.:y o u ' v e . g o t . m a i l:.
Kristen frowned in frustration, pecking away furiously at her computer. She paused briefly to glance at the time on her watch. 2:25 a.m. Emitting a small, tired sigh, Kristen continued to type diligently.
Her "Hamlet" essay was due in exactly five hours, and with college creeping closer, she couldn't afford anything less than an 'A.'
Signing on to her AOL account, Kristen cringed as she ignored the mechanical voice ringing, "You've got mail!"
As if the computer really cares if I have mail or not… She thought to herself, rolling her eyes as she surfed to sparknotes.com, in search of "Hamlet" critiques.
She continued tapping frantically at her keyboard, when a loud ring startled her, interrupting her quickly progressing work.
"Ohmigosh!" Kristen screamed, jumping two inches out of her chair. An Instant Message box popped onto the computer screen. Placing a hand over her heart, still scared to death, Kristen breathed. "Get a grip." She told herself.
"Tim82N10?" She read, aloud. "I don't know a Tim…" She frowned, biting her lip.
"Do I know you?" Kristen typed in.
"No." The mysterious character replied. "I just thought I might IM you. You seem like a pretty interesting person, according to that profile of yours. So you like San Jose Earthquakes, huh?"
"How'd you figure that out?" Kristen responded.
"Uh… Your screen name kind of gave it away, 'iLvLanDonovan."
Laughing to herself, Kristen typed, "Well, I just never thought a guy would know that, Tim." Kristen smiled, amused at the thought.
"Hey…" The stranger defended himself. "My sister's into San Jose Earthquakes, okay? She forced me to memorize all the guys' names."
"LOL." Kristen typed. "I did the same thing to my brother! I forced him to memorize all the guys' names, birthdays, and favorite colors. He hated me after that!"
"Haha." Tim laughed. "Anyway… So what's your name?"
"Should I give you my real name? Or an alias?" Kristen teased.
"The real thing."
"My name's Kristen."
"Hi Kristen! I'm pleased to meet you."
"Well, I'm pleased to meet you too, Tim." Kristen smiled to herself. This mysterious stranger seemed incredibly sweet. "So what are you doing up so late?" She typed.
After a long pause, Tim responded, "I'm just nocturnal, I guess. How about you?"
"Actually, I'm up doing an English essay on Hamlet… Not fun." Kristen groaned.
"Wow. What time is it where you live?"
Kristen glanced at her watch. "It's 4 a.m. in Houston, TX. Where are you?"
Another long pause. "I'm all over the place… right now I'm in Houston too. But originally, I'm from California."
"Whoa! Houston…? So close, yet so far apart."
"Hey, look…" Kristen typed, again biting her lip. "I hate to break this up, but I really need to finish my English essay."
"Sure! No problem!" Tim replied.
"It was nice chatting with you." Kristen said, politely.
"What do you mean by that?" Tim typed. "How about a nice 'I'll talk to you later'?"
"LOL." Kristen laughed. "Okay. I'll talk to you later!"
"That's more like it!"
"Bye now!" Kristen responded, closing the IM box.
Kristen resumed work on her English essay, until another ring startled her ten minutes later. The familiar IM box appeared.
Tim82N10: "Did you think I'd let you off the hook that easy?"
iLvLanDonovan: "Tim! I need to work on my essay!!!"
Tim laughed. "LOL. Well, you can work on it and talk to me at the same time. I'll keep you company. All-nighters are boring."
"Well, I have to agree with you on that one." Kristen smiled to herself. "Thanks Tim."
The alarm clock situated on Kristen's desk sounded at exactly 7 a.m.
"Ohmigosh!" Kristen screamed to herself. She had been eagerly talking to Tim for hours, about random things ranging from maple bar donuts to their passion for soccer, unaware of the time that had passed. The remainder of her English essay was still unfinished.
"Tim!" She typed, frantically. "I've gotta go! School starts in half an hour!"
Chuckling, Tim typed in his response. "Okay. I'll talk to you later!"
With a quick flick of the switch, Kristen shut off the computer and threw her clothes on hurriedly. All the thoughts of Tim that were beginning to creep into her imagination would just have to wait. For now, she just needed to get to first period on time.
"A 'C'??" Kristen cried, staring at her graded essay in disbelief.
"Get a grip,." Her friend, Sarah, responded from across the cafeteria table. "What did you expect? It was totally unfinished. What was up with that, anyway? You're usually such a perfectionist."
"A 'C'??" Kristen simply repeated. "I've never gotten a 'C' in my life."
Sighing, Sarah replied. "I rest my case. You need a life, girl. While all the other normal people have senioritis, you're still getting 'A's." She placed her hand on Kristen's forehead for emphasis, mockingly searching for a high temperature. "Are you okay??"
Kristen groaned, pushing her hand away. "Well…" She paused. "I did meet a cool guy online… I guess that was well worth a 'C'." Kristen unconsciously emitted a dreamy smile.
"Online??" Sarah raised her eyebrows. "You're pretty enough to snatch any guy here, why go online?"
At that precise moment, milk shot through the air. All eyes turned toward Jose, the varsity soccer captain, who had straws stuck up his nose. He smiled a wide, goofy grin as Sarah turned to stare, open-mouthed.
Sarah turned back to Kristen, resting her elbows on the table. "Okay, never mind. I take that back. All the guys at this school are goons. So… tell me about this guy you met…"
Grinning, Kristen defended herself. "Hey! I didn't say I was interested in him or anything! He's just a really sweet guy… I'm not the type of person to get with someone I met online." Kristen shook her head in emphasis. "Nuh-uh. That's not me. People can be so fake online… They have secrets, and there's no way I can even be sure that he's even for real."
Still smiling, Sarah replied, "Yeah. Uh huh, I'm sure you're not interested." She said, sarcastically.
Kristen's eyes widened as she picked up a dinner roll from her styrofoam tray and flung it toward her friend. "I'm not!!!"
Dodging the roll, Sarah leaned in closer, casually resuming conversation. "How old is he?"
Her eyebrows rose higher, as her eyes twinkled. "Where's he located?"
"Right now? Houston."
"What do you mean, 'right now'?"
"I don't know. He didn't say. But he's in here for a while, anyway."
"Oh." Sarah grinned. "A twenty-year-old guy in Houston, who is incredibly sweet. Sounds too good to be true." A baby carrot soared past her ear.
"I don't like him!!!" Kristen squealed, trying to hide her smile.
"Uh huh," Sarah repeated sarcastically. "I'm sure."
Flinging her backpack to the floor, Kristen propped herself in front of her computer. The artificial computer voice again greeted her with a friendly, "You've got mail!" Kristen smiled to herself. Oh, do I…? Clicking open her mailbox, she spotted an e-mail from Tim82N10.
"Score!" She murmured to herself, opening the message.
I had fun talking to you last night… The letter read. Kristen tried hard not to squeal in excitement. I really would like to talk to you again sometime… And I'm hoping it's sometime soon. If you want, you can meet me online at 4pm. Don't feel pressured or anything… This is just a casual invitation. I'm looking forward to chatting with you again. Talk to you later! -Tim
Rereading the letter, Kristen grinned to herself. No way! She thought to herself. The guy wants to talk to me again!!! How good can this get?? She danced in her chair.
"Oh no." She paused, talking to herself. "What time is it?" Kristen glanced at her watch, which turned to 4pm at precisely that second. After the familiar ring, the IM box appeared.
"Hi Tim!" Kristen typed, excitedly.
"I'm glad you decided to come."
"No problem! I had fun last night."
"Me too. How was your English essay?"
"I was just about to bring that up. I got a 'C'!!! It's all your fault! I talked to you all night… I didn't get a chance to finish my essay. Why do you have to be such a cool person?"
"LOL." Tim typed. "Well… I'm sorry you got a 'C', if that's any comfort."
Kristen laughed aloud to herself. "I guess it'll do."
"Hey." Kristen suddenly remembered. "I remember you saying that you're in Houston for right now… What did you mean by 'for right now'?"
"Well…" Tim typed. "Let's just say I move around a lot."
"Care to elaborate?"
"Okaaaay…" Kristen furrowed her brows in confusion.
"Let's just say, I only have a few more days in here."
There was a long pause between the two.
"Are you alright?" Tim asked.
"Yeah. I'm fine. I guess I need to keep reminding myself that people I meet online have their secrets, too."
"I'm sorry. Really. It's just that I can't…" Tim paused, changing the subject. "So, are you going to the soccer game this Thursday, USA vs. Mexico?"
Ignoring the sudden shift in conversation topics, Kristen typed, "Yeah! Of course! Second row! I wouldn't miss it for the world. Are you going? Taking your sister along, maybe?" Kristen smiled.
"Actually, I am."
"Don't you wanna ask me if I want to meet you there?" Tim asked.
"First of all, because I'm not entirely sure that you're not a stalker, and two, because people are a lot different online." Kristen answered.
Kristen paused, breathing deeply. She contemplated on what she was to type next. "To tell you the truth… You're an awesome guy. In fact, you're too awesome. I don't want to ruin the picture-perfect image I have of you right now… It wouldn't be fair-to you, or to me."
"Sorry. I guess I'm just paranoid."
"No, you're not." Tim argued. "I guess I see your point. You're a little too perfect for me, too."
"No way!" Kristen grinned to herself.
"Really! If I've had met a girl in my lifetime, who had half the personality you have… I'd have married her by now." Kristen's fingers froze.
"Or at least… I would have proposed to her by now," Tim added. "I'm just kind of waiting for a Cindy Crawford/Mother Teresa to walk into my life."
"LOL." Kristen typed, a little uncomfortably.
"So… Who would be your perfect guy?"
"Um." Kristen typed. "Probably Landon Donovan… From San Jose Earthquakes."
"Haha." Tim responded. "I should have figured. Is it just cause he looks good??"
"Actually, it's not. I mean…. You would think so. But it's not!"
"Then what is it?"
"I don't know. His passion for soccer, for one thing." Kristen smiled, just thinking about him. "He's so in love with it. It seems like he's always so sure of things. He has an incredible amount of trust. He knows exactly where he wants to be, and what he wants to do. He's such an easy-going guy… And that's exactly what I need. I'm a total worrywart. When I think about what I'll be doing in a few years, I shudder. I'm so afraid that I'll never meet the right guy. For a while, I actually believed that I was going to marry Landon Donovan. Can you imagine that?"
"LOL." Tim replied.
"Yeah. Far-fetched, I know. But I actually thought that God was telling me, 'you're going to marry him.' It was dumb, but it made me feel so secure. It seemed like I had nothing to worry about, because everything was in God's hands. It was only a couple months ago that I realized how stupid I was being. I mean… Landon Donovan?? Landon Donovan doesn't even know that Kristen Salynger exists! He's too perfect for me, anyway. I'm sitting here, worrying about my non-existent perfect man, while he's probably out there somewhere, playing soccer in front of a crowd. He has nothing to worry about! He can get any girl he wants, because he's everything a girl could ever want."
"I'm sure that's not true." Tim argued. "He can't be perfect. I'm sure he has doubts too. Right now, he's probably wondering if the perfect girl is out there for him. And who knows." Tim typed, "Maybe you're that perfect girl."
"LOL." Kristen typed. "Don't I wish."
"You never know."
"Kristen!" Her mother called. "It's time for dinner!"
"Tim, I've got to go."
"Okay. I'll talk to you later."
"About Thursday… I'll be wearing a blue shirt."
"But there's a million girls with blue shirts!"
Kristen smiled. "Well, that'll make your job just a little bit harder, won't it?" She signed off, without giving Tim the chance to respond.
Kristen leaned forward in her seat, surrounded by screaming teenage girls. She would have been one of those screaming girls, had it been any other day. Today, however, she simply sat in her seat, fascinated by the curly-locks who seemed too good to be true.
As Landon runned across the field, he pointed in Kristen's direction, sending the girls beside her into a fit of screams. She locked gazes with him for a split second. Did Landon Donovan just look at me? Kristen asked herself.
"Ohmigoodness!" A girl sitting next to her squealed. "Landon Donovan just looked at me!!!" She screamed wildly.
Kristen, you're an idiot. She reasoned, shifting her eyes toward the floor, ashamed of herself. That's what every girl wants to believe. When she looked up again, Landon's eyes were still staring fixedly in Kristen's direction. She felt herself melting. Get a grip, Kristen…
After several minutes, the game was halted for halftime. Kristen immediately stood up to look for a bathroom. She exited through the back door, and soon found herself lost and alone in an empty hallway.
"Kristen Salynger?" A male voice rang clearly behind her.
Kristen whirled around at the sound of her name. "That's me…" She began, until her eyes met the same eyes she had seen out in the field.
"L-L-Landon Donovan??" Kristen found herself stuttering. "How did you know my n-"
"Let me reintroduce myself."
Kristen held a blank expression as she allowed Landon to continue.
He jutted out his hand. "I'm Tim."
"You're Tim82N10???" Kristen breathed, still skeptical.
"In the flesh." Landon grinned his trademark grin, as Kristen tried hard not to scream.
"Ohmigosh!" Kristen folded her arms, pacing back and forth. "I acted like such an idiot to you!" She frowned. "In fact… I acted like myself." She paused, without giving him the chance to respond to her outburst. "Do you mean to tell me that I've been pouring my heart and soul to Landon Donovan, the professional soccer player?? I can't believe I even-"
Landon interrupted her, running a hand through his hair, nervously. "Look, Kristen. Don't say that. I'm just a fellow human."
"I know that, but…"
"No buts." Landon interrupted her for the second time. "Yes, you've been 'pouring out your heart and soul to Landon Donovan, the professional soccer player.' But Landon Donovan, the professional soccer player is human too… and I think Landon Donovan is falling for a certain Kristen Salynger." Landon smiled at her.
Kristen returned the smile, calmer now. "Do you mean that?"
Landon nodded. "I do." He paused, running his hand through his hair for the second time. "After all those conversations with you… I was almost positive that I had met the girl of dreams. Now that I've met you… Well… I can't say that I don't believe it." Landon held her gaze, firmly.
Kristen shook her head, and frowned. "I shouldn't be here, Landon. I'm sorry… But I need to go. I'm not the girl of your dreams… I don't deserve you."
Looking down at her feet, Kristen hurried away. Landon was quick to run after her. Scooping her hand into his own, he jogged along beside her, hand-in-hand.
"What are you doing?" Kristen asked, with reddened eyes brimmed with tears. She was still running, now with Landon alongside her.
"I can't let you go."
Kristen stopped, wiping a tear from her cheek. "Don't you get it? I don't deserve you! You deserve so much better than I have, Landon. You deserve someone prettier, someone better… I'm not the one for you. Get that into your head! Does cute-ness affect intellect or something??"
"Ouch." Landon laughed, still jogging beside her.
Kristen frowned. "You're missing my point, Landon!" She whined.
" Kristen, Kristen, Kristen …" He scolded, with mock exasperation. Grabbing both her shoulders and forcing her eyes to meet his, he continued. "You knew Tim before you knew me… And Tim is who I am. You didn't see my looks… You didn't see the glamour of being a professional athlete. You saw me. You saw me for who I am… You saw my heart. And now all I am asking is that you would just give me a chance." He loosened his firm grip on her shoulders, as he felt her relax. "I admit… I'm not the picture-perfect guy everyone pretends I am. I don't have the perfect faith. I still have struggles, too. There are so many times I ask God, 'Where is she? Where's my other half?' All I'm asking is that you would give me a chance. I want to be your friend. I want to find out if you're that other half of me."
"But you're so busy… There's no way we could ever find the time to-"
Landon put a hand to her lips. "I would wait forever for you."
Kristen looked down at her feet again, trying to take in his words. Suddenly, she remembered her earlier conversation with 'Tim.' "Could I ask you something, Landon?"
"Anything at all."
"How did you find me?" She paused to meet his eyes. "I'm wearing red."
Landon simply smiled.
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