XXX Chats

Maybe I was only a connection to be tapped for professional help?

The branches reached the ceiling; Jurassic leaves blocked the light from his tiny dorm room window.

It had mutated into something that pushed against the confines of the room — a kind of organic manifestation of the claustrophobia I felt.

I felt like I was throwing pebbles into a black hole; the communication had no tail. Perhaps, I thought, if I had had more affairs, I would have more inspiration. When I read over them with a little distance, they seemed immature and raw.

(I’d met my now-husband a few weeks after Sam and I broke up.) But I never really felt a dearth; there was plenty in my head to keep me going. But even if I knew the work wasn’t for publication, I could still sense it had a pulse. It was messy, but it had the ingredients of good campus fiction: privilege, precociousness, girls on bikes, and boys in scarves. Some pointers — like I’d given him in Creative Writing 101? I’m loosely connected to the world of publishing and I had no idea where or how Sam was spending his days.

The novel wasn’t even the first time Sam had made me into material.

When he returned to school a few semesters later, we took a creative-writing class together. We both assumed we would stay together, but the distance strained. Perhaps every surprised girlfriend feels that her would-be boyfriend is not being rational when she’s rejected, but I truly thought he was making a major mistake.

It was flattering to read his account of first setting eyes on “my” character — a scene that involved something like a vision emerging from across the campus quad. The character was elegant but uptight; generally correct, but also a scold, deploying righteousness to shield impatience.

In my most honest assessment, I’d say I possess shades of all these attributes and that they are some of the things I like least about myself.

I saw him a few months later, and then again a few months after that, then the time between our encounters yawned into years.

After several years, I got engaged and, not knowing where to find him, left a message on the voicemail of the last phone number I had for him. I worked Sam into stories I was writing — squeezing them in whenever a niggling memory made my fingers twitch.

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