"I've got a problem.

"Dear God, this is fucked up -- I'm a stupid bastard, I'm a punk, I should have the shit kicked out of me. Hang on. From the top, right?

"There's this girl that came to my school, five foot three and short black hair, the beginning of last year. I had a girlfriend, you've heard about her before, we'd been going out for ages."


"This is right before my (to put it pompously) rebirth as a writer. I arose like an untalented phoenix from the ashes of my former self and created an artistic persona that gave a curse about meaning and, and, I don't know -- infiltrating the soul. That stuff. Anyway, I didn't do any of those things with my girlfriend, not a one. I didn't talk about didn't think about didn't even mention literature or anything; it just wasn't a point of common interest between us.

"So there comes Leah, transferred fresh from eighty miles away, and she immediately starts hanging out with us. We say, OK, cool, that's fine; because she's a nice girl and pretty interesting and doesn't slap us when we make jokes. So she's integrated into our little non-cliqué in a matter of weeks. Sure, she's the only girl that hangs out with us on a regular basis. That's cool.

"So anyway, I become convinced that there's some little crush between her and my friend Andrew. And I think there was, I think there had to be something there. So I pushed them together. I dropped hints with both of them and essentially engineered the beginnings of an entire relationship. And they spent time together and I spent about the same amount of time hanging out with both of them anyway, and I had another couple to go out on dates with, finally, so there were plenty of nice benefits to the whole deal.

"Besides -- it was sort of a comfort to see her with someone else, to see her standing in the rain, making out with somebody else. It made me feel like she wasn't a threat anymore to the comfortable little relationship that I had put myself in, and this let me ignore the various merits and problems of the relationship that I really was engaged in.

"But things go as they must. The dating ends, badly. Andrew just decides to dump her, because things aren't feeling right for him, and moves on promptly to a tall blond field hockey player who most of my friends find equally amicable.

"So I'm at his house. This is what makes me the fucker in this story. It's a stupid betrayal. I don't really -- I read his email. He's in the other room with a bunch of my friends, so I just open up the program and read his archived emails, some from her and some from old girlfriends and his parents and relatives and whatever else. The kid saves everything for some reason, except the ugly stuff -- not a word from when they were breaking up was preserved.

"So I'm reading through it, and all of a sudden it's like Oh, fuck. Because I'm reading every word that Leah says and it's all like what I think. It's all shit that I understand, stuff I try to write about... She just throws it all at him. And I know this kid, there's no way that he gets even a single word of this shit. So I'm sitting in front of his computer essentially tearing my heart out and it starts getting sexual.

"Don't get any ideas. This isn't Letters to Penthouse or anything.

"Anyway, forget that stuff. It's bad enough that I had to read all of that in the first place, let alone repeat it to you."


"So anyway, there's this one email, right towards the end. And the subject is now coming down, out of this swandive, into your arms. And bam! I'm blown right out of the water. This one stupid line -- and yes, before you correct me, I know damn well now it's a line from a Wallflowers song, but that's not important to the spirit of what I'm saying -- is so fucking destructive... I don't know. I turned it off right there and didn't open it again.

"It really tears me apart, this shit, though. Bear in mind that I'm still with my girlfriend at this point (hell, this is last week) and I'm fucking ready to die right here at his computer table. I can feel for this girl when she starts feeling excluded by his friends (that's us) or when she even just gets writer's block or any other goddamn thing, because look! I have found this person who is everything I want to know and might understand me and not only am I otherwise engaged, but I've pushed her into Andrew's waiting arms, just to be crushed!

"So you see how this could fuck with me, y'know?"

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