After a lengthy time spent in consideration, Samantha replied, "Alright, Maria. I'll agree to your terms for now. Please, don't mess up our chances." The voice came to the forefront and, although not from her mouth, it sounded audible and familiar to Maria's ears. The two had been together for a long time, which didn't seem to help their disposition with each other. However, the loneliness dulled along the edges when together and it didn't take long for Samantha's excitement to catch up with Maria's.
"We can consider a different name, if you don't care for Maria. I'm not picky." Co-conspirators, the two women turned to face the computer.
"No, keep it for now. There has to be a reason why you chose it, maybe 'cause it reminds you of Grandma." Memories passed between them.
A little after eleven at night and neither woman planned on resting. No, no sleep. We have too much to search for. Maria opened a long dictation file from Dr. Lawson's day in the wav player, clicking continuous playback. While his melodic medical prose rang in her ears, Maria did what she did best and researched him on the Internet using her favorite search engines and people search resources. The more information Maria obtained, the more she craved, her heroine or a super delicious, sexy steak.
A fifteen-year-old archived newspaper article from a high school sporting event jumped out at her from the screen. She printed the paragraph and started a pile. Another site turned out to be a jackpot for graduation announcements from a Washington high school, a Washington university for a Bachelor of Science, and another from the University of Washington-School of Medicine. The articles joined the growing pile proportional to their interest in Luke.
The mouse clicked and she discovered a wedding announcement. Her heart beat a staccato. How dare he? What thoughts had gone through his mind twelve years ago? Disappointed, Maria assimilated the little snippet which created a definite obstacle. To be honest, the phrases came at her from the side, catching her off guard. Her mind raced and darted around different scenarios while her finger continued to push the left button on her technological rodent. Her eyes watered and, on autopilot, sought any reference to his name. Voracious after the evidence emerged regarding his wanderings and infidelity, Maria searched him out.
"I think it's okay. Think about it, only marriage. We've seen it before. Don't worry about it. Breathe deep--"
"Shut up, Samantha! I can't think with your stupid 'happy thoughts'. I'll take care of her, it's not ha--"
"Wait! Look, what's that?"
Relief flooded their lungs with air. A divorce announcement, dated approximately eighteen months ago, flipped the switch, releasing them back to reality. The notice stopped Maria from contemplating ways to change his marital status. Another search revealed another article about the woman, who had been a moron and let him go, had remarried but so far, Dr. Lawson had not. To be certain, Maria searched further, but found nothing. He's waiting for us!
She scratched the ex-wife's name onto a small paper pad and continued researching her Luke. It became a mantra in her mind, echoing from the sides. My Luke, my Luke. My, my, my, my Luke.
She slumped over the keyboard with her eyes mesmerized by the bright, glowing pixels which hypnotized her mind.
She spied a jewel. The most prized in her collection thus far. She printed and added it to the modest paper stack sitting on her left. She visualized his face leaning into her, talking to her, being with her. Her own limp, greasy, mousy brown hair swung as she shook with excitement.
She studied the photograph closely enough to cause the zoomed edges to blur on the screen. A young man stood with thick dark brown hair parted in a crooked line to the side and swept back in a windblown curve above his ears. Wide rimmed, dark frame glasses precarious on their perch above the bridge of his nose. Lickable. He stood next to a nondescript woman and two other men. The caption at the bottom named him "Luke Lawson enjoying the lake with friends". The group's shorts puffed out, long enough to pass the decency test yet short enough to be considered cool. Combine the girl's larger-than-life hair over a skin tight tube top with the three young men half dressed in baggy tank tops and the picture reeked absurdly of early-90's style. Average people on an average day.
His eyes called to her, even through the glasses, piercing her, as if aware that she studied his photo. He could see her, discern her. The picture printed in gray scale, matching the newspaper print. That it was lackluster, and colorless mattered little to her. Her own rainbow painted the scene and at the arc's end--Luke. She picked the hard copy up from the pile, kissed it, and laid it with care onto his file.
Armed with information about her soul mate, she closed down the computer and turned off the lights. She found her way to the futon bed which made up the furniture in the remaining apartment's floor space. She crawled between the old cotton sheets. The wood slats attempted to filter her from the bed onto the dusty floor. She moved from side to side, wiggling, in an attempt to find comfort on the thin mattress. Maria looked up toward the ceiling through the dark. She imagined his face, how excited he'd be to see her, to know she found him.
Samantha, too, allowed herself to become involved in the moment which mixed planning and wishing. When Maria fell asleep picturing herself a slim and trim girl in the picture next to him, Samantha lie awake thinking he could be the one, the real one. She gave into the night's call, accepting the dream-state with Maria.
The dreams progressed, and Luke metamorphosed into what her dad's expression had been before he left so many years ago, terrifying and unforgiving.