I might just keep putting this up as I go.
I first ‘met’ Beverly Lopez on a social media sub-group dedicated to weird and uncanny events along the Appalachian Trail. I would tell you the name of the social media platform, except that I fear the inevitable libel suit that would result; their lawyers would likely throw the book at me, and I simply cannot face that possibility. Their name is unimportant at this point in the narrative, at any rate. The real point is that I vaguely knew of Beverly’s existence, after a few weeks’ worth of posts and comments, and she knew of mine. Such is the nature of our modern social whirl.
We maintained this shadowy, half-alive mutual acquaintance for several months before outside reality abruptly intervened. My university was hosting a lecture on occult-heroic musical traditions in Tennessee, and I ‘liked’ and linked it to the group. So did Beverly, at almost the same time. It turned out that we both attended the same school, and that we were both planning to attend the same lecture. Both of us made enthusiastic noises about possibly meeting each other there. I don’t know whether she was as socially apprehensive as I was about the idea, but I consoled myself with the thought that we didn’t have to say hello to each other. I had a description — short, black hair, green eyes, hair long but in a bun — but it was always so hard to find people in a crowd, no?
Yes, it should have occurred to me that lectures on occult-heroic musical traditions in Tennessee might not be particularly well-attended, or that most of the attendees would likely be doing so remotely. There were a total of five people physically in the lecture room, and that was including the speaker. Since Beverly was the only person in the room with black hair, identifying her was easy.
She recognized me from my vague description, too, and gave me an embarrassed smile that helped ease my own anxiety. Clearly she had been half-dreading this meeting, too. “Hi… [my name]?” She made it a question — and to answer your own: I will not be giving you my name. No, I will not even use a pseudonym, because I don’t know if it would be safe.
Since she knew my name, even if you do not, I tried my best to be outgoing. “That’s right!” I replied, probably too brightly.