Sandy's life would be considered wasted to most, filled with the nothingness of unshowered days sprinkled with Lays and the ever-present glow of the Internet. The computer was just about her only escape from her apartment, even the blinds were closed to the happenings outside. She suffered no disablement, no horrible disfigurement that would cause others to inhale sharply and look away. The scars that marred her were viewable only to the few who got too close. Those she lured in with cherry lips, innocent giggles and breathy seductions over the telephone. Like some kind of spider she trapped you in her web and quickly disposed of you. Any tear you left in her web as you struggled for life was left to show others how horrible she'd been treated.

In her youth she'd been a temptress, auburn curls bouncing on delicate collar bones and sultry eyes trimmed with smokey mascara. Her energy was limitless, she drew people to her like some bright shiny star. Then the secret pill she'd been swallowing was banned by the government; it had been found to cause heart problems and weaken muscles in the aorta. Her eyes became puffy and swollen, her delicate frame hidden from view and her hair dulled. But still her eyes sparkled. Still she had a winning smile that drew people to her.

When something's so bright that it draws people from around the world to admire it, it's bound to burn a few moths.

Sandy suffered some internal break down, some weakening of spirit that caused her to lash out at those around her. Perhaps it was just an insecurity about the loss of her physical beauty that started it, whatever it was she began withdrawing from the real world. Her friends abandoned or held at fingertips length, she drew close to her those she could manipulate. Those who would believe she was a 17 year-old blonde cheerleader, a 42 year-old therapist with pent up passions or some other fantasy she wished to act out.

Slowly even the sparkle in her eyes began to dim. As though the last part of her original spirit had been hidden even from herself. Her days became routine. Sleep till 2pm. Eat leftovers while watching CourtTv and listening to the chime of her clamshell as it slowly came to life. Climb back into bed for a nap at 5pm. Stay in bed with the lights out, only the soft glow of the clamshell illuminating her eyes. Then around 5am she'd close the lid on her laptop and slide down into sheets that reeked of sweat and sex and she'd fall asleep. Every day was the same except for the rare occasion someone could get her outside; a family member or a friend who struggled to stay in her life.

Like the spider Sandy fed off others. Those who had managed to stay friends with her were allowed their victory because they reminded her of the beauty and popularity she had in her youth. Constant reminders of the sexuality she once permeated, the endless partners her bed had once seen, their trips-down-memory-lane served a purpose they didn't immediately recognize. Those she met online helped recapture the heady feelings she had in those older days. She was very careful about what was said to her internet friends and lovers, very careful about what images of her were uploaded to the the Web. She controlled the horizontal and the vertical, you saw what she wanted you to see. The attention paid to her was ambrosia, it gave her immense power over others.

Each year was the same. She would have an illicit affair, often with a married person because being able to take someone away from another -even if it only happened virtually- made her feel important. She would flaunt herself at men and women alike, because attention was attention and it was the power she sought not the true affection. She would manipulate those around her and if they didn't do exactly what she wanted she would bring down her wrath like some god, twisting them until they withered and died or simply limped away. If one of her victims fought back she'd use her friendship against them. Lies spewed forth from her lips, spinning tales of backstabbing and scheming, forming a cocoon of doubt around shared friends. Until they weren't sure who was telling the truth, knowing they wouldn't leave her because she needed them.

And at the end of each year, when she'd lost one or two people along the way, she'd whimper and cry. Play the victim. Throw her fists against her pillows and vow never again to be taken advantage of by another. She'd resolve to better herself, make herself stronger, never let herself be used again and to do something good for humanity while she was at it.

This year she tacked on something new:
to do something brave every day, even if it's just going for a walk
The resolution was so fake you could almost hear the voice of a child who'd been horribly scarred by a fire saying the sentence. Not the twenty four year-old college drop-out who had suddenly woken up a recluse one day. For a fully functioning adult to consider a walk that probably would consist of half a city block brave you'd at least expect severe psychological damage. But Sandy couldn't even claim that much.

She can only claim one friend from her high school days anymore. The rest consist of brief encounters on the web, not including the family she's attached herself to. A wife, a husband and their two children. The happy family that deep down she fears she'll never have. Even her family is estranged from her at the moment.

Sandy's resolution was well chosen. At the rate she was going she would have no one she could confidently label a friend by next Christmas. Her family would socialize with her only when politeness deemed it necessary. The only interaction she would have left with others would be through the laptop or over the phone when she ordered a pizza. She would need bravery then. When the world finally gave up trying to reach the sparkle she'd hidden away.

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