“Don’t worry, I’ll get it!” Bethany yelled to her brothers who were sitting on the couch watching Monday night football. She ran into the kitchen pleading the caller not to hang up. In the process, she tripped on the wire of the old dust-covered monitor. She cursed as she fell to her knee and then again as the phone silenced. Just as Bethany was about to go scold her brothers, the glint of the screen caught her eye. She pulled over a chair and stared at the obsolete computer. Synthesized music began to play softly and Bethany scooted forward, intrigued. By doing so, she leaned against the spacebar launching a metal ball across the screen until it sunk at the bottom.
Within the hour, Bethany had taught herself the ways of the game. Left control moved the left flipper. Right flipper with the right control. The ball bounced back and forth and back and forth and back again defying all laws of gravity with the single press of a key. It soon grew late, but Bethany didn’t seem to notice. She sat with her eyes glued to that tiny little ball.
“It’s almost morning, Beth. Go to bed,” her oldest brother, Keith, eventually told her.
She waved him off. “In a second.”
Keith knew his sister better and pulled the plug of the computer screen. Bethany turned to yell at him, but he had already fled the room. So she crawled under the desk and plugged it back in. That’s when the message popped up: U r amazing @ this! How do u do it?
Bethany looked at the screen, rubbed her eyes, and then looked again. There was definitely a message there. Someone had hacked into the system. She quickly pulled up a word processor and typed a response. And another message came back.
They talked well into the next day until Bethany fell asleep on the keyboard. The second she woke up, the messages continued. And so it went for the rest of the summer.
“You look like a zombie, Beth. Get off the dumb computer and come play soccer outside.”
“And miss one more message from my love, Keith?”
“You love soccer!” When she didn’t turn, Keith turned her around. “He? She? It is a hacker! You don’t know what they even look like nevermind what they do with their life. For all you know it could be some hairy old guy that is wanted for murder in seven countries!”
Bethany shook her head. “I know love when I see it.”
“You haven’t seen it!”
She spun and typed a quick message: Want 2 meet? U said u live by the park.
Keith shook his head. “All I’m asking is that you be careful.”
Bethany blew him off as the response came in. She smiled and bolted up the stairs to change into a pale tank top and skinny jeans. She slid on her sandals and basically sprinted to the park.
As she sat down on the giant boulder, as the message read, Bethany began to have her doubts. The park was surprisingly empty with the exception of the two old men playing chess on a nearby bench. She doubted if they could even dress themselves nevermind rescue her if the hacker was in fact a murderous beast. Bethany became very skirmish the more she considered how vulnerable she had made herself at the moment.
A hand tapped her shoulder from behind. Bethany let out a scream and nearly punched him in the face. She stopped as she got lost in the ocean-blue eyes mixed with the swishing sand-colored hair. It was as though this boy was made entirely of the beach, with the beachbody included.
She couldn’t muster up enough to speak, so she nodded slightly.
The boy smiled. Even that seemed to be perfect. “I’m Scot, but you probably know me better as Hacker.”
Bethany was dying inside. She had heard none of what Scot had said, but she didn’t even care. He wasn't some hairy old guy. He wasn't a murderer. He wasn't even remotely terrifying. It wasn’t until he stood up with his hand out did she snap out of it.
“Where are we going?”
“To the arcade. You can show me those pinball skills of yours.”
“That game that you were playing when-”
“Oh, yeah.” She grabbed his hand and smiled when their fingers fit together perfectly. “Let’s go, shall we?”