Date: October Third, 2014
To: Hecklers of Morgantown
From: Enraged Female
Subject: Who Do You Think You Are?
First you leer at me, four of you out of a moving truck. You say something, but luckily I can’t hear because I am talking to my friend. I am still trying to forget last weekend when someone said I would fuck the shit out of that, any night as I walked by. When you drive past in the rusty truck, I am grateful for the cement barrier between us. I can see your round jeering faces, your red craning necks. I wonder if you think I cannot see you, seeing me.
Today is an unseasonably warm October day, so I wear a sundress because I don’t like to sweat walking to campus. My dress is an appropriate length and it covers my thighs. There is no cleavage, and I wear my hair pulled back in a ponytail. My hair is blonde. I realize it is bright. I realize you can spot it from far away. My hair causes me trouble. I did not spray myself with come hither perfume. I did not wear high heels or coat my face in makeup. Because signals like those are what attract you hecklers, right? Those are the signals that made it ok to say would you look at that fucking ass.
Later, when I am walking alone in my sundress, you beep at me. You beep so loudly and unexpectedly I jump out of my skin. I do not appreciate this. There is just one of you. This scares me more. You pull back around and drive past again. I hover somewhere between sheer terror and abject rage. I am holding a Tupperware container, for Chrissakes, a Tupperware container with remnants from my lunch: quinoa salad. I have the sudden and unexpected urge to throw my eco-friendly Kleen Kanteen through your car windshield. It would make a satisfying sound – loud as a gunshot. I probably couldn’t launch it with enough force or accuracy to shatter the glass, but I’d like to see the look of shock crossing your shadowed face. You all look the same: wolf eyes, hungry open mouths.
However, I was raised to be a polite woman, so I don’t turn around and chase your car screaming motherfucker, which is what I am thinking. Of course it isn’t safe to chase you back. This is unfair. What defense do I have? All I have is the ability to ignore you. I quicken my pace. Mercifully, you don’t come back. You make me feel unsafe on these streets, and for that I hate you. Sticks and stones may break my bones, and your words fucking enrage me.
I am writing this memo to politely request that you get the fucking fuck away from me. I would like to request that when I ride my bicycle you do not come alongside me and say things like you know you beautiful right? I’d suck that pussy. I wonder if you think I will stop what I am doing and acknowledge you. I wonder if you think I will put down my bike, take off my helmet and climb into your car. Will I unzip your pants? Will I let all four of you take a turn with me?
I hope you crash your car into a telephone pole, turning your head trying to look at me. Trying to take what isn’t yours. Trying to take what is not being offered. I hate you, for making me angry.
I wonder who your mother is, and how she allowed her son to grow up to become a heckler. Burn in hell, fuckers. I’d like to kick you in the ball sack.
Date: October Fourth, 2014
To: Marcus V. Canner 435 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
From: Kelsey A. Liebenson-Morse 276 Warren Street Morgantown, WV 26501
Subject: What I Didn’t Say To You & Never Will
Some Time Has Passed:
So maybe I am not as angry as I was a few weeks ago. That’s not true, actually. I am still really, really, angry. When we said goodbye in my parent’s kitchen this past July you looked right at me and said this isn’t goodbye. Why did you lie? Because it was goodbye. Is it fun to be a liar? You said I love you. Why did you bother? Did you mean to entrap me so you could give up on me as soon as I left the state? We knew it would be hard, because distance is hard, you dummy. But you didn’t try.
In my spare time I imagine you finding pieces of my hair all over your apartment, which is likely because I shed a lot. I picture you finding them, crying face-down on your meticulously clean floors or smoking lots of cigarettes even though we quit together. I actually quit. I haven’t cheated once since June. But you cheated a lot of times, even before I left. I should have known you weren’t to be trusted because you couldn’t follow through with a simple promise.
What else do we have to give to each other, but our promises?
I pretend not a single woman will talk to you at your new restaurant, a fancy steakhouse in Midtown. In fact, I imagine no females even come to your restaurant. You are cooking for a constant stream of men. Only men. Manhattan is made up only of men since I left. Anyways, what do I care that you’re going to trendy restaurant openings and glamorous glitzy socialite filled parties? I am down here in West Fucking Virginia trying for all the world to be happy, to avoid getting assaulted when I go running. I bought Mace last week. Mace. I imagine you getting home late, unpacking your groceries from Whole Foods: expensive fair trade coffee, half and half. You sit in silence listening to the ticking clock, missing me. A tear or two escapes. You are wretchedly, desperately lonely without me. The tears slide down your face. Your mouth holds a bitter flavor. Let me tell you, Chef, what you’re tasting is regret.
The Cold Hard Truth:
Remember the time? You were eating gummy bears in bed and one red bear escaped your mouth. When you woke up in the morning, I was gone. The gummy was in my place, like he’d been sleeping, too. We couldn’t stop laughing about it. That’s all you have now, Chef. Memories. Me, and the gummy are gone. Forever. We aren’t the coming back types.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any news to report in terms of dating. So far, so bleak. But I refuse to be deterred, and I remind myself that I did not, I repeat, did not plan on marrying you despite our various conversations about having a family. You said I would be a great mother. Well, duh. Women who have great mothers become great mothers, and you know just as well as I do that my Mom is a great one. Too bad. You snooze, you lose. You let me go, and I am lost to you. Lost without a return ticket. Do I sound melodramatic? Overwrought? I swear I’m not. I accept my nun-like existence and try to come up with reasons why I loved you in the first place.
Tonight, I roasted golden beets and chicken breast. I tried to learn how to French-braid my hair using a YouTube video. Mostly my arms got tired, and the braid kept coming undone, but I’ll keep practicing until I get it right. Tomorrow, I will hunt for new kitchen chairs to strip, sand, and repaint. Something bright, cheery. A fresh coat of paint masking scrapes and burns, covering over markings of the chair’s past life.
Somehow, between trying to stay happy and hating you, I find myself otherwise occupied.
I didn’t bother to say any of this to you, how hurt I was that you let me go so quickly. Love can be filled with trickery and treachery. I was made a fool. But I will survive you, yet. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in the garden, sitting on my new chair, a striking shade of red
Date: October Fifth, 2014
To: New York-The Big Apple-The City That Never Sleeps
From: Former Brooklyn Resident
Subject: I miss you. Please, let me come home now.
Can’t Get You Out of My Mind:
This is the worst breakup I’ve ever had. And believe me, I’ve had some bad ones. The thing is, I can’t get you out of my mind. I can’t watch movies about you. I can’t read magazines talking about anything that’s going on with you. It is obvious you’ve moved on, without me. It’s obvious that you don’t even notice I’m gone.
But I fall asleep at night picturing walking down Fifth Avenue stopping at the pie shop, or walking down to the water, looking across the river at your breathtaking skyline. In my dreams I am riding the train, packed up against a stranger, and I’m so happy-can’t breathe-can’t sleep-can’t eat-I’m just so damn fucking happy to be part of it.
Why Does It Hurt so Bad?
If only you would let me come back. I swear I won’t complain this time about having a college degree and working as a nanny. I won’t say a word about my night job, taking people to their tables at a restaurant. They called me a hostess. I swear I won’t talk about graduate school anymore, or trying to be a writer. If you take me back, I will be yours, faithfully, forever. I’ll do anything you want if you just let me have one everything bagel toasted with cream cheese and one tiny cup of drip coffee. I’d like to go to the library and sit quietly in the stacks. I’d like to walk down the subway stairs to the screeching grinding metal-on-metal. That’s not asking too much, is it?
I’d like to rush down the subway steps, trying to catch the orange F train before the doors slam shut. I fall asleep recalling biking out to Coney Island to watch the ancient Russian men, shirts off, tanning. I fall asleep pretending I can have one single day in which everything isn’t exactly the same as it was, before. I want noise. I want honking, beeping, yelling. Vitality. I want life.
I want to know that it’s all happening, and that I am happening, too.
But I live in West Virginia where everything is slow, backwards, hot. The morning sky is pink, delicate, and I don’t hate everything for thirty seconds before the sun fully rises, illuminating the scarred land-now home.
Cycle Of Love:
I try to recall all the times you slapped me down, tried to break me. All the times I missed my train or walked home in the wrong shoes when it was only seventeen degrees or stood in line for hours to buy a stamp. It didn’t matter how many curveballs you threw at me because I kept fighting. You respected that.
In exchange for all my fighting, you let me call you home, and that kindness I will never forget. I want you to know I won’t give up, until you let me come home. Because the truth is New York-I love you.
What Have I Done?
With a sick jolt I remember I made the decision to leave you. You didn’t make me go. I’ll never forget what it felt like to pack up all my belongings, to close the door to apartment 2M, while you stood by silently. I can’t forget how much it hurt to drive away, leaving your hustle, your bustle, your tall, straight lined beauty.
Leaving you was leaving a party early, when I really, really wasn’t ready to go. I try to comfort myself with remembering all the good times we had. Long, luxurious Sunday brunches, bars with soft orb lanterns, you always meticulously dressed up in your bright lights, putting out your best shows for Christmas, dazzling everyone with your glimmer and magic glow. You know there isn’t anywhere else like you. They mention Paris, but they are fooling themselves. Your security in your own greatness makes you smug. You are magic. You are possibility and hope. You are refuge, fame, fortune and luck. E.B. White wrote about you, no one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.
I was so damn lucky. I see it now.
About the Author: Kelsey Liebenson-Morse is currently working on her M.F.A at West Virginia University. She is an amateur baker and avid runner. Most recently her work appears in The Rappahannock Review and is forthcoming in Wraparound South’s “Food and The South” issue.
Artwork: Kristin Williamson