Margie got home late the night the towers fell. Obviously no one had gotten any work done during the day as her coworkers were glued to their TV's, group by group. The chatter for each group at the State Department of Health was distinctive depending on the room you were in. The older, Rule of 90 Hen Captains mentioned The Hand of God once or twice while watching it all unfold on the conference room bigscreen, the younger support staff immediately took to debate at the front desk computer, while those in the middle simply just shook their heads in twos or threes - remaining speechless, with a kind of despondency in their rolling eyes.
"What is the world coming to?" Margie mumbled.
Cliched and trite was all she could summon, but each word now seemed to be packed with meaning. At the time she had no fathomable idea what the meaning behind the fall of the twin towers really entailed - she believed everything the media and the government fed to her about Iraq, as did everyone - and continued moving steadily and quietly along in her own little bubble.
As Margie unlocked the door to her room, she silently cursed at having forgotten to call her daughter Emma before bedtime. She would surely be tucked in by now, and she wasn't in the mood to hear the disappointment in her ex-husband's voice. Their split had been amicable, but he was a good father to their daughter and his opinion still meant something to her, or she wouldn't have had his child. What a thought. What a choice.
That the human mating process was instinctual, almost primal, and certainly made sense in the science textbooks about evolution - but in society - well, it's a different story. Explaining away three abortions was not an easy task when pressed, and since no one could fathom, or believe the stories attached to those "life" partners, the explanations would merely be empty justifications.
She walked through the kitchen of the large multi-family co-op, she'd recently moved into, walked upstairs, and deposited her belongings on the tiny nightstand of her bedroom, shaking her head as she did so. "What woman thinks these things?" She's never met one, and something told her she wouldn't dare try.
Sitting at the computer was a ritual for Margie. Everything needed to be in order, her chores completed, cup of tea next to the keyboard, that remembered phone call to her kids at their respective homes - before she could allow herself the luxury of logging on - her full attention to the task at hand:
Margie wanted to get re-married. She wanted her life back. Her family back in one household, the way she’d always dreamed.
The Internet was on the verge of exploding in 2001, but online dating had yet to become the mainstream mode of introduction to single, available men. One would assume, then, that the men posting online dating ads at that time were savvy technologists: uploading pictures, completing snapshot biographies, filling out endless personality questionnaires and answering an onslaught of email. The Geekdom had been built, and if you were a smart, attractive girl like Margie, you could potentially land yourself a Geek God with only a few clicks into the World Wide Web.
By the late 90's, Margie had become adept at converting images and other texts, making sure external devices like cameras and scanners and printers could be connected to a computer, and then finding a compatible driver for each. She understood that the main hurdle in adapting to new technology, was in knowing where to find answers. Where were people discussing such problems and more importantly, where could you find solutions? Indeed, the secret to understanding technology was not in already "knowing" the information, but in knowing where to find it - and even then, trying and failing, and failing again, until something worked. It's kind of how Margie lived her life. Well, it's almost exactly how Margie lived her life. Not many people understood it - but she knew the Geeks would.
After several poses in several different locations and several lighting schemes, Marjorie finally chose the perfect profile picture - a straight on headshot, with natural light coming in from the front left, her best side, she supposed - and even though the smile didn't show her teeth, it seemed a fairly good representation of her personality - almost demure, with an elfin glint that might mean trouble to some. She posted it to a local dating site, paid the first month's dues, and began searching through images of all the single men on the site.
As she browsed, she came across a familiar profile, “Good4U” – the same profile she’d spotted several months earlier. As she opened his profile and began reading his story, the word “Improv” popped out at her. Margie’d gotten back into Improv training and performing since moving into the co-op, it was her touchstone – a way to get reconnected to people, and purge the always churning, always esoteric thoughts from her head into reality. In effect, performing grounded her to reality. Which when you think about it, seems to be the opposite of what one would think.
She immediately drafted an email and sent it to the man in the profile pic, anticipation burning in the pit of her stomach.
"So what happened?" Tori handed Margie a cup of tea and sat on the sofa next to her before stretching her long legs. It had been years since they had spoken, even before Tori's husband was alive and it had been going on five years now since his passing. Margie noticed a change in Tori. Far more feminine and cat-like. More concerned with clothing and style and manners than she'd ever known her to be; a far cry from the tom-boy of her high-school days. It suited her, although Margie thought to herself that she probably wouldn't have gone through the painful breast reduction just to "maintain her streamlined silhouette."
"You know…I'm not sure exactly. One minute we were friends and lovers, and the next… we weren't. As if some switch, flipped." It wasn't exactly the truth, but hoped that it would appease Tori. She wasn't exactly sure, but she felt as if Tori had more of a stake in this conversation than she let on.
"Our marriage…our life…seemed… Well, it seemed false. We were living in a bubble - filled with stuff, objects and distractions and no real connection. I felt like I was living my life from behind a two-way mirror - I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong, ever. From the very start. I loved him, but--"
"Well, that's what's most important, I think," Tori interrupted, "your intention. So you did love him?"
"Yes....I don't know. I loved what he represented…or what he presented, rather."
"What do you mean?" Margie was on high alert, as questions from Tori were a rarity.
Typically, Margie spent the duration of Tori's calls listening to her work through her own troubles - and Margie was happy to do it - making Tori's questions now seem, contrived.
"I mean, as long as he didn't deviate from the original facade of who I fell in love with, I loved him…I think though, once I scratched the surface-- I don't know… There were signs."
"Well, no one ever really knows their mates, do they? You can't know everything."
"I don't know, I think some things are just best left to mystery."
"Perhaps, but, there are also some things that shouldn't be. I mean, what if he turned out to be a serial killer, or secret agent, or I don't know… Something that affects you and your kids' lives. I have nightmares about being that woman on TV. That wife that never really knew her husband was kidnapping prostitutes or something…
Margie thought of the P.I. she'd hired early on in the relationship, and her "stake out" with a friend at a local BDSM club.
Margie could tell that Tori wanted nothing to do with the “real” reason her marriage went south – didn’t want to hear about the “signs.” That he constantly played on her psyche, showing her bits and pieces of his dark side, yet leaving her to her own consequences if she were to protest or investigate, never leaving around any proof.
Hey baby, you’re safe with me, are you curious about your sexuality? Sure, it’s okay if we watch the L-Word together. Curious about my cock ring? How about if we play “Spank Me” on the kitchen table. Curious about my other home addresses? Sorry, baby – you’re crazy and you should go see a psychiatrist. (Anyone that confused and kinky really should.)
Like the predator that lures a teenager into his car, holds her in captivity, then when questioned, explains his behavior as “well she’s the one that chose to get in my car.”
Animalistic traits – stalk or be stalked, kill or be killed and, well Hells Bells, if you insist on creating a society whose only function is to nurture and protect the weak, then you must also accept that you are simultaneously nurturing and protecting the predator.
It just didn't make sense.
"It just didn't make sense." She spoke aloud.
When Margie looked up, The Regents were staring, enthralled. She blushed at her rant before continuing.