What Girls Do Online

Mialise Carney




We’re only fifteen but we’ve all lived full lives. Not full lives like working nine-to-five through a hangover or crying after breakup sex in the back of our high school sweethearts Honda. Big lives like Becky505 who’s had cancer three times, or so she says. She posts her old pictures to the forum, and we all log in after school and ooh and aww. Your hair used to be sooo pretty, we write, tracing our sticky fingers over her movie-star curls. We don’t mean to hurt her, we don’t know what else to say. All gone :[, she types, but she never posts any pictures to prove it. It’s a good way to explain why she’s not in school during the day like the rest of us, but we don’t know the real reason yet. Still, we girls mourn, imagine her blood coursing warm with invasion. We kneel by our beds and pray for the cure every night.


xEowynx’s mom doesn’t know she still goes online. She got her laptop taken away after she tried to meet up with a guy from Germany who said he was a hundred and twelve in elvish years but looked more like forty-five. Eowyn shared all the PMs with us, and we coached her on what to say and how to take the right kinds of mirror pics to look young enough to be loved and old enough to be worth the risk. She never got good at makeup, her lipstick a waxy, drugstore red spilling over the delicate edges of her lips, her eyes a bit too wide and fox hungry. She has the longest hair we’ve ever seen, and she says it’s because she wants to be the German guy’s elven queen, but we think her family’s kind of Amish. Either way, she got found out and now can only log on to the forum at her school’s library computer during lunch.


FoxyFernanda999 spends most of her time in the subforum where we trade tips on how not to eat. We created subforums, subdivision, places to get a little more seen, but most of us end up back in jussttt chatttinggg anyway where we’re teaching daizzee03 how to catfish men on omegle. Fernanda being alone and hungry makes us a little sad so we flip between two tabs on our screens. She’s posting about all the food she ate out of the vending machine at lunch, crisp and cheesy, turning her insides to thick sour goo. im soooo weak )’; she types. It’s ok, just try harder tmr, we remind her, because we love her and want her to be happy. We’d want to hear the same. She thanks us by posting a grainy cellphone picture of her pinching her sides and we tell her she’s beautiful even though we don’t believe it.


Morgann<33 says she started cutting herself six months ago. She talks about it like our parents talk about nicotine cravings, like going a day without a drag will turn her rabid. Omg bb, that must be sooo painful D: we say, be safe!! ur beautifull! and ugh, I wish I could but my mom would killll me. When she posts a picture, only two of us see it before a mod takes it down. She gets a seven day ban for graphic imagery, but the girls tell us they looked like cat scratches, like pen marks. Still, we celebrate her return, post balloon gifs and kitten pictures, sigh with relief when she tells us the pain of being away from our ecosystem. She was so lonely and bored like we’re all lonely and bored. We’re the only friends we have—we’d comfort each other to the end of the world.


On Halloween, 0lucky0 says she hurt her stepbrother but we don’t believe her. We’re all into Creepypastas now and Horselvr8’s mom made her see a therapist because she kept seeing a tall, thin man following her on the walk back from grandparent’s home at night. Lucky logs on around when most of our parents are shutting off the internet and posts a yellowed, blurry picture of her short fingers stained rust, nails caked brown like she’d been digging for earthworms.


Eowyn says, omg dont scare me! U know i don’t like horror movies ;__;


Lucky tells us everything, how she planned it, hid a kitchen knife up her sleeve but she didn’t think she’d actually really do it until she did. He’s not moving, wat do I do?? she ends and sends another picture, a grainy outline of a face and a brown puddle on the carpet.


Morgan PMs us—you think she’s for real? Should we tell someone??


We don’t respond right away. What would we say if we told? We don’t know her real name, or where she lives, or if her stepbrother was really actually touching her like she said he was, and if we don’t believe her, why would anybody else? It was never meant to be real.


So we don’t tell, we do what we always do when one of us girls spins up a crisis. We stay up as late as our parents allow us, we comfort Lucky through the night. Its ok!!! u didn’t mean it. he deserved it, right? So its not ur fault. when ur mom comes home just tell her ur really sorry and it was an accident.. she can’t be mad right? If she is, shes crazy.. u didn’t do anything wrong.


When we see her picture, later, on TV, in our mothers’ kitchens and grandmothers’ living rooms, we say nothing, not to ourselves or to each other. We continue posting, comparing, and comforting. We don’t mention her absence, but we craft ourselves softer, more mundane lives. Lucky is just on hiatus, afk, she’ll be back. We girls always find our way back.



MIALISE CARNEY is a writer and MFA candidate at California State University, Fresno. She is the senior fiction editor at The Normal School, and her writing has appeared in Barren Magazine, Okay Donkey, and The Boiler, among others. Read more of her work at mialisecarney.com.