Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Challenge by Shermaine Williams

Do you fear I’m some sort of dirty old man?


Despite herself, she felt compelled to check her e-mail as soon as she awoke the next day and wasn’t entirely sure about how she felt when she found a message from him, patiently waiting to be opened.

Her conflicted feelings caused her to open the e-mail with some trepidation even though she was eager to do so. She was expecting an answer, not a question, but at least he went on to explain.


Meet me. You can find out for yourself how trustworthy I am.


He went on to provide a link to his website where she could view his work. She didn’t even bother with the pretence that she wasn’t going to look. After clicking the website address, she clasped her hands together tightly and wondered why the new window was taking so long to open.

When it finally did, her heart beat faster as she looked at the images of naked women in various poses. It somehow seemed wrong, she felt bad but not enough to make her stop looking.

She didn’t know exactly what she thought she was going to see, but she certainly wasn’t expecting them to be so...well...beautiful. They were artistic, almost sensual, but she was sure that all the photos were posed by models, as they all looked fantastic.

She could never look like that. That was her mindset and that was exactly what she told him in her reply.

That was that. There was nothing more to say and, as she clicked send, she hoped that was the end of it. The sense of closure she got from sending her final response was very effective and she quickly forgot about the surreal exchange as she went about her day.

She was surprised to find another e-mail from him when she got home that day—couldn’t he take a hint?


After reading your story I never would have thought you such a prude.


Prude? She couldn’t believe what she was reading. This guy—who didn’t even know her—was actually making a judgment about her character. How dare he!


I imagined you threw off your inhibitions to write your wonderful story and mistakenly assumed you were the same in your real life.


It got worse. She was enthralled by the veiled insults and read the words several times over.

How could he be saying these things? It was utterly ridiculous! The short message had her so riled up that there was no internal debate about whether she should reply or not—her fingers flew across the keys as she composed her cutting response, outraged that she had to defend her personality.

Not that she knew why, but she felt the need to assert the fact that she definitely was not a prude. She had to make him aware of that, as if his thinking of her that way would somehow be bad. She was vibrant and open-minded, not some crotchety old woman, so she insisted that this stranger accept what she was telling him.

His reply was almost instantaneous. In fact, she was still seething when it pinged into her inbox.


I nearly believe you. The challenge remains extended—make me believe you.