Character Building

It’s that weird mid-semester slump where we’ve all finished our round 1 stories and are beginning to brainstorm ideas for our second (and hopefully a little longer, around 20 pages or so) round of stories.

To that effect, this week (for class on Wednesday) our Creative Writing teacher has asked us to pinpoint a weakness that we found in our workshops from our first stories and write a piece focusing on improving that one aspect of our writing.

To be more specific, one of my weaknesses was that I don’t follow the “Show, don’t tell” rule of writing and try to tell my readers what is happening rather than show them. So I’m going to try to write something that avoids that creative writing blunder.

How, I’m not sure, but let’s see how it goes. Nabila, you wanted me to keep you updated, so there you go. Find a specific aspect of your writing you want to improve on, and then write a piece where you try to improve on it. It’d be cool to later blog about how that whole process went for you if you’d like.

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Arranged

Arranged

I have found that there aren’t many easy ways to explain arranged marriage to my friends. When I first mentioned it, they looked at me sympathetically and told me things like “Oh, but you always have a choice” or “But you’re only 23” as if these thoughts hadn’t gone through my head already. Then, they gave me sympathetic looks and told me “We’re always here for you if you need to talk” and “I can’t believe you’re going through with this” as the date of my wedding to Jay got closer and closer.

I’m not alone, and my story is not too unique. Instead of being told who to marry, now our parents tell us who to meet. They tell us who to go out to dinner with, and who to talk to. They tell us who is eligible and around our age. They nudge us into similar social situations and hope that something will click. They call relatives in India and ask if they know of any nice, eligible boys for their daughter in hushed voices so they won’t be overheard. And while they are doing all of that, they tell us in simpering sweet tones that they are just doing what is best for us and would we please stop teaching them how to be parents.
July 23, 2011 –

“Hey, it’s nice to meet you.” I said to the guy as he sat across from me at the café.

“I’m Jay.”

“Yeah. Hi. What’s up?”

“Trust me, this is weird for me too.”

“Oh. Yeah, it’s nice to meet you anyways. So how do our parents know each other?”

“High School. I think. Doesn’t really matter I guess. What would you like to drink?”

“I’ll take an iced coffee. Love the smell, can’t stand the taste. Of hot coffee, I mean.”

“I’m basically addicted to coffee so as long as you don’t mind the smell, we’re cool.”

I smiled a little and felt some tension leaving my body. He didn’t have an Indian accent! But he was going to have to be pretty amazing to cheer me up, because my argument with Dan earlier today had been devastating. I had nothing to say to him when he ended our relationship because he was tired of waiting. I would have been tired of waiting too, if I had been in his place and had to keep everything a secret for so long. We couldn’t have a “proper” romance, he couldn’t meet my parents and promise my dad he wouldn’t bring me home too late. There were just too many pieces missing in our puzzle, and I understood that, but when we hung up the phone, I was crying anyway.

“I’m sorry, this is really weird for me,” Jay said.

“You said that already,” I said, and snapped out of my thoughts – they were leading me to unhappy places.

“Right,” he said.

The waiter came to our table and he ordered two coffees, one iced with milk and sugar. He looked over quickly at me while placing the order, but before he could affirm, I nodded and said, “Yeah, milk and sugar please.”

This wasn’t a date, because Indians don’t date. At least, the good ones don’t. There is no word for “boyfriend” in Hindi. I told my mother that Jay and I were going to talk to each other and get coffee, and she agreed enthusiastically. Probably because the plan to meet over coffee had been the combined idea of our mothers anyway. As I had been getting dressed, my mother had said, “Have a nice time with him. Try to get to know him. He’s a really nice boy, beta.” She only used terms of endearment when she knew I was going to hate what came after, and this was one thing that I was really and truly dreading.

They still never called it a date. It wasn’t a date. We were just getting to “understand” each other, as my dad told me before handing me the car keys.

The coffees came, and his mug of coffee had one of those pretty leafy designs swirled into the froth on top. Maybe it was a latte?

I spent the next hour getting to know him as I had been instructed. It was even more weird than all of the mandatory icebreaker games I had played at club meetings in the beginning of my Fall semesters at college.

August 12, 2011 –

“FINE Ma, I’ll do it”

And just like that, I sealed my fate. To Jay Chopra. There was silence around the table because my parents knew better than to act excited. Maybe they were relieved, and they were probably at least a little bit guilty. What could they possibly say to their daughter after she’s agreed to an arranged marriage? My mother got up to call his parents and invite them over for dinner. She had the decency to do that in the other room.

If Dan had been Indian, I think I could have loved him. I could have pretended to meet him for the first time and gone for coffee. I could have invited his family over to my house and cooked an amazing Indian dinner to impress them.

As it is, I cooked for Jay, his parents, his older sister and her husband tonight. My mother oversaw the whole affair and I kept my tears to myself the entire night. If Jay could tell I was upset, he kept it to himself and the two of us played at acting like we were happy.

Our tikka (tick-a) ceremony was completed that night. My mom procured gifts for the family out of thin air and just like that, I was off the market. I felt pathetic – I had only lasted three weeks.

August 20, 2011

The reality was sinking in, and the nights were getting chilly. Jay and I met each other for the first time exactly one month ago. I wasn’t happy, but my upbringing was forcing me to think optimistically. The rationalizations were killing me but they were better than the burning frustration the rebellious thoughts came with.

They wanted what was best for me. He was good. He grew up here, didn’t have an accent. We had both fucked somebody else already.

The mental list in my head was trying its best to expand. Reasons why Jay and I getting married might not be so bad.

I laughed as I thought about how it took me only 21 days to meet and agree to marry Jay. Just three weeks. My laughter was hollow as I contemplated just how defeated and desperate I must have felt to say yes to arranged marriage and give up a chance at love. “You’ll grow to love him. It’s better that way,” my mom told me, but growing up in America, I simply couldn’t believe that. There was just no way.

My parents’ marriage was arranged. All of their siblings entered arranged marriages too. Stepping down to my own generation, many of my older cousins had married the people they met through family. I had grown up thinking I would break that expectation, smash the tradition and meet the man of my dreams. He would sweep me away and family be damned, I’d marry somebody I loved with all of my heart.

But then, my parents asked me if I would marry Jay and I thought about life without any of my family. That’s why I said yes. It wasn’t because I thought we would make a good couple, but I knew that marrying Jay would mean that I would get to keep the rest of my family, and I loved them more than I loved my own heart’s desires.

Their timing was impeccable. I was vulnerable, bitter, and jaded. I felt like I could blame my parents if our marriage failed. It added a layer of defense, and I ensconced myself in thoughts like these and tried to tell myself that everything would be their fault.

September 3, 2011

Today was supposed to be a really exciting day – it was our engagement. Our mangni (mung-knee). I was dolled up in a new outfit, one of the twenty new ones we had picked out and had custom-tailored for my wedding. This one – a lengha – was an elaborate affair of teals and purples, my two favorite colors combined. There was gold needlework all along the blouse and the long, flowing skirt had splashes of gold-rimmed mirrors sewn onto an elaborate arrangement of flowing layers of teal and purple material.

The excitement of the wedding was getting to me – I had grown up enjoying so many of them, although this one was dampened by my perspective of being on the other side. I couldn’t help but think back to the engagements of my past, where I had dressed up, whirled around the dance floor all night, and enjoyed the buffet and Indian music. They really were joyous occasions, and as engagements go, this was supposed to be the ultimate one. It was my own engagement and I was surrounded by happy friends and overjoyed family and the pure joy on their faces overruled my heart’s doubts for tonight. I was glowing like a bride-to-be and swept away along with their visions of my perfect wedding.
I was starting to warm up to the idea and Jay and I were making the most of it. Having spent practically every single day since we met with him somehow, we were really getting to “understand” each other. We got along, and he helped me plan out all of the little details of our rushed wedding, which is more than I can say for some star-crossed lovers. We had a mutual understanding developing – I can see why my parents had phrased it that way now. He tolerated my friends, and I tolerated his, though the two circles hadn’t really meshed together yet. No matter, after our mangni, we had many more weeks of festivities before our wedding.

I hadn’t touched alcohol since we were promised to one another, because Jay didn’t like it. I also didn’t want to risk the entire house falling apart if he mentioned it to my parents or it came up in an argument. There are some things a lady must never tell, and there was no point stopping the inevitable now. We were getting married. And marriage was compromise.

If you had asked me when my next free weekend was, I would have had to ask you to come back to me next year.

December 17, 2011

Dance. Fireworks. Joy?

It was our shaadi! Jay and I sat next to each other in the wedding altar. I shifted uncomfortably and tried to stop my legs from falling asleep and he poked me playfully. Behind the sehra hiding his face from me, I could see him raise an eyebrow, a gesture I now knew meant he was asking me if I was alright while simultaneously implying that he found my discomfort amusing. I was surprised we knew each other so well already. It hadn’t even been six months but I could see us together.

I mean, I couldn’t see myself with anybody else. And that was a huge improvement in my condition when I first found out that I was going to be told who to marry. Briefly, my attention wandered as I thought about whether my parents had found out about Dan and I. Maybe that had fueled them into finding me an appropriate groom?
I was snapped out of my reverie with another poke on the side. Now he looked a little bit mad, but honestly, this part of the wedding is boring. I’d been sitting here for three hours now listening to the priest drone on and on, explaining my marital duties as a wife and as a woman. I couldn’t help but feel sleepy, and the thirty pounds of lengha, jewelry, and accessories I was bedazzled in weren’t helping my frame any.

These were the ugly realities that I had been oblivious to when I attended weddings growing up. I never really thought about being in the bride’s shoes. They were uncomfortable, and I caught myself before I sighed out loud and annoyed Jay even more. The mutual suffering was sure to create some memories we could bond over later. Most of my guests were wining, dining, and dancing. The only people who sat around the altar for this part were the immediate family; everybody else was happily eating and talking quietly amongst themselves. The older aunties were eying my friends, and I could see them mentally sizing everybody up and making more matches in their heads. Thinking things like “Oh she’s the perfect height for him” and “Look at her manners, bringing her parents food before getting any for herself.”

As much as I was enjoying the decor, the dress, and the food, the fact remains that I was about to marry a man who I barely knew. Of course, the past six months had helped and we were certain we wouldn’t kill each other, I didn’t know whether he snored at night, or if he was better at waking up in the morning than I was. The things that mattered were still a mystery, and although the little girl in me found a sadistic appeal in the uncertainty, the mature romantic in me was still trembling with trepidation. I was fighting my natural impulses with my inbred ones, and trying to sort out the inner turmoil.

The priest was still droning on, though it seemed as though he might be approaching the end of his speech – he was now gesturing at us with wild hand motions, and I looked sheepishly at Jay, afraid I had been caught again. He was still staring devoutly at the priest, but before I could poke him, his sister reached over for my hand and placed my left hand over his right. This would probably be the most prolonged physical contact we had ever had.

I tried better to pay attention to what was going on and I felt Jay swirling his thumb around my knuckles. I wasn’t sure if the gesture was absentminded, but I liked it.

February 14, 2012

“Jay, really? Pick up the damn dishes for once in your life,” I yelled.

“Sorry babe. I’ll get them, just leave em there,” he said.

“Fine.”

I turned away from the dining table toward the dishes in the kitchen and walked right into him. I stepped back and glared at him, mad that our first Valentine’s Day together as a couple was complete shit compared to the ones I had fantasized about. No breakfast in bed, no romantic movie, and no kisses. He was a complete bore. I guess that’s what growing up in business did to him.

“Well, it’s Valentine’s Day. So…so happy valentine’s day?” he said.

“Why do you say it like it’s a question?”

“It is though isn’t it? Are you happy? Are we?”

“I see a pile of dishes in the sink, I haven’t properly cleaned the house in a week, and there were no chocolates on my bed this morning. So yeah, I’m pretty unhappy.”

“Here, let’s stop arguing. Happy Valentine’s Day. I’ll do the dishes and make tea, you go sit on the couch and find a movie to watch or something”

“Kay, bring popcorn”

It was a different kind of Valentine’s day, but like two roommates faced with the knowledge that they couldn’t live apart, we really were trying to make the most of it. It wasn’t love, and I was still torn up about it, but he was beginning to be comfortable and dependent, which is what my parents might have wanted for me after all.

The mysteries were beginning to unravel at last. He only snored at night if he ate something right before bed, and I snored when I was really tired – an embarrassing fact that he still hadn’t quit teasing me about. And I knew he woke up early in the mornings because by the time I got out of bed, the shower was cold and he had coffee ready on the table for us both. So it was a good partnership. We had the teamwork thing down, now it was the relationship that we needed to build.

When he came into the living room, he brought the tea, but also brought me flowers, chocolates, and a note as well. A rare glimpse into his heart, it read:

I know our romance wasn’t ideal,
But our relationship and marriage is real.
Please keep believing that it will work –
You may not have fallen in love with me,
But I know that we can love each other.

March 15, 2012

I had just finished telling Jay how my best friend and I had mixed up The March of Ides with the Ides of March in high school, and how I had never been able to remember which one was right ever since when he leaned over and kissed me on my lips for the first time – it’s the kind of fact that you know you’ll never forget, and I filed it away in my mind right next to “almost falling asleep at my own wedding” and “accidentally pushing Jay off the bed on our first night as a couple.”

There were no fireworks, and I wasn’t tempted to kick up one of my stiletto’d feet like they do in the movies. But it was nice and it felt right. When I pulled away, I was blushing as though he’d kissed me goodbye at the front porch after our first date. I guess that’s the day our courtship really began.

——————-
I’m copy and pasting this from my Google drive, I’ll fix formatting issues in a bit

New Story

No title yet, sorry. It’s a WIP. this is just the beginning. Consider it a teaser lawlz –

————————————–

There are not many easy ways to explain arranged marriage to your friends. When I first mentioned it, they looked at me sympathetically and told me things like “Oh, but you always have a choice” or “But you’re 23” as if these thoughts hadn’t gone through my head already. They gave me sympathetic looks later and told me “We’re always here for you if you need to talk” and “I can’t believe you’re going through with this” as the date of my wedding to Jay got closer and closer.

I’m not alone, and my story is not too unique. Instead of being told who to marry, now our parents tell us who to meet. They tell us who to go out to dinner with, and who to talk to. They tell us who is eligible and around our age. They nudge us into similar social situations and hope that something will click. They call relatives in India and ask if they know of any nice, eligible boys for their daughter in hushed, conspirational tones.

 

July 23, 2011 –

“Hi. I’m Pryanka” I say to the guy as he sat across from me at the café.

“Jay.”

“Yeah. Hi. What’s up?”

“Trust me, this is weird for me too,” Jay tells me.

“Well it’s nice to meet you anyways. So how do our parents know each other?”

“High School. I think. Doesn’t really matter I guess. What would you like to drink?”

“I’ll take an iced coffee! I actually can’t stand hot coffee, but I love how it smells.”

“I’m basically addicted to coffee so as long as you don’t mind the smell, we’re cool.”

I smiled a little and felt some tension leaving my body. He didn’t have an accent! But he was going to have to be pretty amazing to cheer me up, because my argument with Dan earlier today had been devastating. I had nothing to say to him when he ended our relationship because he was tired of waiting. I would have been tired of waiting too, if I had been in his place and had to keep everything a secret for so long. We couldn’t have a “proper” romance, he couldn’t meet my parents and promise my dad he wouldn’t bring me home too late. There were just too many pieces missing in our puzzle, and I understood that, but when we hung up the phone, I was crying anyway.

“I’m sorry, this is really weird for me,” Jay said.

“You said that already,” I said, and snapped out of my thoughts – they were leading me to unhappy places.

“Right”

The waiter came to our table and he ordered two coffees, one iced with milk and sugar. He looked at me, but before he could affirm, I nodded and said, “Yeah, milk and sugar please.”

I wasn’t sure of myself, it had been too long since I went on a date with someone new.

Indians don’t date. There is no word for “boyfriend” in Hindi. After the disastrous phone call and a sobbing session in the bathroom with the shower on, I had stepped out to get ready for this coffee with Jay. As I was getting dressed, my mother had said, “Have a nice time with him. Try to get to know him. He’s a really nice boy, beta.” They never called it a date. I hoped that the familiar term would help me come to terms with what I was getting ready for.

The coffees came, and his mug of coffee had one of those pretty leafy designs swirled into the froth on top. Maybe it was a latte?

I spent the next hour getting to know him as I had been instructed. It was even more weird than all of the mandatory icebreaker games I had played at club meetings in the beginning of my Fall semesters at college.

 

August 12, 2011 –

“FINE Ma, I’ll do it”

And just like that, I sealed my fate. To Jay Chopra. There was just silence around the table because my parents knew better than to act excited. Maybe they were relieved, and they were probably at least a little bit guilty. What could they possibly say to their daughter after she’s agreed to an arranged marriage? My mother got up to call his parents and invite them over for dinner. She had the decency to do that in the other room.

My ex-boyfriend, he didn’t understand either. If he had been Indian, I think I could have loved him. I could have pretended to meet him for the first time and gone for coffee. I could have invited his family over to my house and cooked an amazing Indian dinner to impress them.

As it is, I cooked for Jay, his parents, his older sister and her husband tonight. My mother oversaw the whole affair and I kept my tears to myself the entire night. If Jay could tell I was upset, he kept it to himself and the two of us played at acting like we were happy.

A Troll Unmasked 2.0 (Up All Night – REVISED)

Original can be found here – http://pryanka.livejournal.com/43648.html. Enjoy! Comment and let me know if you think this version is improved? 
 
Shawty, imma only tell you this once, you the ille-

I made a noise somewhere between a groan and a sigh as Nicki Minaj began blasting in my ears. I slammed my fingers onto the keyboard, shutting off the offensive noise, and then picked up the phone to check who was calling me at 3:30 A.M. It hadn’t even been an hour since I had finally fallen asleep, and I wanted nothing more than to ignore the call and go back to sleep. Caution got the better of me though and I pressed the “accept call” button, keeping my eyes tightly closed against the phone’s backlight. Before I answered the phone, the last thought that ran through my head was of murdering the person on the other line if this was a call from California by a friend who’d forgotten the time zone difference again.

“Hello?” I grumbled to myself about how unfair life was and tried to stay awake for long enough to hear a response.

“Is this Pry-ank-kaw?”The woman sounded unsure of herself. I braved the light and opened my eyes to squint at the phone number on the display. +14084785248. I had no idea who she was. I was getting angrier now as the thought that this could be an outsourced telemarketing call came to me.

“Yeah, this is Pryanka,” I said as I corrected her pronunciation. “It’s past 3 in the morning, what is this about?”

A pause. Then, “Do you know Paul?” Just like that, no introduction, no apology. I racked my brain, trying to think of why this woman would call me about Paul. Did I even know a Paul? I started with my circle of immediate college friends. No Paul. I expanded outward to acquaintances and classmates. Still no Paul. I thought back all the way to high school as well, just to be safe, but couldn’t remember a fucking Paul. There was definitely no man by the name of Paul in my life, especially not one worth waking up this early in the morning for.

“No. Good night.” I responded abruptly and then hung up, closing my eyes and relishing the dark as my hand slid my phone under my pillow to muffle the sound. It sounded as though I had heard what sounded like a strangled sob on the other line right as I hung up. I began to doubt my decision in groggily regarding it as a prank call – what would cause her to cry? I was positive that she had cried, not laughed. So if it wasn’t a prank and she wasn’t laughing, I couldn’t fal back asleep without knowing why she had called me. My eyes were closed, but sleep eluded me as I tried to figure out why she had been so distressed and, more importantly, why she had assumed that I knew this Paul character. I snuggled into my bed and curled up to block the cold, but even the added warmth didn’t help my drowsiness come back. I had an 8 A.M. class the following day, and my frustration grew more and more with every passing second that I was not asleep.

My mind was drifting back to the land of dreams. Thoughts strung loosely together, beads of faint, old snapshots. I drifted happily between the flashes of faces, events, and places until suddenly, my body rushed headfirst into a solid wall of concrete memory. Realization dawned and I knew just who Paul was. Paul was on my forum! My breath caught upon the revelation and I fully awoke once more, this time to a nagging question.

Paul was a boy who once frequented my forum. Neofreaks.org, a forum dedicated to gaming. Primarily based on Neopets, the virtual pet site, Neofreaks also had sections for general chat, programming, graphic design, and debate. Somewhere along the years however, it had devolved into a site for nerdy high school and college students looking for homework help. We posted funny college stories and laughed at one another’s PUI’s – posting under intoxications. There was a core group of about 50 of us users who frequented the forum daily. I considered these fifty to be close friends of mine, people who I had essentially grown up with. These were the people who knew about my frustrations, my first kiss, my weird dreams, my adventures, my drama. But if you wanted to know where Paul fit into this equation, you would not find him in the group I called my friends. Paul, he’d become a troll.

Now those of you familiar, even in the slightest, with forums, may have smiled – or even laughed – there. A forum troll can be the best and worst kind of entertainment. Members love egging on a troll, administrators do not. I was a moderator on this forum, and a troll, however humorous, was extremely irritating. If you compare the troll to a slug, then you will understand the persistence with which a troll likes to leave its mark. Paul jumped from one thread to another, insulting and harassing members on every single one. The posts being reported were overflowing, and the disgruntled moderating team was getting exasperated. After claiming that the forum owner, a 20 year old junior studying at Oxford University, was actually a narcissistic bastard, he created another thread to prove, at length, how one of the moderators had an uncanny resemblance to Eeyore. He even went into the trouble of finding her Facebook account and providing detailed picture-by-picture comparisons between the two. I had developed some serious hatred toward Paul as he continued to break all of our rules. If we banned his account, he came back with a new one. If we banned his IP Address, he came back under a new proxy like the persistent cow that he was. I was amused and horrified by how thoroughly immersed he was in the art of trolldom. He had done his research.

Paul hadn’t always been this way. Upon joining the forum, he had become an active member. He had over 500 helpful posts and had begun to develop the reputation of a regular. We were getting to know him. There’s a truth here that I’ve been avoiding – I had really liked Paul. He was two years younger than me, but that didn’t stop me from adding him on AIM and talking to him nearly every day. It was mostly talk about Neopets, but there were times we would veer off and debate politics. Other times, we would get into discussions about a really good song we’d heard, a new book we had read, or even a new movie we’d watched. He was a genuine friend in my eyes. I added him on Facebook, we even Skyped a few times. Meeting these people over the internet took the edge off a lot of new relationships. I was able to talk to these “online friends” about things that I would not necessarily drag my “real life” friends into, and it helped that no matter what else was different, we all shared a general gaming interest. But as time went on, my friendship with these people had strengthened immensely, and the categorization of people into either of the two branches of friendship, real and online, became exceedingly difficult.

For example, after having known Steve, the forum owner, for the previous four years, I considered him a friend. I’d been around when he was still High School. We had encouraged him when he was stressed over his college interviews, and we had congratulated him when he posted the Oxford Interview questions. Two years younger than he, I had stared dreamily into my screen as he spoke of creating algorithms on the spot for the Interviewing professor. He was my inspiration. Still is. Steve was a friend in every sense of the word – because he couldn’t physically hug me, he offered his support through other means. He was our academic guru.

I had the same problem many of my forum friends had when it came to distinguishing between our real life and our online friends. Bearing in mind that I had spoken to many of these people, texted some frequently, and even met a few for lunch once or twice, I walked a treacherously thin line. Paul was no exception. Over the course of several months, Paul was beginning to cross that invisible line if I didn’t keep a strict handle on our conversations. Nothing would have escalated into the drama that it did if he hadn’t began to like me though. I couldn’t see myself dating somebody younger than I was, and Paul was still just a boy to me. He lived in California, I was getting tired of staying awake until 4 A.M. to talk to him, and I wanted to stop things before they progressed any further. Rejection was only half of the reason he turned bad though.

For the other half, I give credit to Kai. She singlehandedly turned a boy obsessed with me into a forum troll that hated my existence. Where Paul had been a normal member upon joining Neofreaks, Kai was a nuisance from the start. Not a week after she had joined, she had latched onto Paul as her new target. She made it obvious that she was interested in him, flirting heavily with him on every single thread they posted on. She turned his comments into sexual innuendos, and lost no opportunity in flaunting herself. The Post Your Picture Thread we had running in General Chat was soon overrun by various pictures of her, many in the unflattering MySpace and mirror picture poses that were, and still are, unfathomably popular. I was disgusted by her behavior, but I was even more disgusted by how eagerly Paul responded to her. I still don’t know how, but she convinced him that he loved her. The two trolled every now and then, but it would be a harmless jeer at some deserving newbie, so the moderators didn’t pay it much attention. The trolling became more obvious as they became more and more infatuated with each other though.  After two months of getting on everybody’s nerves, she confessed that she loved him. Of course, Kai had to sensationalize everything she did, and the day after the two had become an official couple, her forum signature flaunted four lines of “PAUL I LOVE YOU,” each line increasing in size and obnoxiousness of color.

I was tempted to ask Steve to ban neon signatures and edit the forum rules, but he refused to do so. I was annoyed and told myself that I should keep out of the mess and lay low. Every time I acted and tried to right what Kai and Paul did on a thread, they would sabotage three others. The spite was purposely directed upon me. I remember breaking down in tears talking to a friend, an online friend of course, about the whole situation. It was one big and terrific mess that I had no idea how to escape.

Kai lived in London, Paul in California. That didn’t stop the two of them from believing they were soul mates though. Maybe they were. At first, I was glad that Paul was no longer talking to me every day. I thought I had finally rid myself of his obsession, but Kai wasn’t going to make it so easy for me. When I slept, London trash talked on every single active thread on the forum. When I was awake, threads were plagued by California trash.

I was livid. I couldn’t believe I had been friends with Paul.

Kai’s personality was deathly and charismatic. Once she had selected her prey, he had no chance of escape. I saw close friends of mine fall into her evil ways in front of my very eyes. Jacob, whom I had affectionately called Kubby and taught Photoshop years ago, now complained behind my back how he thought I was arrogant. Wizard, Andrew, Dru, whatever you want to call him – he had fallen in my eyes too. These were friends and members who had adored and respected me. Now, they purposely wreaked havoc on the forum, trolling as much as they could without letting themselves be banned. It’s a time on the forums we still talk about. The moderators had never been busier – we spent all of our free time for several weeks doing nothing but deleting threads and issuing warnings, infractions, and even temporary bans to the offending users.

And then, three weeks later, they all stopped just as abruptly as they had started.

It was a relief, but it was strange. At this point, we were so used to seeing everybody’s rude replies to one another that the relative peace felt hollow and unreal. I found myself thinking wistfully of the time when I actually had threads to delete and users to ban. I don’t know what caused the change of heart but I was so hurt by his actions and disloyalty that I wanted nothing to do with him anymore. He stopped bothering us, and slowly, Kai and Paul slipped away from my concerns.

Let’s bring the narrative back into the present. I was in bed, wide awake, reminiscing over Paul, Kai, and their cronies. I’d been on this forum since 2006. I remember having my forum friends help me pick out the perfect Sweet 16 dress. I remember being proud of how true and steadfast these same friends had proven. My forum generation was, for the most part, in College now. If I recalled correctly, Paul and Kai would be in their senior year of high school. I don’t know why Paul had decided to come back into my life – I hadn’t properly spoken to him in over a year – but  here I was, staring at a phone number with a Silicon Valley area code. I wasn’t dreaming. I fumbled for the phone I had shoved under my pillow several minutes ago and called her back. Call it curiosity or concern, I wanted to know what was going on.
She picked up. Before she could say anything, I told her quickly, “I know Paul.”

I heard several ragged breaths. She didn’t speak, so I continued. “Who are you?”

I lay there rigidly and silently, waiting for her response. Began counting in my head and got to five before I heard a hoarse voice. “I’m his mother.”

I scoffed and nearly laughed. “Kai, if this is some idea of a sick prank, I’m really not in the mood. Don’t call again.”

“Excuse me,” she said, her voice a little firmer this time, “I’m Paul’s mother.”

I waited for Kai to switch back to her real voice and tell me that this was all a prank and I was being charged international rates for ever second I wasted listening to her breathe. The words I heard next were not those I was prepared for.

“Paul’s in a coma. He..he,” she paused as if to compose herself and continued, “he tried to kill himself.”

I blinked, let out a gasp, blinked again. The world did not change. Of course I wasn’t fond of Paul. Of course I hated Kai. That didn’t prevent the news from shocking me all the same – this was somebody who I knew. This was somebody whose voice I’d fallen asleep to once or twice. This is somebody who once considered me his friend. This was the same Paul who had blown kisses to me on Skype. The same boy who had told me how much he really wanted to meet me. The same boy who’d had such conflicting feelings for me before. And he was in a coma?

How could that be possible. Bad things only happened to people I didn’t know. Occasionally, a friend of a friend of a friend would get into a not-so-bad car accident, but an attempted suicide? A coma? My Paul in a coma?

I couldn’t say anything to her. I didn’t know what words I could possibly fashion into a coherent sentence, didn’t know what sentence could ease the pain of a woman who had just confessed to a stranger that her son was on the precipice of death. The air was too heavy, I was suffocating. The weight of her words now tangible, crowding around me and stifling my breath as I tried to figure out what to say next. I couldn’t help but feel the waves of guilt that came rushing upon me. Maybe if I hadn’t rejected him, he would never have discarded my friendship. Maybe I would know why he was so upset, maybe I would be able to change things.

Still, I will never forgive myself for my next words. “It’s not my fault.”

I may as well have slapped her, that’s how heartless I felt after saying that. What right did I have to justify my own guilt to this woman? Fears that my parents had fiercely alluded to came back. “Don’t spend so much time chatting with these people online, beta. They are not good for you,” my mom would say to me all the time. My father wasn’t as kind. “Beta, you need to get good marks in school Stop this nonsense.” All of their warnings and premonitions rushed now to taunt me. I gulped, tried to figure out what to say next. “I mean that I…I haven’t spoken to him in over a year.”

“I know.” A sigh of relief. I don’t know whether it was from her side of the phone or mine. I was still trying to breathe normally again.

“But why’d he do this? Why did you call me? How did you get my number?” I had to restrain myself from asking her too many questions at once. I had a thousand more fluttering uneasily in my stomach. She stated simply, “Kai. You know her.”

It was a statement, not a question. She left no room for me to hide. “I do, but what does she have to do with this?”

“She caused it. He fell in love with her. And she broke his heart.” I said nothing, so she continued. “I went through Paul’s Facebook and saw that he messaged you and apologized. I got your phone number that way too. I just need to know if you knew anything about this.”

“I didn’t know anything. He did apologize but that’s a long story. I can’t forgive him for turning into what Kai wanted him to become.”

She began sobbing again. I couldn’t bring myself to hang up the phone. So I sat up in bed, kept the phone pressed to my ear, and waited for her to explain herself. The story she told me was so outrageous that I had trouble believing her. I needed to know Paul’s side of this story though, so I stayed on the phone and listened and breathed when I remembered to.

She spun Paul’s tale for me, starting from his first meeting with Kai. I don’t know how she had pieced this together, I don’t know how who she found the information from, but she knew it and she proceeded to tell me. Paul and Kai, 16 and 15 years old at the time, had fallen “in love” with one another. He had traveled to London, on the pretext of college visits a year later, and instead spent nearly a week with Kai. I listened, amazed.

“She got pregnant. She f-king wants money from him,” she told me, trying to censor her anger even in her extremely agitated state. “He’s only 17.”

She continued to repeat herself. I pieced together the jumbled fragments of her story, murmuring it to myself as if repetition would make it any less incredulous. Paul met Kai, Kai got pregnant, she’s harassing him for abortion money, and Paul’s so stressed that he tried to kill himself to escape the entire drama.

They were far too young to have gotten themselves into this position, but that’s not something I could tell his distraught mother. I couldn’t very well tell her that it was his fault like I wanted to. I couldn’t exclaim that her son had become an arrogant troll who flirted with the first new girl who caught his attention. I wanted to console her but at the same time, my brain told me that it wanted nothing to do with the situation. I didn’t want to interfere. I knew the extent of Kai’s online vengeance, and I shuddered to see even a fraction of translate into real life.

I sat there on the phone with her, this unknown woman, for the next two hours. Sleep had long since abandoned me. She cried her heart out and my own mind was traumatized after hearing how badly Paul had messed up his life. He dropped out of school, almost became a father. He chased after Kai, still nothing more than a pesky bitch in my eyes, and then ran back to California at the first sign of trouble. Well, that was just stupid. I listened and tried my best to keep my opinion silent.

“I’m really sorry. Thank you for listening to-“

“It’s okay, it’s not a problem. I don’t really know what to say I hope he recovers soon and gets better and…and.” I was at a loss. I tried again. “He’ll get better,” I finished lamely.

“It’s okay honey. He’ll fight through this. I’m sorry for waking you up.”

She hung up the phone and I collapsed back into bed. I pulled the covers up around me but couldn’t stop my body from shaking. I don’t know what I was afraid of more – Paul’s immediate situation or Kai’s eminent revenge.

I got up and decided to take a shower. I tried to wash away her pain and my own fears. I tried to forget, and she never called back.

A Confused Ramble 3.0

This one has gone through drastic edits as well. This version is the one I included in my final Creative Writing portfolio however. Enjoy!

I sat in my bed poring over Organic chemistry, Biology, and the Skype log of my last conversation with Chris. There had to be something I’d said that triggered his anger. It was frustrating – no matter how many times I read through our conversation from Sunday night, I found nothing wrong. It was normal and relaxed. It was cute! We were home for the weekend, and he missed me. I missed him.

[12/6/2010 10:17:22 PM] Christian: well, maybe ur a bit better than alright
[12/6/2010 10:18:43 PM] Jessica: no im pretty sure u think im awesome
[12/6/2010 10:19:51 PM] Christian: well…
[12/6/2010 10:20:04 PM] Jessica: well ….
[12/6/2010 10:20:20 PM] Christian: i guess so, MUAH!
[12/6/2010 10:20:32 PM] Jessica: see i was rite!
[12/6/2010 10:20:35 PM] Jessica: muah!
[12/6/2010 10:20:57 PM] Christian: i miss you :*

But now it’s Thursday, and I haven’t heard a single thing from him since that Sunday night. If he were just a friend, perhaps four days could be excused by a busy schedule, but if a boyfriend goes MIA for so long, there has to be something wrong. I suppose I should go talk to him soon. In fact, I know I should. Scary thoughts are running through my head right now. If he’s upset with me, he needs to tell me so we can talk about what’s wrong and fix it and go back to being happy. One day we’re having a normal conversation, and the next, he refuses to acknowledge my presence. He ignored my IM’s, Skype video chat invitations, and my texts. It’s not a hard concept – talking about why one is mad – but I fear that men simply don’t understand what we want from them. They’re such confusing creatures.

I haven’t been telling him a lot about my personal life lately, but that’s because I don’t want to burden him with my own problems. He’s on the pre-med track, I know how stressful our classes are. I doubt he wants to listen to me break down about how family issues have been increasing the stress on my own life. As my boyfriend, he should be able to tell that I need his support the most right now, but instead, he’s avoiding me. And to be completely honest, he doesn’t even have the time to talk to me if he wanted to. He has a midterm tomorrow in his Statistics class. I only found out because Anna, a friend of mine in that class, told me about it. When did we stop telling each other things?

Sometimes, I feel like he wants to break up with me. Maybe he’s tired of me – am I too melodramatic? My best friends in high school always criticized me for being too dramatic, so I might have finally scared him away. I think college friends feel the same way but are too nice to bring it up. I’m not oblivious though, I know the truth. I just don’t understand why he’s suddenly decided that I’m not worth his time? It feels out of the blue – like I said, he sounded normal before, if a bit reserved. The more I think about it, the more I realize – he’s stopped using <3’s in his text messages now. It was a texting quirk of mine that rubbed off on him, but now he doesn’t use it anymore. Is he outgrowing me? My best friend questions me all the time, and I honestly have no idea where Chris is and what he’s doing unless I’m with him.

Am I just supposed to stay with him all the time? Has he gotten bored of my company? I love him. He said “I love you” to me for the first time just three works ago. At first, I thought this was his way of wanting some more space, but why would he say he loves me and then avoid contact. Does he want more space? Does he regret saying “I love you” to me? I don’t know what to do and how to help him, but regardless of what his reasons are, I think he needs to tell me how he feels instead of give me the cold shoulder. I don’t want to intentionally drive us apart, but every day he ignores me drives me away from him. I want to date a mature individual, not a boy holding some sort of unspoken grudge. He’s acting as though we’re in elementary school, and the frustration is welling up inside of me. Fat teardrops threaten to explode. I can’t understand why he won’t text me. “Why are you upset? Let’s talk,” I text him, and I don’t get a text, call, or IM in reply. Nothing. Nada. I’m staring at my Blackberry waiting for it to vibrate and waiting to see “Christian Rocconova calling” light up on the screen, but that’s not happening. When I went to chemistry lecture today morning, he didn’t even say hello.

I’ve just noticed how extensively he shadows my life. It’s been four days with no contact, and I see glimpses of him everywhere I go. I feel phantom hands cuddling around me at night, but they’re not warm and comforting like his are. I really miss him. I miss the knowledge that no matter how rough my day has been, I can talk to him, kiss him, fall asleep in his arms.

My best friend tells me that I need to talk to him some more. Not just to figure out why he’s mad, but to tell him more about my mother’s illness and how it’s straining my every move. I don’t know how to deal with the stress sometimes. I just know I need him here. I need him to help our relationship get through whatever these past four days have been like. After dating me for more than a year, he should know that the best way to deal with any problems between us is by talking about them. If he runs away, I get mad. I get worried and paranoid. I ramble like I am right now. I need to understand why he’s mad, but he’s not letting me know. He’s holed up in the library to study, and when he gets back, he plays videogames or goes to sleep. I’m his girlfriend, and he’s reduced me into nothing more than a creepy girl asking his friends for his whereabouts all the time. I just want him to talk to me again!

He’s preoccupied, that’s understandable. It is midterm week, after all. But no real solution to this concrete problem will be found if he doesn’t even tell me what went wrong in the first place.

My vision’s blurring, and I wipe away a tear. I really need my best friend here right now. Colleges should not be allowed to be this far apart from one another. When we were in ninth grade, just entering high school together, the two of us had made a pact. We would apply to the same colleges as one another. In eleventh grade, she realized that she wanted to be an English major, so we settled on applying to colleges that had great pre-law and pre-med programs. Then, when the time came to apply for FAFSA, she received more money than I did. I watched my dreams of attending NYU fall apart. We both got in. She accepted. She left in August 2009 to begin her life in New York City. I made my way here, to SUNY Stonybrook. Not a bad college, but not my dream. Our dream was there, in New York City. She lives for both of us there, and without Chris, I would have very little reason to stay.

On most days, I’m happy that we’re able to lead separate lives and still keep in touch nearly every single day, but sometimes, I just want her to be here for me with a pint of ice cream and a chick flick. She has a boyfriend now too, but I don’t want to burst her bubble just yet and tell her how hard they are to maintain. I am a staunch believer – boys do not understand girls. Sometimes, we don’t understand them either, but they are usually just very lazy individuals.

This whole time, I’ve been sitting here thinking about my best friend and my boyfriend – my two favorite BFs – when I should be studying for my midterms instead. He probably doesn’t even know that I feel ignored. A guy can go a couple days without seeing his girl. His girl though, she needs reassurance every few hours that he’s still enamored. Perhaps a girl with more self-confidence would not be so needy, but I miss him terribly. I miss the attention, but I miss his companionship much more. I love him.

My Blackberry hasn’t vibrated in over an hour. I’m beginning to feel that there is an issue with my phone. Perhaps he’s been texting me, but I haven’t received anything and thus, haven’t replied. That could have made him mad enough to ignore me entirely. Not reasonable or nice, but it’s a possibility. I’m going to reach over to the cell phone, snuggly plugged into the charger by my bed, and turn it off. Take out its battery, restart. Pray that he texts me.

I’m living on prayers and wishes. I’ve steadfastly waited for 11:11 (AM and PM) and wished for a communication from him. I’ve been sitting here counting the hours without him, and it feels like I’m counting to eternity. It is impossible to keep count, each minute feels like an hour, each hour a year. One day is of unimaginable magnitude, four a tragedy. He is killing me slowly, drawing out the pain from one minute to one hour, one day to four

The phone vibrates. I rush back to my bed, answer it. It is from him, but before I can read what it says, Chris walks in through the door, envelops me in his arms and whispers I love you as he runs his fingers through my hair. I feel my spirits lifted instantaneously, his voice is a balm. I look down, and the text message says “I love you” too.

“I love you. I do.”

A Penned Memory – Version 3.0

Revised yet again! This is version 3, revised and prepared to be put into my final portfolio for this Creative Writing portfolio. I’m pleased!


Claire <clairity@gmail.com >

Wednesday, November 5, 2010

Christine <moonccake@live.com>

Halloween and Sim


So Christine,

I know you’ve been dying to know what happened at the Halloween party for over a month now, but I still don’t think I can explain this face to face, because it’s just too embarrassing.  I can’t really stand it anymore – I need to tell somebody how dirty I feel since that stupid Halloween night. No matter how many times I shower, the faint ghost of his touch still lingers all over my skin. I can’t look at my own body without feeling disgusted. I’m ashamed of letting myself drink so much, but I had thought that drinking with him would make it easier for him to finally make his move. You told me that he was flirting every time he came over to our room, even when I didn’t believe you. You always said it was just a matter of time. I was the impatient one though…maybe if I hadn’t tried so hard that night, I wouldn’t be so ashamed of myself now.

I don’t even think Sim cares, because no matter how many times he has apologized, it doesn’t change the fact that he thinks I was a mistake. The entire night was nothing but a drunken mistake for him, and it makes me feel like complete shit that I took part in it. You know that Sim was giving me all the right signals, especially after the semester started. We’d been texting so much more, and he had seemed pretty excited when I invited him to our party. He explicitly told me that he liked spending time with me more than with his girlfriend. I believed him, but look at the texts he sent me when I invited him to the party – wouldn’t you have believed him too?


Me: Hey Sim, party @ my place tonight. Wear your costume

Sim: Escape Cindy & party w/ u? Hell yeah, but no costume lmao

Me: fine fine w/e, just get here after work. PS she’s your gf, say something positive abt her sometimes…

Sim: Meh, you’re cooler. + we’re on a ‘break’ right now

 
I guess part of the reason I’m writing this email to you in the first place is that I need to sort out my own feelings about him and about the night. You’re gone for the weekend and I’d rather type everything out – IM’ing or texting’s too short and snappy, I need some real advice. It does help that you’ll stop bothering me about it after you read this though. I like him, but you already know that. I just didn’t think he liked me back. Like I said before, the night I invited him over, he was taking a break with Cindy, as if relationships are like real-life board games you can pause, grab a snack, and come back to. On second thought, that’s probably how Sim decided to take things too, because now that I’m writing out the order of events to you as they happened, I’m starting to realize I was the “snack” he wanted to grab while his relationship was on pause. Warning Sign #1.

Too bad you had to go home that weekend
L Maybe if you had stayed, I could have avoided direct contact with him. You’d be my buffer! But I told myself not to worry about things and just let myself have a fun Halloween. Going back to my story – It was now 11pm and I had already had two shots of vodka by the time Sim arrived.  After I signed him into the residence hall and brought him up to my room, we both had two more shots each. Nobody else was in the room anymore – I threw a pre-game party, so everybody had come over and hung out with me for a few hours before heading out to whatever clubs or parties they were invited to. Warning Sign #2.

So this is where the night got scandalous. I’ve already had four shots, so I was feeling fairly tipsy. He was still fine, but I was getting giggly and slightly red. We made our way over to the bed (Hey, there’s no couch! Where else would we sit and talk?), sat down, and began talking. Most of my conversations with Sim always start out with Cindy, but this time, I refused to bring her up. Not five minutes later, I got up to get my blankets out – it was cold – and practically fell back into his lap as I made my way back to the bed. We began cuddling in bed after that, feeling nostalgic for our high school day. We were just swapping old memories. The first time we’d spoken to one another online, met in person, went out for lunch, passed out from exhaustion and homework on the same bed. Then suddenly he was leaning me to promise me that he didn’t really like Cindy, and I tried to tell him that it didn’t matter to me but his lips were so close to my own that before I could say anything, I was kissing him.

After we shared that first tentative kiss, he moved his face toward mine again. Our lips met and this time, I discovered that he was an aggressive kisser when the pretense of caution was no longer necessary. When we kissed, my senses felt as if they were suddenly ten times more acute. I saw the stubble on his chin, heard his quiet whispers between each kiss, and best of all, felt his lips on mine. I felt as though I could hear his heart thundering in his chest. I felt as though, if I turned around fast enough, I’d see flecks of fairy dust swirling magically around us.

It sounds so similar to what you told me when you first kissed Eric that I wanted to tell you that I finally felt the same connection with somebody. I just wanted to tell you that I believe you – kissing Sim was amazing.

It wasn’t as magical for him though. When I was in the moment, I was perfectly happy, but every moment after he left has been torturing me. We were in the dorm room and he technically still had a girlfriend, but that hadn’t stopped him from setting me down next to him and lowering his lips to mine, moving us backward so I was laying on the bed and then sliding his hands all over my body as if I were already his. I feel sickened now, but at that time, all that mattered was that I liked him and I was single, so I let him continue.

The next part is what I’ve had the most difficulty explaining away. It’s the part that’s been haunting me since, and the reason I haven’t just been upfront and explained to you why Sim and I haven’t spoken since Halloween.

After we’d been kissing for a minute, he tried to slide his hands under my shirt, but I wasn’t about to let him do that when he wasn’t even officially single and available. At that point, I was tipsy enough to believe that more shots of vodka would help me avoid an awkward situation. He was so intent on making out that he wouldn’t even let him go – I practically had to shove him off. Warning Sign #3.

So I jumped off the bed, adjusting my shirt and smoothing my hair as I walked over to the dining table. I took out my two favorite shot glasses – bought from Universal Studios Orlando and Hawaii respectively, and poured out shots of the Bacardi we have in the room. I had honestly just hoped to distract him and go back to innocent conversation before I said goodnight to him and sent him back home. That’s all this was supposed to be.

Before I could pick up the shots and bring them back to Sim, he walked over behind me and pulled me back into him, hugging me from behind as he kissed my neck. I pulled out of his grasp and shoved the shot glass in his hand before he could make another move. Made him toast to our friendship, emphasis on “friends.” This night had already crossed my boundaries once, I really didn’t want this to happen again. He got the hint – at least temporarily – and we spent the next hour just talking about random topics – I think we covered school, relationships, dream vacations and evil ex-bosses in that hour. Pretty fun. This is the Sim I know, the Sim that I became friends with. That aggressive and insistent side of his personality…this was the first time I saw it. It was now pretty late – past 2AM if I remember correctly – so I suggested that he crash at our dorm instead of take the subway back to Queens. The vodka was hitting us both now and I was pretty drunk. Honestly though, I also wanted to test him and see if he would leave or stay. I thought that if he stayed, he liked me. If he left, then he didn’t.

But instead of listening to me, he was hugging me again and leading me back towards my bed with him. We walked past my bed and he pushed me back into the walk-in closet. I saw him slide the door closed, the carpeted floor and Lil Wayne poster and the dingy yellow lighting disappear as the closet shrouded us in momentary black silence.

After I had processed what happened, I squirmed and tried kicking him, but my eyes hadn’t adjusted to the dark yet and I couldn’t see him properly yet. He was too strong for me and lifted me off my feet, carrying me to the far corner of the closet and pushing me up against the corner where my coats are. I writhed out of his grasp and almost fell to the floor, but he wrapped his arms around me, secured me to the flat of the wall, and made to kiss me again. I was confused – I didn’t really see the need to push me into the closet this aggressively if he just wanted to kiss me – but his intentions became painfully clear once he moved to slide his hands under the waistband of my jeans. I’ll spare you the gross details and just let you know that he broke all the lines, and marred my morals and ideals. You know I don’t even want to have sex until I’m married, but still, he took advantage of the alcohol in our bodies and tried pushing me entirely too far.

If I hadn’t been so terrified of losing my virginity, I think I would have enjoyed the “making out” part a lot. But as it is, all I could hear was my own frantic heartbeat. Because I’m just describing what he did, it sounds sort of romantic, but once the alcohol-induced lust wore off at the end of the night, I still liked him and he still didn’t like me back. In the darkness, the contours of his jaw were lit up subtly by the crack of light peeping through the bottom of the closet door, and the entire effect of the dim lighting made his face look perfectly chiseled and handsome. He looked so hot, but I’ve never been more afraid of him than I was that night.

I finally pulled his hands off of my body and pushed him away, all the adrenaline in my bloodstream rushing to help me fortify myself against his strength. I told him to stop and moved to open the door. If he had asked me what was wrong then, I think I would have began sobbing, but he just pulled away and stared into my eyes. His own had a fierce and hungry look, like I was just another thing to abuse and get his way with. I think I froze up with fear and wasn’t able to rush out of the closet in time. The moment lost, he grabbed my wrists in a crushing grip that left me with those bruises you asked me about when you got back from home.

He almost raped me – that part is obvious. I almost wanted him to – that’s the part that leaves me riddled with shame. I wanted things to go far, but at the same time, I stopped him before they got so far that we could never go back to being friends. He’s been apologizing to me since, but I’ve ignored the calls and voicemails. I don’t know if I’ll be able to forgive him so quickly for doing that to me, but I can’t bear thinking that my dignity is gone with him. Because in the end, nothing happened, although everything almost did.

Almost’s just not good enough though. He had the audacity to text me that he thinks he likes me. Here’s what he said to me – “I think I like you, but I’m not sure that I can leave Cindy.” Well, then I need to fucking move on, don’t I? And by writing this to you, I already feel a little bit better. Call me when you get this? I need to know what you think.

xoxo

Claire

A Penned Memory (The Letter – REVISED)

 Dear Christine,

You’ve been asking to know what happened at the Halloween party for over a month now, but I still don’t think I could ever bring myself to tell you this face to face, so I’m going to let my pen do the dirty work for me. I can’t really stand it anymore – I need to tell somebody how dirty I feel. No matter how many times I shower, the faint ghosts of his touch still linger all over my skin. I can’t look at my own body without feeling disgusted. I’m ashamed of letting myself drink so much, but I had thought that drinking with him would make it easier for him to finally make his move. You told me that he was flirting every time he came over to our room, even when I didn’t believe you. You always said it was just a matter of time. I was the impatient one though…maybe if I hadn’t tried so hard that night, I wouldn’t be so ashamed of myself now.

I don’t even think Sim cares, because no matter how many times he has apologized, it won’t change the fact that I was just a mistake to him. I’ll probably never be anything else. You’re my roommate, so I’m sure you know Sim was involved. We’d been texting so much more, and he had seemed pretty excited when I invited him to our party. He explicitly told me that he liked spending time with me more than with his girlfriend. I believed him, but look at the texts he sent me when I invited him to the party – wouldn’t you have believed him too?

Me: Hey Sim, party @ my place tonight. Wear your costume
Sim: Awesome, can’t wait to escape Cindy and party w/ u.
Me: I’ve never heard u say anything positive about her…
Sim: Only bc you’re so much cooler

I guess I’m writing you this letter to sort out my own feelings about him and about the night. It does help that you’ll stop bothering me about it after you read this though. I like him, but you already know that. I just didn’t think he liked me back. Not only that, he was still dating Cindy then…well, the night I invited him over (Halloween), do you remember when I left our room with him for a couple minutes? He told me that Cindy had suggested they take a “break” – as if relationships are like real-life board games you can pause, grab a snack, and come back to. On second thought, that’s probably how Sim decided to take things too, because now that I’m writing out the order of events to you as they happened, I’m starting to realize I was the “snack” he wanted to grab while his relationship was on pause.

But I told myself I wasn’t going to worry about any of that, and just focus on having a great Halloween party. I’d already had two shots of vodka by the time Sim arrived. After we came back in the room, we both had two more shots each before heading over to my bed.

This is where the night got scandalous.

I already knew they were on a break, and we were cuddling in the bed together for some reason. Nostalgia had settled in on us both, and we were just swapping old memories. The first time we’d spoken to one another online, met, fallen asleep on the same bed. Then suddenly he was leaning me to promise me that he didn’t really like Cindy, and I tried to tell him that it didn’t matter to me but his lips were so close to my own that before I could say anything, I was kissing him. Or maybe he kissed me first?

After we shared that first tentative kiss, he moved his face toward mine again. Our lips met and this time, I discovered that he was an aggressive kisser when the pretense of caution was no longer necessary. When we kissed, my senses felt as if they were suddenly ten times more acute. I saw the stubble on his chin, heard his quiet whispers between each kiss, and best of all, felt his lips on mine. I felt as though I could hear his heart thundering in his chest. I felt as though, if I turned around fast enough, I’d see flecks of fairy dust swirling magically around us.

I loved kissing him, but I don’t think it was as magical for him. When I was in the moment, I was perfectly happy, but every moment after he left has been torturing me. We were in the dorm room, not yet fully alone, but that hadn’t stopped him from setting me down next to him and lowering his lips to mine, moving us backward so I was laying on the bed and then sliding his hands all over my body as if I were already his. I feel sickened now, but at that time, all that mattered was that I liked him and he was single, so I let him continue.

The next part is what I’ve had the most difficulty explaining away. It’s the part that’s been haunting me since, and the reason I haven’t just been upfront and explained to you why Sim and I haven’t spoken since Halloween.

After we’d been kissing for a minute, he tried to slide his hands under my shirt, but I wasn’t about to let him do that when he wasn’t even officially single and available. So I jumped off the bed, adjusting my shirt and smoothing my hair as I walked over to Sara and Misha. They were still in the room making Ramen. I invited them over to our place, but it was more of a pre-game kind of party before they went clubbing. I know you wouldn’t have liked it if I threw a huge party while you were gone for the weekend, so I kept it small. Anyway, I walked over to the other side of the room and lined up shots for the four of us. Before we could take the shots though, Sim walked over behind me and pulled me back into him, hugging me from behind as he kissed my neck. Sara turned around, saw this, and made a face at us, so I told him to go chill on my bed for a bit. He had originally planned on going home, but it was already so late that I told him it’d be best if he crashed here instead of taking the subway home to Queens.

I guess I also wanted to test him and see if he would leave or stay. I thought that if he stayed, he liked me. If he left, then he didn’t.
But instead of listening to me, he was hugging me again and leading me back towards my bed with him. We walked past my bed and he pushed me back into the walk-in closet. I saw him slide the door closed, the carpeted floor and Lil Wayne poster and the dingy yellow lighting disappear as the closet shrouded us in momentary black silence.

After I processed what happened, I squirmed and tried kicking him, but my eyes hadn’t adjusted to the dark yet and I couldn’t see him properly yet. He was too strong for me and lifted me off my feet, carrying me to the far corner of the closet and pushing me up against the corner where my coats are. I writhed out of his grasp and almost fell to the floor, but he wrapped his arms around me, secured me to the flat of the wall, and made to kiss me again. I was confused – I didn’t really see the need to push me into the closet this aggressively if he just wanted to kiss me – but his intentions became painfully clear once he moved to slide his hands under the waistband of my jeans. This time, I didn’t try to stop him. A minute later, he had me out of my pants, but in doing that, he trespassed so many boundaries I had set up for myself. He broke all the lines, and marred my morals and ideals. You know I don’t even want to have sex until I’m married, but still, he took advantage of the alcohol in our bodies and tried pushing me entirely too far.

If I hadn’t been so terrified of losing my virginity, I think I would have enjoyed the “making out” part a lot. But as it is, all I could hear was my own frantic heartbeat. I mean, if I described what he did to me, it would probably sound romantic, but the truth of it is that once the alcohol-induced lust wore off, I still liked him painfully more than he liked me. He traced my body with his fingers and despite the fear, I was still mesmerized by the strange beauty I saw in his lust-filled face. In the darkness, the contours of his jaw were lit up subtly by the crack of light peeping through the bottom of the closet door, and the entire effect of the dim lighting made his face look perfectly chiseled and handsome. I think if the situation had been different, it wouldn’t have left me with such bitterness and regret.

I finally pulled his hands off of my body and pushed him away, all the adrenaline in my bloodstream rushing to help me fortify myself against his strength. I told him to stop and moved to open the door. If he had asked me what was wrong then, I think I would have began sobbing, but he just pulled away and stared into my eyes. His own had a fierce and hungry look, like I was just another thing to abuse and get his way with. I think I froze up with fear and wasn’t able to rush out of the closet in time. The moment lost, he grabbed my wrists in a crushing grip that left me with those bruises you asked me about when you got back from home.

He almost raped me – that part is obvious. I almost wanted him to – that’s the part that leaves me riddled with shame. I wanted things to go far, but at the same time, I stopped him before they got so far that we could never go back to being friends. He’s been apologizing to me since, but I’ve ignored the calls and voicemails. I don’t know if I’ll be able to forgive him so quickly for doing that to me, but I can’t bear thinking that my dignity is gone with him. Because in the end, nothing happened, although everything almost did.

Almost’s just not good enough though. He had the audacity to text me that he thinks he likes me. Here’s what he said to me – “I think I like you, but I’m not sure that I can leave Cindy.” Well, then I need to fucking move on, don’t I? And by writing this to you, I already feel a little bit better. Call me when you get this? I need to vent

xoxo
ClaireThe