I made a new email to be professional—obviously I couldn’t go around applying for jobs as , and my cousin wasn’t going to keep paying for that domain name anyway. So I picked something regular. I tried my first initial + last name as my username, but bholman was taken. So then I put my first two initials, and presto, I became blholman, employable person.
The lady who had bholman was Barbara Holman of Atlanta, Georgia, whereas I’m Bailey Leanne Holman of Foote, South Carolina. She seemed like a really together person—there were articles about her charity work and a picture of her getting a Women in Leadership award. I also found her Amazon reviews. (She loved her new air fryer but was underwhelmed by Gone Girl.)
None of that would have mattered, except sometimes I email myself. Lists, reminders, whatever. I know I could use some kind of organization app, but this method works better for me. So one day I accidentally emailed bholman a link to a leprechaun mask I wanted to buy—it’s easy to forget that l. She wrote back, “I believe you sent this to the wrong person.” So I wrote, “Oh, wow, we have almost the same username! Sorry.”
She didn’t answer. Not that she needed to, but if the roles were reversed, I’d have had a sense of humor about the whole thing. I’d say, “Lol, weird! So, how’s things where you are, Other Me?” But bholman only sent the most basic replies whenever I accidentally emailed her, which, okay, was a lot.
The last thing I sent her was an article about the furry community, which I couldn’t read at work. (I’d gotten a job at the trampoline park by then.) When I realized what I’d done, I immediately apologized. Because I understand that no one wants an article about furries from a stranger. But my message bounced. I checked my recent contacts and bholman didn’t show up, meaning she’d blocked me.
Well, I couldn’t blame her, right? After sending her all kinds of random crap, I’d sent this seemingly sketchy article, even if it was from a well-respected national magazine. So she blocked me. Big deal.
But I kept thinking about it, and it got to me. I could barely even focus while this angry mom complained to me about her kid’s retainer getting stolen from one of the cubbies. It’s not like I sent bholman a death threat. I sent her an article that she actually might have found enlightening, if she cared about the human condition. And here she was treating me like a creep.
I looked her up again after work. That’s when I saw where her house was going to be part of this Tour of Historic Homes. Like, her house was so fancy that people paid money to look at it.
I wasn’t going to try and meet bholman—I have some sense. But the tour price included brunch with red velvet waffles, and I freaking love red velvet waffles. And Atlanta’s only two hours. I mean, it would have been one thing if I drove a super long distance to the town where she happened to live. But it was two hours away, like I said, and there’s a lot to do in Atlanta, not like Foote, which only has four trampoline parks and a mall that’s half vacant. So the tour thing sounded kind of fun.
Her house had a historical marker letting you know the state comptroller from a hundred years ago once lived there. Her porch was covered in folk art shit—wind chimes made of flattened spoons; a giant frog made of cans.
I found bholman in the kitchen, telling people about her crown molding.
“Hello, Barbara,” I said. I don’t know why I suddenly did a British accent, but I did.
She looked a little confused, but she smiled and held out a plastic champagne flute.
“Mimosa?” she said.
Like I said, I hadn’t gone there to meet her. But okay, maybe I’d thought about what I might say if I did. Like, I could just as well have been a Woman Leader, bholman. I was in nursing school, back when I lived with Grandma, but then she kept leaving potholders to catch fire on the stove and running outside in her bra and slip. So I had to withdraw, to look after her. And when I tried to go back after she died it was too hard to catch up. Maybe I’m not the kind of person who can put trash on her porch and call it art. Maybe I’m only a weekend manager at the third-best trampoline park in my town. But that doesn’t mean you can disregard me. But I didn’t say any of that.
Instead, I took my drink outside. And then, without thinking, I climbed up on the railing, grabbed the wind chimes, and stuffed them in my backpack. I ran down the street yelling, “I’ve got your spoons, bitch! I’ve got your fucking spoons!”
I’m sure she has one of those doorbell cameras or whatever, and she’s probably given the police a bunch of blurry pictures of me. But I didn’t worry about it too much once I was safe at home, eating leftover red velvet waffles. My new wind chimes look nice in my kitchen, even if there’s no wind.
Katie Burgess lives in South Carolina. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Smokelong Quarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Wind on the Moon, is available from Sundress Publications. Read more at katieburgess.fun.