Tuesday, 20 November 2018

'TallDarkAnd'

Here we have another story from the excellent anthology Uncertainties III, edited by Lynda E. Rucker. The authors, Julia Rust and David Surface, take as their starting point a classic fictional setup. Eleanor is a (possibly) unattractive young woman whose roommate Rebecca is sexy and glamorous. The names, I suspect, were not chosen at random. Eleanor Lance from The Haunting of Hill House and the first chatelaine of Manderley are present in spirit, I think.

One day Eleanor sneakily takes a look at the dating site Rebecca has been using, via Rebecca's laptop. Able to pose as someone else, Rebecca gets a tremendous thrill and starts to converse with various suitors. When Rebecca returns, Eleanor waits for discovery and the inevitable meltdown. But it seems she has gotten away with splashing around in Rebecca's dating pool.

Eleanor takes to using the laptop to engage in what are romantic but also disturbing, slightly off-kilter online discussions. One guy, using the name TallDarkAnd, tells her she is lovely, desirable. Eleanor, who had a hare lip corrected relatively late in childhood, is convinced her scar makes her repulsive. Or is she? When Rebecca suggests Eleanor create her own online dating profile, she agrees. Soon Eleanor is addicted to weird digital flirting, but then comes a revelation that changes everything.

Another excellent story, shifting from a claustrophobic tale of unequal friendship to something very different.

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