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IM: Internet Mortification This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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It all started one afternoon, after school. I turned on my MacBook and logged onto IMQuick.com. This was a site which I had started using earlier this year. It was like texting but faster, and online. Almost everyone in my grade had it-boys and everything. So of course, I talked my parents into letting me get one. Mom and Dad aren’t the most lenient, but, with a little effort, I get what I want. I logged on because I wanted to ask my friend Lindsey about the social studies homework. I was glad to see the little green circle next to Lindsey’s name, meaning she was logged on. “Hi Lynn, what was the S.S. HW for today?” I typed. When I heard the ding, I glanced at the screen. She said: “Ahhh! Why can’t you just write down the work for once, Dani?” I sighed and typed “Just say it please.” I could almost feel her shake her head when she replied “Questions 1 through 6 P.452”. I thanked her and was about to press the log off button when I heard another ding from the computer. When I looked at the screen, the message was from a “Jayson45”. I didn’t know who this was. I scrunched up my forehead and looked at the IM. It said “Hi”. I responded with a subtle: “Who is this?” I never loved the idea of talking to strangers, even though that seemed like cliché advice from a parent. There was another ding: this time the message said “I’m Jayson, I’m 12, how old are you?” My hand shook slightly and I almost jumped out of my seat as I heard the door to my room open. My mom came in (like she owned the place) and said “What’s with all the dinging?” I told her I was messaging a friend, quickly clicking back to the chat with Lynn. My mom nodded in approval and said “Tell Lindsey I say hello.” I shook my head and waited for Mom to leave before I went back into the chat with this Jayson. I had always been there when my school talked about all the nonsense about cyber-attacks and all that junk that never happens. I put that all aside and said to this guy: “I’m 12 also!” I figured, what harm would there be in sharing my age, he could find that out anyway at school. I questioned myself for assuming that Jayson went to my school. I figured, I know a lot of the people at my school, but I guess I don’t know everyone. My mind started to wander as I looked into the screen of my computer. I was jolted by another ding. This time the message said: “Do you have a boyfriend?” I didn’t. I considered lying, however, another cliché was “always tell the truth”. I smiled at my bending of the rules as I typed: “No, do you have a girlfriend?” I smiled again, this time at my playing hard-to-get. Within ten seconds of my response, there was another ding, this time; the message read “No?”. I looked at the smiley face like it was a view of the entire world. I began to doubt this person went to my school, because if he did, by now he would have mentioned something. I asked myself if this boy could have a crush on me. But then I asked myself another question: how could he have a crush on me if he has never seen me in school, or anywhere for that matter. I shrugged and said “send me a picture of you”. I realized that this was a bit forward, but I figured if this person was lying about their age, how could they send a picture? When I heard the ding, I clenched my fists, ready to make my next move. I clicked on the picture and I saw a fairly good looking guy. Still trying to play hard to get, I responded “Not bad.” My mom opened my bedroom door again. I rolled my eyes and sighed again. “Lunch”, she said. This was the only word that could tear me away from something like this. I got up, excited for a delicious grilled cheese: and that’s what I got. I smiled and ate my grilled cheese. To my surprise, when I got back to my laptop, there were ten messages waiting for me. My mouth went wide open when I saw the words: “send a picture of you…” I almost threw up, I was so nervous. The other messages were all “c’mon” and “u there”. I rolled my eyes, this was becoming annoying. I needed a moment to gather my thoughts: handsome guy who wants a picture of me, obviously interested in a relationship. I decided and said to myself: “yolo”. That’s when I started up the webcam on my computer and made a sexy pose, frowning a bit: part of my hard-to-get act. I sent it, afterward I second guessed myself a little. I sat there, questioning myself until the next ding. “U R H-O-T”. That’s all that was in the text box. I blushed so much I thought my face was on fire. That self-appreciation only lasted a minute until the next message came in saying: “Let’s meet up tomorrow.” I was now nervous; this guy was showing the signs of what everyone warned me about. I guess I had lost track of time because my mom came into my room yet again! “Dinner, baby”, she said with a grin. Food was something my family shared a love of. I guess my mom could read my nervousness, because she said “Everything OK, Dani?” I nodded and walked with mom to the dinner table, without responding to the message. When I arrived back to my room, to my absolute horror, my sister, Addie, was looking at my computer. “WHAT are you doing?!” I screamed. My sister was 16, not the best behaved in the bunch. Addie was rather rebellious. She was the average though, tattoos, piercings, everything you see in the average teen rebel. She grinned at me, “Nice guy you got here”. I told her to get away from my computer. It didn’t take her long after reading the conversation to say: “Are you freaking insane?! Where do you get off sending pictures of yourself to strangers? Have you even met him?” When I shook my head, she jumped up out of my chair and said: “I’m telling Mom.” I almost tackled her onto the ground. “Don’t…you…dare” I growled at her. She looked at me with disgust, and what seemed like disappointment. “How could you be so naïve, Dani? I’m not trying to be the snitch here, but, don’t you remember everything your school told you? And what about Mom and Dad? This is a standard example of what to watch out for! I bet this is a forty-something-year-old man sitting in his basement, some sicko.” I shook my head violently: “Are you done yet, Addie? Listen; is it so hard to believe that there is a boy who is interested in me?” Addie shook her head. I told her she better not tell Mom and dismissed her. She shook her head and walked out, disappointed. I sat there thinking of Addie as a hypocrite. Who is she to tell me to be careful? She is the one with the tattoos and piercings and who knows what else. That’s when I did something, which I soon learned I would regret for a long time: I gave Jayson45 my school address and told him to meet me tomorrow at 3:30, after school.
***


In doing this, I figured, maybe I’ll find a nice boyfriend, someone to love, every girl’s dream. I figured maybe I’d have someone to kiss and all that. Although, deep in my heart, I knew what I was doing was wrong, and I only did it to prove my sister wrong. The problem was, I didn’t prove her wrong.
***

It was 3:25; I sat outside of my school, on the benches, where I told Jayson45 to meet me. I continued to look at my watch, in suspense. I thought about my sister, who was up at the high school, across the street. Every few minutes, someone would say hi to me and ask what I was doing. All I would say is: “Waiting for my Mom, talk to you later!” Then I smiled. Suddenly, at 3:30 on the dot, I saw a white van pull up, but then it drove away. Soon after the van pulled away, a green car came. Out stepped a man, he wore torn jeans, a t-shirt and had really messed up, ugly looking white hair. He came up to me and put his hand on my arm, very uncalled for. I jumped away and pushed his arm. That’s when he grabbed me and I thought I was dead meat until I heard: “Police! Hands in the air now! Hands up!” Suddenly, there were two cops next to me, one who threw down the man onto his car smashing his head on the hood, causing a loud crash. Then the other cop pulled me away, saying I’d be fine. That’s when I saw my sister. She was running over to me. She hugged me and said, “Are you OK?!” I just stared at her thinking, “was this her?” She said, “I read where you said you would meet him, and I went with my gut on this one.” Tears came out of my eyes as I hugged her, practically tackling her as I leaped into her arms. All I could do was mutter “Thank you”, over and over again. I said to my sister: “IM no longer stands for instant message, in my mind, it means internet mortification!” Addie just stood there, smiling right at me.



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