It was an extremely online romance, as many were in 2014: they followed each other on Tumblr, then they became Facebook friends, then they started chatting. James Gamble was 19, aimless and unemployed. Lindsay Souvannarath was 22, with a newly minted degree from a small liberal arts school in Iowa and vague plans to join the Peace Corps.
Over the next seven weeks, Lindsay and James would come to feel that their meeting was part of some great cosmic plan. They were in similar places in their lives: young adults still living with their parents, socially awkward, virgins. They did not spend much time talking about the mundane building blocks of adulthood – school, family, work – in part because those parts of life had felt hostile to both of them for a long time. Instead, they discussed the other things they had in common – how they both walked stiffly and too fast; how as soon as they entered a room, other people could sense that something about them did not quite fit. How they could tell that strangers were afraid of them. How they had grown to like it, in a way, the perverse kind of power that came from being the kind of person everyone else wanted to stay away from.