They'd known each other for a few years but had only ever met once. She lived on the planet called XQ12, he lived on the planet on the other side of the vortex rim. She knew his people called it Ke, but for her people, it had always been XQ23.
Falling in love with him had, for Shenana, a rather easy thing. She had followed his posts on the grid for some time, noting his easy and gentle manner under the words, his affectations and mannerisms of text-speak and identifying with them far too much really.
Eventually, Shenana and Kill crossed from text-speak over to the Access ports on the grid super-bypass. Shenana had had to upgrade all her in home systems to do it but she was determined to put the magnetic deflector dishes in so as to get Kill into her life on a more personal level. She was a determined woman anyway. No one ever told Shenana what couldn't be done unless she decided it so. Kill found her inexorably sweet and never once doubted her steely will under the cloying, sometimes annoying, cloak of self-deprecation.
The day of their first voice meeting was a sloppy, tangled affair of shouting "Are you there's?" in staccato on virgin microwaves. Like ungainly puppies pawing a new toy, the two grid lovers shyly progressed into innuendo's that only lovers tolerate. Shenana oggled and played with Kill's mind, teasing and turning him on with her witty repoirtee. Kill in turn, minced and wriggled his way out of any manipulations on Shenana's part, whether she intended them or not, refusing to commit to anything beyond gridflirt. They got to know each other. Or, so Shenana thought. Kill appeared to know Shenana very well having imbibed her style of text-speak and voice patterns to the point where he knew exactly how to press the buttons that would calm or stew her.
It was Midturn when Shenana got it into her head some 19 sectors after their first introductions on the grid, to buy herself a ticket to travel the rim to see Kill in person. They discussed in detail the expectations of their first meeting, eventually coming to the mutual conclusion it would be best to "just see" what happened with no expectations or forced outcomes either way. Shenana was so in love she believed only the very best thing was possible anyway and Kill was more than ambivalent, preferring to see how things would pan out. He was always the pragmatic one. Shenana climbed aboard her shuttle and felt the gentle pang of exhilaration in the freedom of being able to travel for the entire 38 Sixtes to the man she believed to be the love of her life... to that point.
The void was a beautiful thing to watch as she was whisked around its rim. One day everything would eventually eke one six too much and the void would obliterate the lot in one giant gulp. Many's the shuttle that had disappeared into that unknown space before. She trusted these pilots to keep her shuttle on the rim for her emphatic will could not allow otherwise. She would visit Kill or die, physically or metaphorically.
When they finally did meet face to face, they were pleasantly surprised by sizes and shapes and colours and movements. She was smaller than he'd pictured in his mind. He was thinner than she imagined possible in a male. She was more gangly and ungraceful in her mannerisms than he'd imagined. He was more deliberative and stoic than she had come to believe. Their voices and words had spun webs of intriguing mystery and unintentional lies. They were so very much in love.
Shenana welcomed Kill into her body and soul. She made a nest for him deep in her heart and believed him to be the essence of her other self she had lost in time before the void. Her logical self constantly debated the merits of this love. They were so different, she and Kill. Both of them were so obviously opposites, their planetary position on the Rim notwithstanding.
Kill was sweet, kind, more or less attentive. But, they knew each other so well, it was like being with the other slipper and no extra parsecs were taken in order to create early romantic impressions. Both of them were pretty much exactly as they believed they were supposed to be after knowing someone for more than 24 sectors. Shenana had been trying to learn the language of Ke with only vague success. She travelled a little in the immediate vicinity of Kills residence but never really wanted to venture too far from him. She felt safe, secure and deeply and impossibly right at his home. It was as if she had once lived there before and memory was being jogged back into life again after a long sub-sleep.
One sector later, and the lovely Shenana, glowing with the fullness of love in her body and soul caught her shuttle home. Kill waved her off at the platform without so much as a tear. He merely smiled and waved. The deep cave of loneliness in Shenana's heart grew as weighty as the void itself the closer she got to her own home.
Reconnecting with Kill over the grid seemed both normal and now cruel. It was like she was with a different man. There was knowledge where imagination had once fueled the gaps. The language was different. The modes of reaction and action seemed charged and strained with some unknown energy. A shift in the fabric of their affair grew seismic. Shenana caved. Her emotional state became erratic and disabled. They fought now, mostly in text, voice seemed to full of something wrong.
For Shenana, the more distance she felt between her and her lover, the more she fought to retain whatever shreds of connection remained. She was determined to never ever allow this love to die. The love she bore in her every cell for this man on another planet became engorged with even more love. In a frightening way, even unto herself, Shenana became increasingly desperate to own him, to have him to be with him. No other man could match Kill in her mind and she determined that no one would. It was Kill or no one.
For Kill, he'd fallen in love but for now, it wasn't going to work. He moved on. He dated other women, some lovely, some very not so lovely. Shenana was special, but she was on another planet. She wasn't his. He did not want to own her even as much as she wanted to be owned by him. He refused. He tolerated her outbursts and dramatic tirades in text-speak until they wore him down. He preferred peaceful women really. As sweet and as wonderful as Shenana was, she wasn't really his type in the end. Pragmatically, Kill sort of kept Shenana as a back-up plan just in case the woman he really wanted never showed.
Eventually, Kill distanced himself more and more from Shenana. They were communicating regularly but gradually the sixes became longer in between talks, and they were curter, more refrained. Much was not being said. Much was being kept hidden and yet known it was available if any one of them had been game enough to call it for what it was.
Shenana would cry in the evenings on her side of the Rim wanting Kill beside her so badly she would have screamed for the pain of his loss. She never knew how Kill felt about her because he would not say. He remained firmly non-committal and inclined to just wait and see.
Shenana died and kept on living on her side of the Rim doing what she was expected to do. She rarely heard from Kill for the next 24 sectors. They remained strangers even when they knew each other so well.