Thursday, July 8, 2010

#fridayflash--Happy Birthday, Facebook Friend

Happy Birthday, Facebook Friend
by Eric J. Krause

She'd been on Facebook for just over two years, and she loved it. She'd originally joined because it was the big thing in the bike club her and her husband, Ron, belonged to. It was a great way to get news on upcoming excursions and other club events, as well as keeping up on the juicy gossip.

Not long after, old high school friends began friending her. She hadn't seen most of them since graduation, so it was super to find out what they'd been up to. Every time she logged on, she had fun catching up with them all. Sometimes through conversations in various posts, but usually just by reading various musings or, even better, by checking out the pictures people posted.

When her birthday rolled around, she discovered something else wonderful: all the Happy Birthday wishes. Each one was pretty generic, but that was okay. They all made her smile.

Except one. Oddly enough, it was the only one that included any sort of personalized touch. It asked her if she remembered how much fun her fourteenth birthday part at Crazy Rivers Water Park had been. It had been a blast, but who was this asking? Edmon Lonevie? She couldn't remember him, and she certainly hadn't friended him. Instead of a photograph of himself, he had a picture of a wall of flames. It looked neat, but obviously did nothing to jog her memory of who he was.

After pondering the mystery for a minute, she went back to reading other birthday wishes and forgot about Edmon Lonevie. In fact, she'd forgotten all about him until a year later when the birthday greetings poured in again. She ate up all the generic ones from her friends, but blanched at the personalized one from the man she couldn't remember.

"Happy Birthday, Crystal! I hope today is as special as the new Sentra you got for your Sweet Sixteen!"

Who the hell was Edmon Lonevie? Sweat broke out as the memory of his post last year returned. She'd have remembered someone with that strange name. Wouldn't she?

She clicked on his profile and found she was his lone friend. The only two things he'd posted were her birthday wishes. Her breath rasped and sputtered as she started to hyperventilate. This was . . . it was creepy.

A few deep breaths brought her under control. She clicked to send a private message to this Edmon character, whoever he was. She'd be polite, of course. You didn't catch flies with vinegar, after all.

"I'm sorry, but I don't remember you. Did we go to high school together?" She could have checked her yearbooks, but they were tucked somewhere in a box in the garage. It'd probably take half the day to find them.

She got an almost instant reply. "Of course you don't remember me. You asked not to."

"What does that mean?" She got another reply right away.

"Please. Do you really believe your family could afford to rent out a water park for the day? In the middle of summer?"

"I always figured other parents chipped in."

His answer came back so fast they might as well have been on the chat function. "How about the car? Your dad drove a beat-up truck, and your mom had to take the bus to work."

"They scrimped and saved?" It sounded lame even as she typed it.

"And Ronald. Your precious Ronald. Be honest. You married him for his looks. Do you really think he has enough on the ball to bring home a six-figure salary? What is it he does again?"

"He's a consultant," but she didn't hit send. Instead she held down the backspace key, erasing that sentence. Yeah, he was a consultant, but what did that mean? It pained her to admit she had no clue as to what her husband did. Instead, she went back on the offensive, yelling at him. "WHO ARE YOU?"

A message didn't zip back at her. Instead, his profile picture, that of a wall of flames, extinguished, and a man with slick, jet-black hair, a pencil-thin mustache, and a pointy goatee walked into the frame. But profile pictures couldn't move on Facebook. Not that she'd ever seen.

"Remember me now?" It wasn't typed.

She shook her head. The voice came from the screen, not her speakers, which were off anyway.

"I must've made the memory cleanser a bit too strong. No matter. I'm just here to wish you a happy birthday. By my calculations, you have fifteen more before your fiftieth, when you turn possession of your soul over to me."

Tears streamed down her face, and her throat clenched. Somehow she managed to croak out, "Are you the devil?"

He chuckled. "No, sorry, you're not that important." He reached out of his profile pic and smacked his typed name. The "E" and "D" of Edmon switched places, showing the word "Demon," while all the letters of Lonevie jumbled and spun, eventually stopping with the spelling, "Evil One."

Before she could say anything, he said, "See you in fifteen years," and snapped his fingers. She sat staring at all the Happy Birthdays on her Facebook wall. Something seemed off, but she couldn't figure out what. The birthday wishes seemed in order. Just nice, benign greetings.


This story is a contest entry for Deanna Schrayer's blog, The Other Side of Deanna. The theme is "birthdays." Check out the rules here.