her confidante and best friend, the first person she speaks to in the morning and the last one she says goodnight to at the end of every day.
He pays her compliments…
And sometimes even gets a little bit suggestive.
But she bats his suggestive comments away because they’ve never even met, and because he has a girlfriend.
She tells him things that she doesn’t share with another living soul…
…he’s there to back her up through all the highs and lows of life…
… and they become so close that he knows what she’s going to say before she even thinks it.
Lucy doesn’t know how she ever managed without him in her life.
Every so often they talk about meeting up when Lucy gets back from Kenya. But she’s always hesitant. She fears that this perfect thing will turn sour once they meet for real, and she doesn’t want to risk losing what has become one of the most important relationships in her life.
And anyway, Ben has a girlfriend now, so what’s the point? If they are going to be just friends, then they can just continue to be Weird Twitter Penpals with all of the benefits and none of the risks.
And so they continue this intense online friendship, sharing everything, being the best of friends, being each other’s go-to person, for six months. Until Ben finally ends things with the girlfriend, and everything suddenly changes.
The Phone Call
Lucy takes the news of the breakup, calmly, in her stride. She could see it coming from way back: the way he talked about the girlfriend, the problems they were having… the relationship just didn’t seem sustainable. But when it happens, it doesn’t immediately occur to her that now might be her opportunity to leap into the vacancy. For one thing, she’s in Africa. And for another, she and Ben have become friends now. She’s not sure she wants to risk losing that.
Until one day, when Ben and Lucy are discussing her blog. Ben tells her he doesn’t actually read her posts all that often, as most of them are very long and take considerable time commitment to sit down and consume.
As a joke, Lucy suggests she could record a few as audiobooks for Ben to listen to in the car when he’s driving to work.
They haven’t heard each other’s voices since they spoke on the phone several months ago, but Lucy’s feeling brave. She grabs her phone and reads the first paragraph of her most recent post into a voice note, in the best Jackanory narrator style she can muster.
Ben is delighted.
But Lucy has no intention of recording the entire blog post into a voice note for him. By ‘hear more’ she doesn’t mean hear more of the story. She means hear more of her voice. She’s decided she’s had enough of all the back and forth on Whatsapp, and she’s feeling brave. She wants to talk in person again.
So when he says yes please she takes it as her cue to pick up the phone and hit ‘dial’.
But even though he had his phone in his hand just seconds ago, it rings and rings, and he doesn’t answer.
Lucy feels deflated.
Ben is too cute sometimes, but sometimes she wishes he would just man the fuck up.
Now would be his opportunity to repair the damage, but he doesn’t take it. He’s too worried about his landlady overhearing the conversation. So the best Lucy gets is the promise of an actual phonecall at some unspecified time in the future.
NEXT TIME: Things between Lucy and Ben escalate. and the budding romance comes under threat. Click here to read on.