Field Studies in Digital Love

The story of a modern romance that will ring true — perhaps a bit too true.

More From Winter Fiction Issue No. 1
5 articles
The Missing Guest
Hidden Bodies: Chapter 7
The Date-Night Babysitter's Conduct Manual
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Message

Thursday 8:14 p.m.

So hi this is me! Jenny.

Message

Friday 7:32 a.m.

Hi Jenny, it was good to meet you last night. I hope you and your friends enjoyed the film and you got home in time to get packed. We stayed a bit longer in the bar but decided to call it a night around midnight, probably for the best as off to the footie tomorrow. Let me know if you fancy a drink when you get back from Chicago. Enjoy the wedding. Best, David.

More From Winter Fiction Issue No. 1
5 articles
The Missing Guest
Hidden Bodies: Chapter 7
The Date-Night Babysitter's Conduct Manual
Housekeeping!

Message

Friday 8:15 a.m.

Hi David, good to meet you too. The film was ok (did you say you'd seen it?) but there was a ridic bit in an airlock where I laughed and people turned. Whoops. Still, if you're going to riff on THE seminal space movie, you'd better do better than Bullock in an airlock in her Calvins, lovely as she is. En route to airport now. Will be in touch when I'm back. Jenny x

Message

Friday 9:01 a.m.

Ha yes, I laughed at that bit too. However, I was alone in my mirth. As usual. In fact, that might be the title of my autobiography. Alone in My Mirth. Have a safe flight. Don't go mad in duty free like I always do. David x

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Friday 9:28 a.m.

Trying to resist the urge to buy cigars … Jx

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Friday 9:29 a.m.

I think you can probably justify those as a maid-of-honor cost. Dx

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Friday 9:30 a.m.

How many Toblerones is too many Toblerones? X

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Friday 9:31 a.m.

The giant ones? I'd say five or six. X

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Friday 09:32 a.m.

GET THEE BEHIND ME. X

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Friday 7:30 p.m.

Did you land safe? Dx

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Friday 7:35 p.m.

Yes! Thank you. Just putting the finishing touches to my speech xx

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Friday 7:36 p.m.

You'll be great. Good luck! X

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Saturday 11:32 a.m.

Morning (or afternoon to you). Just rehearsing my speech. Agh. Going to have a bit of Dutch courage. Well, Italian. (Prosecco) Have a lovely day, Jenny x P.S. here's me in my dress looking nervous!

Message

Saturday 11:45 a.m.

Fierce dress. X

Message

Saturday 6:50 p.m.

How did it go? Did you dance with the best man, as is tradition? David x

Message

Saturday 7:59 p.m.

Hellooooooo! But drunk now! But it wqent SO WELL. People even laughed in the right places, which was nice.Phewwww. Are you

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7:59 p.m.

Seen too soon!

8:00 p.m.

Are you having a god Saturday? Jx

8:00 p.m.

SENT too soon! Damn you autocorrect! Xx

8:00 p.m.

*Good* GOD.

8:15 p.m.

Sorry for all the messages, David. I know we've only just met! I blame the excitement (and the booze). It's not every day your best mate gets married. I'm not even sure you're getting these because it keeps going to green not blue. Or does that always happen when you're abroad? I can't remember. Anyway, rambling! Maybe we should swap email addresses to keep talking, rather than these crazy-long expensive texts. I am jenniferforestcat@hotmail.com because I used to have a forest cat. Have you seen them? They're amazing. They're the only kind of cat that can get down trees. I'll show you some pics sometime. He was called Simon and he died last year but he was living with my parents by then anyway. I still miss him. Anyway! X

8:20 p.m.

PS I know it's beyond retro to have a hotmail account but you know when you just cannot even be arsed with the colossal ball-ache of transferring everything? X

8:23 p.m.

PPS I hope you're having a nice evening - I'm presuming it is evening there by now?

8:27 p.m.

PPPS You probably have a wife don't you. It wouldn't be the first time some tosser has led me on

8:38 p.m.

PPPPS That was sort of a joke. I just tried to call you but it went straight to voicemail so I'm thinking you're out of reception or had enough of me going on. Anyway have a nice life. X

Sunday 6:15 a.m.

Hi David. Oh god, I am so sorry about those messages last night. I understand if you don't want to meet up now and just think I'm a weirdo or a psychopath. All the best, Jennifer

6:30 a.m.

Hi David, not sure if my last message got through but I just wanted to say how sorry I am about all those messages. Jennifer.

Message

Sunday 7:00 a.m.

Hi Nic, remember that bloke I met on Thursday before the movies? I'm freaking out because I slightly white-wine-turned at the wedding. Also I'm so hungover I think I might vomit stars. Can I forward you the messages so you can tell me what you think? Also I sent him one really early on that said get thee behind me in caps and I'm worried he didn't get the Satan reference and thought I was being prematurely sexual? Can I send you that one too? Jx

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7:01 a.m.

Argh sorry David that last message was meant for my friend. Okay, I'm just going to leave this now because I feel like I've completely fucked up. I don't blame you for ignoring me. It was nice to meet you. Jenny.

Message

Sunday 7:03 a.m.

Nic - just fucked up royally in the Reply All fashion. Sent this to that bloke from Thursday. Also will fwd other texts - carefully - now >> Hi Nic, remember that bloke I met on Thursday before the movies? I'm freaking out because I slightly white-wine-turned at the wedding. Also I'm so hungover I think I might vomit stars. Can I forward you the messages so you can tell me what you think? Also I sent him one really early on that said get thee behind me in caps and I'm worried he didn't get the Satan reference and thought I was being prematurely sexual? Can I send you that one too? Jx

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Message

Sunday 7:05 a.m.

Babes! I'm sorry it's FUCKING FUNNY but I know you'll be going through the mincer. Has he replied? Xx

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Sunday 7:06 a.m.

Nope

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Sunday 7:07 a.m.

Okay I think just step back now and try and enjoy Chicago and then drop him a line in a few days with apologies and best wishes, kind regards, all that polite grown-up shit

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Sunday 7:07 a.m.

TRY AND ENJOY CHICAGO

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Sunday 7:08 a.m.

Yes. Go get some brunch. Then take a walk. Xx

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Sunday 7:09 a.m.

I'm meeting Kim for lunch in a bit. That'll be a tonic. Xx

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Sunday 7:10 a.m.

Remember you are riding the storm of hangover guilt chems right now xxxx

7:10 a.m.

Also Jen I just googled him and there's a photo of him on a jet ski sooooo

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Sunday 7:11 a.m.

What's wrong with that

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Sunday 7:13 a.m.

Oh come on it's basically shorthand for I am a cunt

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Sunday 7:15 a.m.

Does it look like HIS jet ski

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Sunday 7:16 a.m.

Hard to tell but rest assured he is ON IT publicly

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Sunday 7:17 a.m.

I just can't get upset about a jet ski rn. Also am Googling and can't see that pic

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Sunday 7:18 a.m.

Four pages along but forget it now and GO EAT ALL THE BEIGE FOODS xxx

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Sunday 7:20 a.m.

Jenny just got got up and seen these, sorry! My phone died while I was out and then sort of collapsed into bed, just woke up now, must have needed it. Wow weddings are lethal eh. Well done on the speech. FYI I don't have a wife, David x

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Sunday 7:22 a.m.

Hi David yep this one burns. Thanks for being nice. Jenny x

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Sunday 7:23 a.m.

I have to admit I had to laugh at the one meant for your mate, I've done that with a work email. Mortifying! X

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Sunday 7:24 a.m.

THANKS FOR REMINDING ME X

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Sunday 7:25 a.m.

Haha. Have you taken some ibuprofen? X

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Sunday 7:27 a.m.

Six whole packs. I'd like to leave my books to my nephew, my jewelry to the Cats' Protection League, and my debt to Amazon. X

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Sunday 7:28 a.m.

My wife died from an ibuprofen overdose.

Sunday 7:29 a.m.

jk

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Sunday 7:30 a.m.

OH SO NOT FUNNY

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Sunday 7:33 a.m.

Sorry. Enjoy the rest of your trip x

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Sunday 7:34 a.m.

Thanks. Off out shortly to meet an old pal x

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Sunday 7:35 a.m.

Have a lovely time. I'm off out for Sunday lunch shortly too. X


David Porter

to Jennifer Willis

Jul 14 4:20 p.m.

Hi Jenny, hope you had a good time with your old pal. I had a really fantastic meal at this new place called Mr. Smithy's that's just opened in the Northern Quarter and specializes in chops. Perfect Sunday fodder! Had a fair bit of red wine but hoping I don't regret this tomorrow! I thought I'd take you up on your email offer so I could send a longer message. I hope you're feeling better. I wanted to say I was secretly pleased to see those messages because it implied you were interested albeit it in a strange, intense way.

In all honesty I've been thinking about you a lot, more than I usually would after meeting someone in a bar for half an hour. I hope this doesn't sound supremely creepy but I feel like there's a connection between us I haven't felt for a while, well okay a long time. Did you say you were over for a week?

Take care,

David x

Sent from my iPad


Jennifer Willis

to David Porter

Jul 14 4:25 p.m.

Hi David, just having a fag outside the bar and bought some data by chance - nice to hear from you. You are v sweet. Gotta get back in but speak soon and yes would love to make a plan. Jx


David Porter

to Jennifer Willis

Jul 14 4:28 p.m.

Is it a male or female old pal? Sorry I probably shouldn't even ask but I guess I would like to know whether you're on a date because I suppose I would like to know where I stand.

David x

Sent from my iPad


Jennifer Willis

to David Porter

Jul 14 4:30 p.m.

Where you STAND?


David Porter

to Jennifer Willis

Jul 14 4:32 p.m.

Oh god sorry roll on the day of breathalysers on technology. V best & kind regards

Sent from my iPad


Jennifer Willis

to David Porter

Jul 14 4:33 p.m.

You know I really think the major problem with modern technology is that it makes us feel intimately connected to the point of assimilation - for example, this is not really me in your tablet; it is merely my knavish, space-travelled WORDS


Jennifer Willis

to David Porter

Jul 14 4:34 p.m.

Also just a tip but maybe remove your device sign-off for future chat as nothing undermines a flirty message quite like 'sent from my iPad' - I mean iPads might be design classics but they're hardly erotic. Jx


David Porter

to Jennifer Willis

Jul 14 4:36 p.m.

Well now I just feel like a dick.


Jennifer Willis

to David Porter

Jul 14 5:30 p.m.

Listen David do you want to just meet up a week on Saturday and forget all this perilous messaging bullshit until then?


David Porter

to Jennifer Willis

Jul 14 5:31 p.m.

Yes.


Jennifer Willis

to David Porter

Jul 14 5:32 p.m.

Great. X


David Porter

to Jennifer Willis

Jul 14 5:33 p.m.

Perfect. X


David Porter

to Jennifer Willis

Jul 14 5:34 p.m.

We can do something fun.


Jennifer Willis

to David Porter

Jul 14 5:40 p.m.

Jet-skiing?


David Porter

to Jennifer Willis

Jul 14 5:41 p.m.

?


Emma Jane Unsworth is the author of the novel Animals (Europa Editions, $17), which she is currently adapting into a screenplay for Sarah Brocklehurst Productions, supported by the British Film Institute. You can buy the book here.

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