Even Gods need a little Balancebyzouzouni©
Hello all, this is my entry in the Summer Lovin' Story Contest. I hope you like it and please vote. I'd like to thank WorldHistoryBuff for a fantastic editing job and the Guild for their support.
This story is dedicated to apollona - for the inspiration.
Anastasia sighed as she saved the final draft and backed it up. Another story done and hopefully those characters would stay silent in her head. 'Fat chance' she thought. Even if those stayed quiet there were always others that were more than eager to take their place. Her writing had started off as a hobby, a way to pass the time, and had developed into something of an obsession. She thought about plot and character development during most of her spare time.
To be fair she was actually pretty good at it even though it wasn't her day job. Several stories were already published on a popular website and had received a very good response. The feedback was positive enough to make her want to continue and improve. It often gave her a warm happy feeling that others were enjoying her stories.
The rain was pelting down on her window making her shiver with even the perception of cold. It wasn't the rain she minded so much it was the cold winter. She detested the season with an unashamed fierceness. She longed for summer, wished for it, even dreamed about it. Not just the beach and the fun it contained but the heat, anything and everything that was anti-cold.
Stretching out the kinks in her back from sitting in front of the computer too long she decided to check her email before bed. There was several junk ones that she trashed immediately and a couple from friends and relatives that she decided to leave until tomorrow. One caught her eye; it was a feedback email from the website where she posted her stories. She'd come to realize that some people didn't like to comment publically, they preferred to send her a private note with their thoughts on her work.
As she opened it her heart beat a little faster, a small thrill rushing through her as she waited to see what the reader thought.
"Hi, I really liked your story. Terribly romantic and a wonderful read. Please continue to write, I am enjoying your work. P.S I love the name by the way. Ares."
Ana smiled, it never failed to make her happy reading positive feedback. The P.S. confused her though. Without contemplation she quickly whipped off an email in response since they had kindly provided a return email address.
"Dear Ares, Thank you so much for your kind words they are much appreciated. I'm a little confused though. When you said you liked the name did you mean the name of the story or my pen-name? Just wondering. Regards, Isorropia -- AKA Anastasia"
She hit the send button and went to bed still wondering what on earth he meant, it was a he wasn't it? You could never tell with these things. She was always very careful with details she gave on the internet having been warned by other well meaning authors that had been doing it a lot longer than she had. This was a separate email account used only for her stories and related communications.
Aware of the time zones, Ana always checked her email again in the morning to see if there was any feedback left from around the globe. There flashing in her inbox was a reply from Ares.
"Anastasia, It seems that I'm destined to like any name you choose. I intended your pen name but it seems your actual name is one of my favourites. Did you choose Isorropia deliberately? Are you aware of its meaning? Yours, Ares -- AKA Ari"
Ana chucked to herself as she re-read the email. 'This guy is some piece of work' she thought to herself as she penned a reply affirming that she indeed knew the meaning of her pen-name due to her own Greek heritage. It amused her that someone else had picked up on it.
Curiosity got the better of her as she looked up Ares on the website to discover that he too had written a couple of stories. Resolving to read them at the earliest opportunity she quickly got ready and headed to work.
During the day the emails back and forth between them took on a life of their own. It astounded Ana how much in common she actually had with Ari. In one of her wittier commentaries she described it as living parallel lives. She had never corresponded with anyone like this before and she found it refreshing to attempt to explain things with the written word as opposed to relying on tone of voice and other non verbal cues. Email was a much more challenging medium but it also afforded a certain level of anonymity that she appreciated.
Over time Ana and Ari exchanged hundreds of emails, learning all there was to know about each other. It began with talking about writing, exchanging story ideas and even helping each other out with editing. Eventually they started sharing all manner of other things, past adventures at high school and how they ended up in their respective jobs. She heard all about his family, their ups and downs. He learned all about her wacky work colleagues and their bizarre love lives. They whinged about their parents, growing up in overbearing but loving Greek households and all the craziness that entailed and all manner of other things. They laughed over friend's antics and celebrated each other's successes.
After a few months Ana started to think of Ari as her best friend. It was an odd thing indeed to value someone so that you've never met or even talked to. And still every time something happened in her life she couldn't wait to share it with him and read his often hilarious response.
Months later Ari was sitting at his computer lazily going through his email when a new one entered his inbox. 'Ana' he thought. He adored getting her emails; they were so witty and filled with an energy he couldn't believe. Slowly he read through the words on the screen becoming angrier by the moment.
"That bastard!! I'll kill him!!" he yelled his face red from the tension.
"Woah Ari, what's up?" said a shocked Chris from the couch, his brother's yell giving him a scare in the quiet of their living room.
"It's Ana. That creep she's been seeing is cheating on her," Ari explained as he angled the screen for Chris to read the email.
Chris was shocked. Ari had spoken so often about Ana over the last few months that he felt like he knew her, like she was part of the family. He cringed as he read the words that must have been painful to write.
"So it's not bad enough I catch him with his cock down some slut's throat and he tells me it's been going on for months. My mum has to weigh in and start with the 'He comes from such a good family, it's just a little misunderstanding, don't ruin your prospects, what is everyone going to say....' and all that bullshit. I nearly hit her ..."
"Oh my, the poor thing, shouldn't you call her or something?" Chris offered.
Ari looked at his brother dumbfounded. In all this time they had never actually spoken, he didn't even have her number and now when she needed him, he wasn't able to help. This served to ratchet his anger up another notch. Without preamble he fired off a very short email giving her his phone numbers and asking her to call. All there was left to do was wait.
He found himself constantly checking his phone over the next couple of days. He couldn't believe she hadn't called straight away. He was beside himself with worry. She hadn't emailed either. No contact. His mind was travelling roads better left untravelled. Was she sick, was she depressed, had she done something stupid to herself? And here he was half way across the country unable to do anything for her, unable to get in touch with her. She was his best friend for goodness sake.
Ari shook himself at the apparent absurdity of the thought that you could have a best friend that you've never met but it felt true. He contemplated the sheer volume of information they had exchanged to date and he realized that no one knew that much about him. It was a surreal experience for him having this almost phantom friend that he also knew so much about but didn't know at the same time. He didn't know what she looked like, what she sounded like and he found he really didn't care about that. He did care about her, what she thought, how she felt about things, what she found amusing. Right now he just wanted her to call so he could know she was ok.
Ana spent the first few days after the discovery in utter hell. All she did was cry and sleep and think about all the time she'd wasted believing her now ex-boyfriend's lies. Believing that they were on the same path, that they had a future, that he wanted the same things she did. She recalled cringing when he said he still loved her and she nearly threw up when he tried to explain that it was expected that men have a little more freedom, it didn't mean anything. She was so angry at herself for not seeing through the facade he'd created.
Fortunately her sister was being very supportive. Marina sat with her, held her when she cried and made sure she ate. She also performed another very important function; she ran interference between Ana and her mother who was trying her absolute best to inflame the situation more. Ana's cousins also helped out by visiting the idiot, ensuring that he left her alone and didn't try anything. She appreciated this since the creep hadn't stopped calling or texting her until he was told in no uncertain terms by several burly boys to stop it or else.
She'd received Ari's email. It surprised her, she didn't expect that. So far they'd kept a certain level of anonymity, a certain distance. Speaking to him, actually hearing his voice was another thing entirely. She was completely unsure if she wanted to change the nature of their relationship but she understood what it took for him to make the offer. So many times she'd dialled his number and hung up before it went through. She was in such a negative emotional place that she kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong if they actually spoke. What if they didn't have the same connection, the same banter? What if he didn't find her as funny in person?
'Come on Ana, he's your friend. Just talk to him,' she chastised herself for the umpteenth time. With shaking hands she hit the redial button and waited, completely tempted to just hang up again.
"Hello," he said
"Hi Ari, its Ana," she said her voice quivering a little from nervousness
"Ana," he breathed, "are you ok?"
"Yeah I just needed to get my head around some things. Sorry I didn't call or email. To be honest I've been a little bit of a mess," she said in a rush.
"That's ok. I understand," he said relieved that she was all right.
They started talking like they'd been doing it for years. Ana talked about the break up and her feelings. Ari broke in with supportive comments and some wishful thinking of what he would like to do to 'The Jerk' as they dubbed him. The conversation naturally progressed to other things and before they realized it a couple of hours had gone by and Ana's phone was beeping that the battery was dying.
"Wow, I can't believe we've been talking for so long. My battery is dying so I'm going to have to get going soon," she exclaimed.
"I know. Are you ok?' he asked again for the hundredth time.
"I will be. I just need some time to work it all out. I know I'm better off without him. Thanks for being there," she said shyly.
"Hey as corny as it sounds, that's what friends are for. Take care Ana," he said with feeling.
"Thank you Ari. Goodnight," she said as she hung up the phone. Moving slowly around her room trying to locate the charger, she realized that she felt a lot better about things. It was wonderful to get things off her chest and just have someone listen. She was glad she took the risk of calling him and she hoped that it wouldn't be the only time they talked. He was truly a good friend.
Ana and Ari continued using their emails as the main form of communication, but there were a few calls thrown in. Ana was still occasionally sad and self depreciating about her break up but she was getting better and starting to come out of her slump.
"Now just right click on the icon," Ari instructed. "The page should open and you should be able to see me."
Ana carefully did as she was told and an image of a handsome young man appeared on her screen. Instinctively she waved and watched as he chuckled at her.
"Wow this Skype thing is pretty cool," she said.
"Um Ana? You can hang up the phone now," Ari reminded her between peals of laughter. Ana blushed with embarrassment as she put the phone down and averted her eyes from him.
"Hey not all of us are IT geniuses. You're lucky I didn't blow up the computer trying to get this thing up and running," she said still a little annoyed at her inadequacy around all things high tech.
"Don't worry babe you'll always have me to walk you through it," he said still chuckling. He'd been laughing so hard he hadn't had a good look at her. Cute was the word that came to mind. She looked younger than her years and had a pair of dimples that made him want to smile. He couldn't see much else but he was pleased that she appeared more relaxed after her initial blunder.
Ana had briefly considered her appearance before deciding on just going with the natural look. And by that she meant no make-up, baggy t-shirt and sweat pants. She figured that this was a chat with a friend not a date so it shouldn't matter. But seeing him now, all laughing and handsome, she felt a twinge of discomfort at her sloppiness.
Like their phone calls the conversation seemed to flow without much difficultly and even the very brief silences were comfortable. This time it was Ari that stifled a yawn indicating that they again had lost track of time. They signed off and added another multimedia format to their repertoire.
Once again Ari found himself bored on a Saturday afternoon aimlessly surfing the net, not really looking at anything in particular. Glancing at the several open applications, he noticed he had a new email. He opened it excitedly as it was from Ana.
"You will never believe what happened today!! So I'm out shopping, not really looking for anything but not wanting to miss the sales. I go into a store that I don't normally frequent since it's out of my price range. With the sales though, it brings it back down to a reasonable level. I spot a really nice little black dress that has been heavily reduced and I'm doubly lucky that they have one in my size.
I'm heading to the dressing room with a little prayer that it fits. Hey, you have no idea how disappointing it is to find something you really like but discover it is designed for a stick insect! I put the dress on and shuffled out of the dressing room with my jeans around my ankles because I can't be bothered taking them off. I look at myself and think 'Not bad'.
About this time is when the sales assistant walks in and starts to gush. At first I thought she was just doing her job, complimenting the customer, trying to make the sale. Then she started moving closer, fiddling with the zip, touching my waist, telling me how nice my curves look in the dress. I'm becoming uncomfortable at this point but she doesn't stop there. She then gets very handsy, touching my back and sides, positioning the belt, all the while saying how nice my breasts look. I feel her hands moving over my belly going higher and higher. I caught her eye in the mirror nanoseconds before she was about to touch my breast. At this point she froze and stepped back. I was mortified, red faced and attempting to bolt back to the dressing room but couldn't moved quickly because of the damn jeans.
I'm frantically trying to get changed and all the while I'm thinking how hilarious you would find this situation. Is it wrong that I was thinking of you while taking my clothes off? LOL! I ended up buying the dress but really? Was that normal? Did I read too much into it? I don't think I'm ever going into that shop again."
Ari couldn't stop laughing. Only Ana could get herself into these sticky situations. He automatically picked up his phone and dialled. She answered almost immediately.
"Hey Ari," she smiled.
"So is that what all your shopping trips are like?" he chuckled.
"Don't laugh. It was really weird. So what do you think?" she asked hesitantly.
"I think I need to see that dress," He laughed outright to her frustrated groan. "Seriously though, sounds like she took things a little too far."
"Ya think?" she said sarcastically. "I'm still blushing"
They then launched into a discussion about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour by people you have only just met. This made for a lot of laughs and another lengthy conversation.
It had been months since her break up and Ana was nervously excited about her date with Bradley. He'd asked her out after being introduced by a mutual friend. She'd gone through her whole closet and couldn't decide what to wear. She shook her head at the typical female moment. Just as she was discarding yet another potential first date outfit her alarm pinged and she jumped in shock. She'd been so wrapped up in getting ready that she forgot about the 'face time' she'd arranged with Ari.
Ana hurried to the lap top and booted it up, annoyed at even the few seconds it took to do so. More confident than she was in the beginning she logged on the site to find Ari's smiling face.
"Hey there, thought you'd forgotten about me." He pouted playfully.
"Never!!" she exclaimed laughing. "Just being a girl and unable to decide what to wear tonight. Got a little carried away and I've emptied the whole wardrobe. Guess what? I have nothing to wear!" she explained.
"What's the occasion?" he asked.
"A date," she said shyly. Ari felt the smile freeze on his face. She was dating again. He knew it was bound to happen at some point however he couldn't help but feel concerned. He didn't want her to get hurt again.
"Ok, show me the contenders," he said more calmly than he felt. Ana moved over to the bed and held up two dresses. "On woman. I need to see them on. I'm a mere male, I can't decide like that!" he joked.
Ana laughed as she moved out of the camera's view to put on the first dress chatting to him all the while about how the date came about. When she was done she came back into view. Ari smiled, she looked pretty in the floral dress. It was 'sweet' not too revealing but not too prudish either. He liked it and told her so. He watched the blur of motion as she went to get into the other option. As he waited he wondered how he'd ended up in the 'girlfriend' role helping her pick out dresses.
Ari was chuckling to himself when she came into view. The laughter died in his throat as he saw her wearing what had to be the infamous little black dress of a million emails ago. His breath caught and he couldn't stop staring at the way it clung to every single curve. He swallowed hard and averted his eyes trying to get his heart rate to calm down among other physical reactions. "Oh you don't like this one?" Ana said misreading his reaction.
Ari almost couldn't bring himself to speak but he couldn't take the disappointed look on her face. "It's nice Ana; I'm just not sure it's right for a first date. The other one seems more appropriate for that." He said hoping she didn't notice the strain in his voice. He let go of the breath he'd been holding when he saw her nod in understanding.
They chatted a little more before Ana said she had to go and get ready. Ari wished her luck and signed off. Shutting the computer down, he fell back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. He tried to puzzle through his reaction and decided he was just a guy reacting to seeing a good looking woman nothing more than that. He didn't even go near the emotional turmoil that the thought of her wearing that dress around another man created. No he would touch that with a barge pole.