Everything you read here is fiction. The names of real people here are just coincidental. However, I must point out that I'm writing this to let out the grief in my heart. My recent breakup inspired this, and as of now I don't even know the direction I'll be able to take it. I hope you enjoy.

Chapter One: The Price of Secrecy.

Joseph had a rough life. Ever since he was a young boy, he had trouble blending in with people. Not only that, but he grew up mostly with his mother. His father abandoned them when he was only 12 years of age, so he lacked the knowledge and strength of what a man "should be." Nevertheless, his mother was around whenever she could and wasn't working. She tried her best to make things work, and Joseph would accept anything as long as it was from the heart.

Joseph was not always happy, however. School life was always cruel. He was often the target of bullies for being one of the smartest children in class. Middle school was not any easier, and that was the time a lot of the kids would either join a gang or claim to be a part of a gang. The young Joseph, like some of the other students, preferred to be quiet and focus on his studies. He managed to stay away from gangs, and before he knew it, his two years of middle school were gone.

The one constant with Joseph was the subject of love. He always wondered if anyone liked him, but never had the courage to ask a girl out. He always decided to get to know a girl first, either directly or indirectly. And his luck? The girls he met usually had a boyfriend already. He soon learned that if he did not expose his heart while talking to a girl, he could figure out that tiny detail sooner or later. He had no experience with love, and wouldn't ask his mother about it. Joseph's mother had given up on finding someone new after her husband's betrayal and made it clear she believed she was not meant to be with anyone. And with young Joseph inexperienced, there was nothing he could say to comfort her.

Joseph, seeing that no girl would like him in school anyway, decided to turn to the world of the Internet. Back in his day, webcams were fairly new, so he could not afford one. He was fortunate enough to find a computer room at his old elementary school where anyone was welcome, and decided to make his life on the Internet. He would visit forums, take quizzes to share with his friends, and even take part in debates that were hot at the time. He knew that if he showed this to people he knew, they would laugh at him. So Joseph decided to keep this part of his life secret. A double life, if you will.

It was on the year he turned 16 when he met someone. "Lucy." He would repeat her name to himself. They started out as friends, but after a long time of absence, Lucy saw that she would miss Joseph and his words while she was gone. She ended up confessing her feelings to him the following year and he, despite the hardships he knew would come, accepted her confession and started talking to her more frequently. They came to know a lot about each other and while the distance was always an issue, they both persevered in love.

Later that year, Joseph was curious enough to pick up a Bible while reading a series of Christian novels. Wondering what the fuss was about, he started with the first book of the New Testament. "Matthew." Joseph liked some of the parables Jesus told, but he also felt condemned when he read passages about sin. Some of the things he had done, according to the book, were sinful. Joseph felt something he never felt before in his life: a sense of purpose. If God placed individuals on this Earth, then surely they were meant to do something. He prayed. "Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and that You rose from the dead. I will trust in You. In Your name I pray. Amen." He said what he could. Joseph tried to memorize the prayer from the novels he read and soon believed that he was saved.

Tragedy, however, was not far behind.

Joseph told Lucy of what he believed in. She was happy for him because he was happy. She was a Wiccan, but neither person would let their differences get in the way of their relationship. They were happy, and that was enough.

But Lucy's time was running out. She had gone to the doctor on February of 2008, and after her visit she told Joseph the results. "I have cancer." Joseph, barely at the ripe age of 17, was devastated. With his poor background, being away from Lucy without having a way to reach her was torture for him. All they had for the next couple of months was the forum they would frequent. And even that proved to be difficult. Lucy was having black outs, and the last one was so strong she had to be rushed to the hospital. She never left the building.

"Dear God," Joseph would pray, "If you let her live, I promise I won't sin anymore. Please save her!"

But on April 25th of the same year, one week after Joseph lost contact with Lucy, her brother dropped the bomb on him. "I don't know how to say this without hurting you, so I'll just go ahead and say it. Lucy is dead."

Joseph was in school that morning but he managed to access the school library before his first class. He was devastated. "She never told me what kind of cancer it was." He typed in his tears. "Do you know?"

"It was brain cancer." Her brother said. "She never told you because she didn't want you to worry. I'm sorry."

Joseph was inconsolable for years. The days were quiet sometimes, but there were times he would break down and cry for Lucy. They planned a future together, shared same interests, and even had the names of their children picked out. Basically, he planned his entire life with her for when he could finally fly to her home state of Oregon.

He had kept the relationship secret from his mother until one night when he broke out in front of her. Joseph told his mother how much he loved Lucy and how he wasn't going to see it again.

His mother's response was less than empathetic. "Why did you jump on a relationship online? Don't you know what's dangerous?!"

Joseph knew the dangers of online dating, but he felt too connected to care. "I loved her."

"But it's still dangerous or could have been a big prank she was playing on you." She sighed. "Look. If it was actually real, then this just means her time here on Earth was up. It wasn't meant to be."

Joseph wiped his tears after hearing his mother rant for a good five minutes. He knew his mother was stubborn enough to not change opinion so easily. He knew that going back and forth would only be a waste of time. "I understand." His mother left the room. Joseph understood what she meant, but the way she handled this made him never want to tell her any more secrets. He continued his double life online, being true to himself there while hiding it all from his mother.

His biggest worry for the longest time was that Lucy could be in Hell. The only consolation he ha was the she loosely believed in God, she told him once. But nevertheless, he prayed for God's mercy for a long time. Every night, he prayed for mercy on her. "Did she truly believe? Or...?"

No matter who else he met, nothing would compare to the love Joseph felt for Lucy. That is, one fateful night when he met a girl named Michelle online, seven years later.

To be continued...