By the time Moricz had entered the picture, certain patterns had begun to emerge. My parents suspected that something was not right, that I was spending too much time by myself, especially on the internet. This, of course, was true, but I dreaded any kind of intervention, and so I began to lie. At the time that this all began, I was still friends with this one girl I knew from middle school, Emily. Emily had problems of her own: she was emotionally unstable, her parents were basically never around, she was absolutely boy crazy. Still, for years she remained my friend, partially because I had no other options and neither did she. (Though Emily, unlike myself, always tried to break into other social circles.)
When the Capriol saga had begun to unfold, things between me and Emily had soured - she suspected that a boy she had a crush on had a crush on me, which was not true, but the suspicion was strong enough to create tension. We stopped talking. This occurred throughout all of December through January of 2009. My mother, used to Emily coming home with me from school every so often, began to become suspicious. When I would spend hours a day on the computer, she would often gently suggest that I give Emily a call, a suggestion which was always met with some kind of excuse, usually "I'm doing homework right now." (I was not doing homework.)
I believed at the time that being in love was a huge secret, to be kept clandestine under all circumstances. This may have been true in the 19th century when the class system was much more rigidly enforced, but it certainly was not true in a suburban high school circa 2009. Still, as a teenager I felt that feelings of intimacy must be guarded with the utmost rigor. I began to talk about my "friend" Liam, to throw my mother off of her suspicions that I had cut myself off from the world. As an adult, I understand that what I was doing was not healthy, and my mother was doing what all mothers do, that is, tending to the health of their children, both physical and mental. My mother at this point had given me one of those pay-by-the-minute flip phones for use in calling home when out with friends or on field trips. When I sensed that my mother's inquiries were getting too close for comfort, I would go into the settings menu of the flip phone and "click" on the ringtone I had selected (the opening of Mozart's 25th symphony) triggering it's playback. I would then proceed to "have a conversation" with Liam, usually as brief as possible.
"Liam!" I would shout. "Don't you know not to call me here? I'll run out of minutes. Look, just shoot me an email later, ok?"
These "conversations" were so short that it was my hope in the beginning that they would not be substantial enough to bill to the account. I knew that the phone linked to my mother's debit card. My worry about the billing was quickly replaced by a different concern: if the minutes never depleted despite all of this conspicuous "talking," my mother would most certainly get suspicious. (In retrospect, this fear was based in paranoia rather than reality; my mother was not particularly intrusive, and this kind of minutiae would have certainly been lost on her.) I quickly developed a new plan.
Shortly after Liam "called," I would dial the number of the local Michael's Craft store, which I knew (from overhearing my mother's particularly thorny customer service experience with them a few weeks prior), had quite a lengthy robocall menu. I would let the phone linger in the menu just long enough to mimic the length of the false Liam call, and then hang up.In order to not arouse suspicions, I would pepper the Michael's calls with calls I would make to Emily's house, cloaking my number with *69 so she could not tell who was calling - these calls usually went to voicemail, taking just long enough to trigger the billing of minutes. I perfected this technique after rummaging through the family mail to find the cell phone bill. I noticed that, when the phone company billed my mother, it did not disclose the full numbers I was calling, only the last four digits and how long I was on the call in order to bill the minutes.