Perry looked over at Nancy and flashed her a huge grin. "Everything couldn't be more perfect between Sally and me," he chirped enthusiastically. "In fact, she herself couldn't be more perfect."
Nancy leaned back in her chair and studied Perry's eyes carefully. "So, you think you're really in love with her?"
"Oh no," replied Perry. "I don't just think that. I really do love her. And I know deep in my heart that she loves me too."
"But how can you be so sure of that?" asked Nancy. "I mean, you two have only chatted on the Internet for a few weeks at most. You haven't met her in person, and you said that you haven't even talked with her on the phone."
Perry leaned his head back and chuckled. "That doesn't matter, at least, not when two people like us have finally found each other." Perry then looked away and began rubbing his fingers nervously. "Besides, all of the other girls I've met in person never liked me that much. Some of then were even really cruel to me back in high school. And she told me that her experiences with guys had been very similar."
Perry's sudden change in demeanor made Nancy feel uncomfortable. "Well, what about me? Don't you think I like you?"
Her question made Perry smile slightly. "But you're different, Nancy. You're my friend and you always have been."
"That's kind of what I mean," she said. "How can you be sure you'll feel the same after you've met her face to face? Don't you think it would be a good idea to wait until then to decide if you love her or not? At least get her number..."
"You still don't understand," said Perry. "Her and I are kind of like outcasts. It's because of that that we belong together. The pain we share is what bonds us together. And there's a lot more to it than that. There are so many things that we both enjoy."
"Like what?" asked Nancy.
"Well..," replied Perry, pausing to think for a moment. "We both like the same classic novels and authors. And we both can see the true meanings behind surrealist works like those by de Chirico and Masson..."
"Wait a sec," said Nancy, eyeing Perry suspiciously. "Didn't you once tell me that you didn't care much for paintings or reading books of any kind?"
Perry shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He was beginning to feel annoyed with Nancy's incessant questioning. "Okay, I might have said that once. But Sally taught me that I was missing out by ignoring all those things. So you see, she's even helping me grow as a person."
Nancy let out a soft sigh and slightly shook her head. "Well, it's time for me to go."
"Wait," said Perry, the huge grin returning to his face. "I have some great news. Sally and I are getting married today."
That last comment left Nancy speechless. She wanted to tell him what a bad idea that was, but she knew that no matter what she would say, Perry would become extremely upset with her.
"And," continued Perry, "we both decided on a song we're going to have playing during our vows. Then afterwards we'll drive out to the mountains and rent a cabin for our..."
Nancy suddenly reached over and grabbed Perry by the shoulders. "I can't let keep doing this to yourself, Perry! She's not real! She's a just a ghost, a phantom you created in your mind!"
"Are you crazy?" yelled Perry, shoving Nancy away. "Of course she's a real person! I can prove it to you!" Perry swiveled around and began typing on his keyboard.
"Stop it!" shouted Nancy. "You're driving yourself insane with this fantasy of yours!"
Perry ignored her and kept on typing. After a few moments, he turned toward Nancy and pointed to the monitor. "You see? There she is, sending me a reply."
Nancy frowned as she stared at the blank monitor. "I'm so sorry," she said with a tear, "but I have to do this for your own good..." Shoving Perry aside, Nancy grabbed the laptop, flung it to the floor, and began stomping on it until it was nothing more than a collection of broken plastic and metal.
"You shouldn't have done that," growled Perry as he rose from his chair.
"I had no choice," said Nancy fearfully as Perry slowly approached her. "I'm your friend and I was only trying to help."
"You've just shown me what kind of friend you really are," said Perry minaciously. "Now you're going to pay for what you've done..."
A woman's terrified scream echoed loudly through the hallway. A recently hired orderly working the night shift at the state mental institution ran quickly to the front desk in a near panic.
"There's someone in trouble!" he gasped.
The head night nurse casually looked up at him and asked, "Room 313?"
"Yes, that's the one!" replied the worried intern.
"Relax," she said calmly. "She does that about once a week at around this time. She's done that ever since they brought her in over ten years ago. But if you feel you have to, then go check on her."
"I will," said the confused orderly. After looking in on the woman he strolled back to the front desk.
"Well?" asked the nurse.
"She seems to have calmed down now," he replied. "She's just sitting on her bed and it looks like she's typing on an imaginary keyboard."
"She does that constantly," said the nurse. "From what little the doctors could find out, she's obsessed with an imaginary friend by the name of Perry. She's always writing stories about him and some mysterious 'other woman'."
"That's really sad," said the orderly. He then turned and headed down the hall.
After the orderly had walked away, the head nurse looked in the direction of room 313 and muttered, "Poor Sally..."
Copyright © Victor Ward 2013