Behind The Screen, Beneath The Heart

by Rosemary Gooding


This story began as a prompt in a Writer’s Pen meeting;

At a bustling party last weekend, Barry and Helen were the centre of attention, but for entirely different reasons. Barry, known among our circle as someone who liked to have things his way, had parted ways with Lydia eighteen months prior. Despite the divorce, rumours swirled that he wasn’t quite over her. Lydia, for her part, had longed for a freedom Barry seemed reluctant to grant.

Helen, ever the social butterfly, seemed to have set her sights on Barry. She never missed a chance to be near him, whether that meant choosing the seat next to him or striking up casual conversations across the garden hedge. Barry, however, seemed less than enchanted by Helen’s forthright manner, often put off by her assertiveness.

Helen had confessed to me during a quiet moment that her search for companionship had led her to EHarmony after a fruitless stint on Tinder. Beauty, she lamented, often trumped personality on these platforms. She had connected with someone named Hugh. He was older, a detail that didn’t bother her, and like her, he was searching for a partner nearby. Their conversations had spanned seven months, yet a face-to-face meeting remained elusive.

At the same gathering, Sally shared a juicy tidbit: Barry had ventured into the world of online dating, chatting with a woman named Caroline. A plan began to form in my mind, a nudge towards transparency in our digital age.

Seizing a lull in the conversation, I broached the subject of online dating. Barry’s discomfort was palpable, and Helen excused herself with a fluster, leaving a trail of suspicion in her wake. I pressed on, questioning the honesty of online personas. The room’s silence was my answer; I had struck a nerve.

Weeks later, news reached me that Helen was relocating while Barry had accepted a position in a neighboring town. It was only by chance, driving through town six months on, that I spotted Barry and Helen, arm in arm, a vivid testament to the unpredictable journey of love.

If you enjoyed this story you can read more from the Writer’s Pen group on this page