The thoughts and work of Sam Witt

The Girl in My Inbox

A woman looks down at the sea.

There’s a girl who lives in my inbox. She hasn’t always been there, but over the past few weeks, she’s moved herself into my life one secret at a time. She tells me things I imagine no one else knows, things that she may not even know herself.

I know more about her than I know about people I see every day, but she knows nothing about me. Because of a mistake she makes, over and over and over again, she’s filled my inbox with a record of her life.

She spends a lot of time drinking in London.

She think she’s fat.

She’s conflicted about her love life, using hook-up apps for casual flings with women, but dating sites to try and find men for long-term relationships.

She doesn’t know her own email address, because she uses mine to sign herself up for all the things that tell me about her life.

I imagine her sitting in front of her computer, stuffing digital messages into electronic bottles and tossing them out on the Internet tides. She waits for someone to find her isolated island, but no one ever comes.

The bottles pile up in my inbox, bobbing up through the surf of my own emails,

little reminders that the world is out there, that people I don’t and never will know are struggling in their attempts to carve a life out of the modern wilderness.I watch this young woman go through this cycle, signing up for exercise plans, signing up for porn sites, trying to find someone to love (even if only for the night), then signing up to talk to an online therapist, then a few days later she’s back to signing up for exercise plans.

I wonder about her, going through this spiral of self-loathing, yearning, seeking help, and know that the feedback loop is incomplete, that she never sees any results from her efforts, because they’re all coming to me.

Not so long ago, I wanted her to stop intruding in my life, to stay the hell out of my inbox. I cancelled every newsletter she signed up to, changed passwords on sites she set up using my email address. She was a stranger and here she was inserting myself into my day without so much as an introduction. I wanted her to go away.

But as time has passed, and I watch her struggle from a distance, I can’t help but wonder what it will mean when the messages stop and all that remains in my inbox is her ghost.

About Sam

I am the author of the popular Pitchfork County series of horror novels. I also write a newsletter with great reading suggestions and free fiction.