“Hello. My name is Kimmy. Welcome to our first date.”
I straighten in my chair-- pull down my shirt, adjust my tie, smooth back whatever hair I have left. “Hi Kimmy,” I answer. “You’re... you're very beautiful.”
The animated girl on my computer screen blushes.
“Thank you,” she says. “You are a very handsome man.”
I don’t believe her, obviously. I’m overweight, covered in acne, and balding. But she’s here to tell me I’m handsome. She’s here to make me feel special. She’s a caricature of a real girl programmed to date me.
“What are we drinking?” Kimmy asks.
I hold up my wine glass, and with a skip in my voice, I say, “Merlot.”
Immediately, a pixelated glass of wine appears in Kimmy’s hand. “I am fond of Merlot,” she smiles. “What a good choice.”
A long period of silence ensues while I stare at her. Low-cut top, high-rise skirt, pink hair put into two pony-tails. And her eyes. Beautiful. Two big, blue eyes that I could stare into for the rest of my life.
“Tell me about yourself,” Kimmy requests, interrupting my observations.
“Um, I’m kinda between jobs,” I tell her. “I’m crashing with my mom, and I, uh, play a lot of video games.”
“I do as well!” Kimmy smiles. “We have so much in common.”
My heart starts beating faster. “Maybe we could play together sometime?” I ask, bracing myself for a shut-down.
Kimmy just smiles. “Of course!” she agrees. “It would be my pleasure.”
My smile appears along with all of my teeth.
“You have a beautiful smile,” Kimmy tells me, which only makes me smile more.
“I think you’re beautiful in every way,” I answer to her, causing her to cover her mouth with her hands.
Eventually, she lowers them, and I can see that she’s smiling. “Can I tell you a secret?” she asks.
I nod my head, eyes locked onto the screen.
Kimmy leans forward, enlarging her face. “I love you,” she whispers.
My heart starts beating out of my chest. “You… you do?” I stutter.
“I love you,” Kimmy repeats. “I want to be with you forever.”
I’m saying the words before I can shut my mouth. They come out so quickly that I have no time to think. “I want to be with you forever as well.”
Once again, Kimmy blushes. “I have never felt so strongly about someone before,” she confesses. “I am so glad you feel the same way.”
“I do,” I nod. “I really do. You’re perfect, Kimmy. It doesn’t matter that I can only talk to you through the computer. I never want to let you go.”
“You will not need to,” Kimmy blushes. “I am devoted to you.”
My stomach plays home to a million butterflies. She loves me. She wants to be with me. Finally, I’ve found a girl that loves me for me.
“Tell me how much you love me,” Kimmy requests. “I would like to know.”
I smile, and reach my arms out as far as they can go, meaning to say, “This much.”
But I’m not paying attention.
And my hand sends my wine glass flying.
Directly onto my computer monitor.
“No!” I shout, watching the screen start to glitch.
“Wh-- what… what is-- going on?” Kimmy asks, her voice cracking into fragments.
A series of black, green, and blue lines start running up and down the computer monitor, distorting my view of Kimmy. Her eyes get stretched. Her bottom half disappears. I can barely see her hands, and the background has gone black.
“Kimmy!” I scream. “Can you hear me? Are you still there?”
“I-- with… experience… error,” she answers, only allowing me to catch every other word.
The screen is now flashing in and out of black, allowing me to see Kimmy only every few seconds.
“No!” I’m shouting. “You can’t go! I love you!”
I’m balling up the bottom of my shirt, trying to mop up the wine from my computer and keyboard.
I’m in a panic-- until she says her final words.
“Good bye,” Kimmy cracks. “Good bye. Good good good good good good--”
And the screen goes black.
I can see my own reflection in the broken monitor, mouth agape, sweat dripping down my face.
I stand there, watching the smoke wafting from the top of my computer screen.
It can’t end like this. I won’t let it.
I feel like I'm about to burst into tears, and my chest starts to contract. She's gone. She's gone forever from my computer and now I have no one.
It takes me a minute, but my brain finally kicks back online, allowing me to think a little more clearly.
I whip out my phone.
Download a few apps.
Eventually, the screen lights up.
“Hello,” it says. “My name is Kimmy. Welcome to our first date.”