Two packages arrived in the mailbox, both anonymous.

The first one, for me, was a fluffy yellow envelope from Atlanta - and I knew the sender before I even saw the postmark- but I'd no idea what it was.
Inside the bubble wrap envelope and wound in two merchant bags; one from Michael's and the other from a Cost Plus, was a box with 12 perfect sticks of Crayola colored chalk... I opened them to find that every piece was intact from the trip. They clicked together when I opened the box and withdrew one. I was so pleased with this gift that I laughed and opened them quickly to look inside... I was thrilled - I turned to show my gift to Stefanie but I stopped as soon as I saw what was in her hand.

The second, for her, was a thin white envelope from Santa Ana California - and I knew the contents as soon as I saw it - but I've no idea who keeps sending them. I recognized it when I saw the envelope and I would have thrown it away if only I'd gotten the mail when I got home from work. I hadn't, and she was frozen, standing there with the top ripped off it and the newspaper clipping peeping from the jagged tear. These things hurt me; but they were aimed at her. She had known what was inside too and I could see that it had already done its job.

"Give me that." I said and reached forward, trying to rip it from her hand.
She twisted around and grabbed just the clipping out of the envelope. I held the envelope and stared at it, empty in my hand. "You know what it is, so don't look at it, they're only trying to hurt you." I tried to get the article again but she'd started unfolding it - a full-page newspaper add for a weight-loss program. In the margin were the handwritten words:

"Try this, it works!"

Someone has been sending these fucking things for at least three years now and it truly disturbs me. I don't know who it is or why they send these - fucking newspaper cutouts. Somehow I feel that it's my bad Karma somehow whipping back on her rather than me - because that always hurts me more to hurt someone I love than to hurt me. I can’t imagine who dislikes her so much - she doesn’t deserve this.

We tried to talk about it for a while but as I became angry about it I wanted her to get angry about it too. I needed her to be angry rather than hurt - it was easier. I can deal with anger.

She told me that I didn't understand what it was like at all, didn't understand what she went through before she stopped eating for a year - she was frighteningly thin and I still cringe when I see pictures of that time.

Whoever sent them knew her well enough to cut her right to the quick.

I hated this person... these people... whoever the fuck she/they are. I kept telling her that it wasn't about how she looks - because she looks great - it wasn't about anything real at all. It was about them - it was their issue, not hers.

“If you could be hurt over something to do with religion, or on being gay or straight or whatever - they would send something about it.” I stood and paced madly. “Don’t you see, it doesn’t matter what it is! They’re just trying to hurt you - it wouldn't matter if you were a size one, as long as they believe it hurts you - they’ll send them.. It’s not about you! It’s about them. Don’t base your self image on what they think or send!

I tried to make her see my perspective on it - and I argued for a while. I tried to reason and make sense of it; but everything I said simply isolated her from me. I was trying to see this person as a sick individual who had some serious issues and I missed the mark completely.

She shrieked at me to just shut up - please!

Her anger made my words useless and petty. When she started crying I fell silent. She sat in her swivel chair and I knelt down and wrapped my arms around her waist, touching my head to her shoulder.

“They don’t know you, Stef.” I felt her cool arm against my face. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to make you as mad as I was; I thought that maybe-” I stopped, realizing I was going into my speech again. “I’m sorry that I don’t see this the way you do. I love you. I want to hurt the person that did this, I want to see them bleed.”

The fact remained that, no matter what was sent, she was hurt and I just needed to be there. I was throwing around useless proverbs when all she needed was to be held and told that she was beautiful - because THAT was true and tangible, not some ethereal babblings about sociopaths and self-esteem. I held her while she cried and I hated them more for making this happen.

Later, I went back downstairs and looked at the two packages sitting on my desk and was filled with total conflict. Two gifts from opposite coasts with opposite meanings.  My feelings were a sine wave: hate, joy, hate, joy,hatejoyhatejoyhatejoy.

I set the chalk on top of the folded paper - hoping that the perfect gift, sent of friendship, would somehow negate the hateful feelings of the other- and went to bed.

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