It was a tale as old as time--or at least, as old as internet chat rooms.
Delaney knew that finding love online was not often a good idea, but it wasn't like she went looking for it. Chance was hanging around the same digital space when she first joined, and the match in their energy together was off the charts. She had been thrilled to discover someone else who knew how to enjoy conversation, both in the silliness and in the depths she so dearly loved to explore.
Chance was so much more vibrant than most people dared to be online. Where other people invested half their energy into a carefully cultivated mask, Chance was always himself, everywhere he went. He couldn't help it, it seemed. Delaney was drawn to the authenticity, no matter how much her natural caution tried to warn her.
They talked about anything and everything, not holding back, for three months. It felt more like a year to Delaney, for how many topics they dove into. Chance was fearless, no matter how murky the waters, and Delaney relished not having to slow down or resurface as she so often had to do with others. For once, she was the one having to keep pace with his relentless thirst to know everything. It was never cerebral for them, it was an immersion into as much of reality as they could discover.
She knew she loved him by the first month, but managed to hold it in for another three weeks. And then it burst from Chance first, and she rushed to meet him in the improbable, inconvenient, wonderful, awful truth of it. They dove towards each other, plumbed the depths and held their breath, watched the bubbles float to the surface as the brief hours they were both online continued.
For the rest of that happy year, Delaney and Chance found out just how much delight they had in each other. They realized how well they navigated brief misunderstandings and differences in conviction. They traveled concepts, friendships, soul aches, visions, tales they would never tell anyone else; they knew they traveled well together in all these and more.
There was just one problem.
Half the very real globe stood between them.
Tale as old as internet love.
The pressure of lives they couldn't drop, the weight of worlds so far apart, the burning need for oxygen that would only be felt in the real presence of each other-- it all became too much for the digital space where they met.
Delaney couldn't say it. Chance saved her from having to. They disentangled the places where hearts had entwined so joyously, embracing the pain as they had embraced the pleasure, holding each other through the divergent moment as long as it was possible.
And then it was over. A treasured memory that never quite faded, always friends and always dear, but always an impossible dream.
It was real.
It just didn't work.