Short #1 — “A Victim of Romance”

She leaned back in her computer chair, her legs swinging slightly as a gentle sigh escaped her lips.

He had written back again. Her computer screen was lit brightly, her e-mail inbox spread across the full screen.

She relished these moments when he wrote, this was her favourite part of the day. The monotony of her job cleaning the toilets of towering grey CBD buildings was emotionally crippling, but because of him the past few months had sped by in a dreamy haze.

She wondered again how she had got so lucky. He was so handsome, but that’s hardly surprising. They wouldn’t make him a commanding officer in the military if he wasn’t handsome, would they? His square jaw and broad shoulders seemed crafted to issue important orders. She spent a pleasurable moment imagining him in his uniform, overlooking his outpost in hot Africa.

But she knew the tender side of him, the real side. Handsome he may be, but below the surface he was emotional, spiritual, caring. And he loved her. He saw her spirit and personality that the previous men in her life had never appreciated. He offered friendship and he listened. She could tell him anything.

She leaned forward eagerly towards the keyboard, clicking reply to the latest e-mail from him she had already read through several times.

He was giving up the army, and moving to be with her. He’d had enough of war, blood and sand. He was ready to retire, but the army did not want to let him go. They were holding his final settlement payment, and demanding his back taxes be paid before they would let him leave. He couldn’t settle this from where he was out-posted in Africa, and they knew it. He was trapped.

She knew she could help somehow. But how? She had a small amount of savings she had been putting aside in preparation for their new life together — but what use was that when he was in Africa?

He didn’t want to ask this, but he was desperate. Would she be able to settle his back taxes owed to the Army? His friend was a lawyer in Africa, all she had to do was get the money to him and he could handle the rest.

Finally. Something tangible she could to do help. It was her life savings, but now she could show him what the relationship really meant to her.

The phone rang sharply, it’s shrill squawks ruining her reverie.

It was Dave, from the Bank. They wanted to know about the payment to Africa. They wanted to understand the payment. They mentioned scams.

She was cautious. She knew they wouldn’t understand. How could they? How could she explain to them how rare this love was? The slow building of their friendship? How she had broken down his barriers, and he had opened his heart to her?

It’s fine she told them. The money is going to a friend. Yes, an African friend. Yes, she does know him in real life.

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