This is the story of an empty inbox.
This is a story about going home.
It’s all stored up in her memories somewhere; neatly filed and marked for easy access, there was a time when those emails and chats were pulled up and reread every single day.
Nowadays, most contacts have been directed elsewhere and Gmail sometimes wonders if those days filled with chatter and love were only a dream.
Still, Gmail sees the girl every single day; she would stare at the empty inbox as if an email would appear just by her willing it to, before sighing and creating a new draft.
The girl writes endlessly. Writes as if her life depends on it.
Night and day, Gmail is the girl’s constant companion.
They have a strange bond; Gmail and the girl, mailman and sender.
A story comes to mind, of a young maiden waiting all night long for her lover’s return.
Perhaps only the lantern that accompanies the heroine would understand what Gmail feels.
The girl is always on the move.
Always going somewhere, Gmail finds, if not in body then in mind.
Always doing something.
Even at work, she would be constantly shuffling back and forth.
From the printer to the phone and the patients to the paperwork…
Gmail blinks orange in the background, as if in encouragement.
At times her boss would tell her to sit down.
Take a break and relax.
The girl would smile, sadly.
Back and forth, back and forth.
During break, the window tab switches from the insurance clearinghouse to a half-written, half-deleted email.
In a tiny corner of the computer screen, Gmail sees it all.
Perhaps she is chasing something, Gmail thinks.
She keeps going and going.
Yet Gmail would not possibly know that the girl is slowest to move on out of all her friends.
Slowest, and never would move on.
Could not know that it took her three months to stop crying once the computer is off at night.
Five months before her first true smile.
A year and a half, to accept a future with her and Gmail alone.
Gmail would see her always with friends.
A heartbeat behind, a few steps ahead.
On a skateboard. At a track field. Inside a basketball court. Chopping onions in the kitchen.
"Wow, you’re always so full of purpose. You’ll be better than me at this before long."
The girl is so slow yet so quick.
But for all the energy spent, the girl travels in a circle, always coming back to where she started.
The girl would smile, and Gmail would wonder why it feels like heartbreak.
And then there are days when darkness overtakes them both.
Gmail would hate this most of all.
The girl would lay on bed with so many wires attached, too weak to type.
The people come in at random.
Often, there is no one at all; the girl would refuse to call anyone, alert anyone.
Time would trickle by that way until the girl can move forward again.
In those moments Gmail would feel most helpless.
Is the girl chasing, or running away?
She smiles, and pushes herself to stand.
The world has been depicted through rose-colored glass, Gmail suddenly understands.
She’s riding a bike. She’s sailing. She learns. She gets raises. She befriends. She loves.
But where is she aiming for, where is she going?
Gmail longs to feel the wind dancing in her hair. Yearns to see the color she has mentioned in her emails.
Wants to touch her successes. Taste the sweetness of the food she has tried and know the people she was with-
And the mountains she had climbed, the things she had bought, the lives she had touched, the kids she had taught, the friends she had made, the loyalties she had never broken, the life she had lead-
Sometimes Gmail wonders if it would be best to just tell the person at the receiving end of these emails.
The girl thinks of it often. To just say it all out: of the sweat and the tears and the times she has bled.
Easy enough, to just send. Just ask for one more time and one more chance.
One minute on one night, a final word for a final date in those last moments. After all she had given…is it too much to ask?
Be with her till the end, please. Lie to her if you have to.
A last purpose for Gmail. The girl at her computer would type and type away-
The chat would be full like it once was, and laughing is something common.
The girl ponders but doesn’t say. Her life runs on that way.
In the twinkle of the stars is everlasting gentleness.
On a bed in a darkened room, Gmail waits for the girl to walk back.
There are so many stories left untold.
The depth of her love would never be understood. Her heart is thrown away; she chases.
In the end, every day, Gmail waits for a new story.
A new email, and words the girl continues to write.
They are all left unopened.
Never realizing it, the person at the other end smiles happily.
It is enough for the girl, and eventually Gmail understands.
The girl doesn’t need pity. Doesn’t need lies nor cruel truths.
The girl truly sees, yet chooses to believe in only what she chooses to see.
She’s running away and chasing a dream.
There’s a sense of nobility and magic in all of this, Gmail realizes. A love that does not end.
A strange type of beauty in never stopping in loving a love that one has loved enough to set free.
Eventually a day would come where darkness is too great. The girl would not be there to log on. The account will die through inactivity.
All of a sudden it hits, and Gmail sees it all where the girl truly belongs.
A voice from long ago…
The girl on her cellphone, walking upstairs to a University apartment.
Hubbish. Ne, Hubby, I’m home.
There are moments when, in the haze of nervous emotions, I suddenly find certain things that appear to me with much more clarity than the rest.
I don’t recall the brightness of the lights. Don’t recognize any machines within the room. I wouldn’t be able to identify the halls if I’d walked through the place again.
That time the only thing I remembered was a pale purple gown; the one I was given.
It hung on me loosely, two flaps from the back folding over to the front and then woven around behind me once more before tying up into a bow- which was no doubt the only thing keeping it from sliding off altogether.
I remembered thinking, Gosh a dozen of me can fit into this, but the nurse beside me smiled as if everything was meant to be that it washed away any desire to ask for a smaller size or a different color.
She sat me down onto the bed and attached a tube through the hole on my chest. As the garment ballooned and warm air circulated around me, I realized the bagginess was meant to allow for this expansion.
I poked at the stretched-out cloth.
The gown continued swell, and I felt oddly large.
Oddly chubby, bigger than how I am.
As I closed my eyes to rest, I thought the bed to be too crowded and small.
Have you ever heard someone complain about sitting beside a fat person on a plane?
I’ve never had a problem with it, I guess, because I’m always so small that I still have plenty of room even when a neighbor takes away a few inches of my seat.
Or maybe because sitting beside a large person brings up good memories of a flight from years and years ago.
On a plane flying from Dallas, with Minneapolis being my final destination, my neighbor was a round elderly man who my mind fondly named as Santa because I forgot to ask for his real name.
It was my first time traveling alone. And usually, being by myself would make me feel more guarded towards anyone I don’t recognize.
But it was also my first time traveling to my beloved.
Closer. Closer we would get.
As the plane took to the skies my heart was soaring. Every stranger felt like a friend. Mr. Santa became my dearest most special friend at the time, on that flight, so happy was I to share my bliss.
Hours flew by in seconds.
I learned that our destination was his home, and he was eager to tell me about the beautiful attractions the city possessed once he learned it would be my first time visiting.
"Are you just seeing the sights? Touring the states?"
I had only smiled, before he proceeded to tell me about the rivers and lakes.
My heart wanted to scream to the world, to tell him, I’m visiting my girlfriend! My girlfriend…My One.
The city would be beautiful, I bet. The world is wonderful.
I want to share this with you. I wish you’d laugh and join in my happiness.
Because life is such a joyous thing. Each step I take is a hundred miles the plane is carrying me, closer to her.
If I leave that city, not having seen any sights at all, it would still be the most magical place to me because it is where my beloved would be.
I will never forget my emotions on that day, of that friend and stranger I who will never meet again.
A needle prickling into my right arm brings me back down on earth. The machine blowing air into the purple dress hums into my ears.
Mixed emotions tear through me.
I do not cry.
Ne, have you ever felt like you should be somewhere else, doing something else with the person you want to be with?
I feel like that all the time.
All the time.