Z

Z,

You’re clever, so I will never send you this letter. I expect you to derive everything I’ve written here from our conversations, and from things I’ve merely implied.

You fall out of love because the more you learn, the more reality diverges from your idealisations. So see me. Really see me, and not just the me you imagined because I’m beautiful. It isn’t what I want. If that is why you like me, then stop.

I find reasons. I am an expert. I hold on to any hint of something illogical or nonsensical or upsetting about you that I can use to make myself stop. Doing so makes me feel like I’m in control of something I am terrified of. Of feeling something and losing myself in it. Of feeling something and being torn to shreds when it doesn’t last. Of feeling anything at all. Because it’s just too easy. It’s easy for me to feel. It takes discipline to think until I’m steady again. Until I’m not falling. But I’ve practiced a long time, so I think I’m quite good. It’s second nature now. I’ve nearly convinced myself of my own invincibility. Do not, do not, try my defenses. Won’t work.

Almost all of our days together have caused an internal battle. I had to remind myself that you’re a monster. That you’re a hunter. The very worst kind, who easily fells prey then leaves it to rot, prancing after the next kill. That you’re recklessly trying to drown in any semblance of a feeling you can muster because you can barely feel things at all. There’s nothing that extinguishes your desire faster than getting what you want. Because, in essence, what you live for is the exquisite split second before winning, but that is all you want.

Forget it. You’ll never catch me. I suspect that will make you hunt me, want me, dream of me forever. Don’t. Just see me, really see me and all those thoughts will die. I’m not as flawless as you’ve imagined. Boring, stubborn, grumpy, never satisfied, sarcastic, jealous, demanding and dominant. Let your image of me fade. I’ve already told you, encore et toujours, in every possible way that I can’t love. Especially not… Especially not you. No. You know I don’t believe in it like you do — you’re a zealot and you give long speeches. I have seen too much to believe. So let go of your misguided wish to be closer to me in every way. Tell your foolish heart to be quiet.  Then we can be friends — really just friends — and learn so much more from each other.

Now that I’ve told you twice, and if you count this time, three times (oh, probably more), I will proceed to ignore you until I think you’ve understood and stopped loving me, you silly child.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

Y

We used to tell each other on bad days, “nevermind, let’s just run away to Hogwarts together.” The attraction to villains started early. Draco was darling, so dating a true sociopath wasn’t unthinkable. Monsters are the sweetest when they care. I guess it’s just that it’s so rare. Nevermind that as well. Makes it even more special.

In the sweltering heat of the southern summer, you’re showing me how to live. I admire your optimism: that even being short on food has a bright side. Because you refuse to compromise your own happiness, you will have actually lived. I’m afraid I’ve let catered lunches and comfortable couches be my soporific, lulling me into a half-existence. Any interesting thought, creative idea or pleasure to pursue has been put just out of reach by the paralytic of a day job.

Thanks to you and the example you’ve set for me, I am slowly waking up. I still think how grand it would be to take off with you into the blue. Where next? South Africa? Belize? London? Reykjavik? Forget success, forget leaving a legacy, forget any glory or honor. If I have a drive, it’s to have enough to just fly off with you like this: today a thought, tomorrow a fact.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

X

Dear X,

We both dispensed with actual numbers long ago. But here are a few of ours.

Days spent together, in total, overall, ever: 5
Times we talked before I knew I liked you: 1
Times we talked before you knew you liked me: 0
Distance (in feet) between our hotel doors: 8
Number of times I thought about you the day after I got home: 57
Number of letters I wrote and sent you: 1
Number of letters I wrote for you that weren’t meant to be read: 4
Months it took me to get over you: 7

You set my mind alight and if life were a novel or a feel-good movie, our stories would’ve merged and continued as one. But you were already where you were meant to be. So you, bright star, are only a footnote in my maudlin tale. And I conclude that there can be no meaning to the words “right” and “wrong” — or at least that my estimation is so off that it’s useless.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

W

My dear W,

It is my triumph that you trust me the way that you do. Why would you tell me the things you have never told anyone else? The parts of your past that still shred your heart and pull you so deeply into them that you feel everything again as if for the first time. It’s a fine line where opposing extremes collide. Maybe you can tell me because I’m nothing, no one, not-important. Maybe it’s something else…

The list of roles I’ll never play in your life doesn’t make me sad.

I’m over the moon, really, that I get to be just one: friend.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

V

Dear V,

I saw you twice a week at chorus, and that was all. We went to different schools, lived in different neighborhoods, and even within chorus — though you stood right next to me — had different friend groups. Your stratum in society was so much higher than mine that I was dizzy just thinking about it. My admiration of you was an obsession with the most irrelevant details. I knew so little that those details were my pets.

Here are a few. Your nail beds were naturally long and graceful — a manicurist’s fantasy. The opposite of a nail-biter’s nubbins. I still self-consciously nudge back the flesh of my cuticles to emulate them. You had been in chorus since you were tiny, and so you had the uniform polo to prove it. You never got a larger one as you grew. It fit tight and short, unlike the larger shapeless shirts for the rest of us who joined later and were given adult sizes. A boy at your day school named Luke gave you a fistful of flowers once. That was the only time you seemed sentimental. You never spoke of him before that or again.

Later I tried 3 times to be your friend on Facebook. Denied each time. But I am still drawn to you. Terrifying and unfathomable. A body of victory with the head of a tiger. Edwardian eyes and the darkest sarcasm. I’ll never know whether I like you or want to be you.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

U

Dear U,

The first week of school, I lingered in the halls of your fairy castle dorm that I had so desperately wanted to live in. I read names scrawled on construction paper signs. Each door had four. Lucky, lucky, lucky, oh. Your name was so unusual ~ a literary character ~ that I liked you the moment I read it.

We met three times, maybe fewer and you could never look at me. That made no sense. From a distance, you were always rowdy, always joking, laughing, bright. With me, I guess your shoes were much more interesting. Your friends asked me once “do you fancy him?” Ah, of course. “Of course,” I said, brazen smile blazing, “who doesn’t?” And that is how my enthusiastic yes was parlayed into a sarcastic no.

There was never a good way to say these things to a boy who couldn’t look at me. But it was a yes, a yes, a yes-oh-yes sort of yes. So much so that I gave you the highest honor my childish heart could give: I named my snowboard after you. Every trip, I’d imagine you carving down the mountain right behind me and smile.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

T

Begin enumerate.
One dark curl falling errantly.
Two grey eyes, oh-so-alien.
Perhaps three buttons undone down the front of an gaspingly tight aubergine shirt.
Four, four, for… ah, forgive this mathematician who will just advance to n.

A million fans or more adore adore, adore.

Is there a single thing I can say to you that hasn’t been said before?

I’ll tell you a story then. I was once asked about my wildest fantasy. “My wildest fantasy?” I repeated, eyes alight with joy, “Oh, my wildest fantasy is that I have a dragon. And I’d fly around on his back and he would set my enemies on fire.”

Weren’t you recently a dragon? Sounds like we were meant to be.

So come to me and let’s fly, let’s fly away.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)