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In reference to your recent communications.

Dearest Randolph,

I am writing in reference to the string of voice mails you recently left me. Although I understand that there were outside forces acting upon you, your messages nonetheless sounded rash and not fully thought out. I want to take this opportunity to go over some of your main points and offer a response, since your means of communication left me no obvious path by which to do so. I assume, of course, that you have all of our previous communications for reference, including, but not limited to, letters, electronic mail, phone messages, and transcripts of conversations crucial to the progress of our relationship. (1)

Message 1: Confusion

(a) [Exhalation] Jess [sic], it's Randy [sic]. (b) I've been thinking a lot about us and, well, I just don't know if it's the best thing for me, well, for both of us right now. (c) I know we've talked about it--well, kind of--but I really think I need to take a break. Call me back. Bye. 1 (a). [Exhalation] Jess [sic], it's Randy [sic].

Your introduction ("Jess, it's Randy"), preceded as it is by a pronounced exhale, suggests that you are unsure about how to proceed; perhaps you feel socially or otherwise obligated to distance yourself from me. Consider your motives in calling: If you are responding to pressure from friends and/or family, please remember that the only feelings on which this relationship is contingent are yours and, of course, mine. I here refer to a comment from your mother that states, "Randy, are you sure about this one? She seems, oh, I don't know, eccentric." (2) This comment and others lead me to believe that you are acting on the advice of your peers and relatives, who have led you to believe that they have your best interests at heart. (3)

1 (b). I've been thinking a lot about us and, well, I just don't know if it's the best thing for me, well, for both of us right now.

You make clear that you are confused about the direction of our relationship and the benefits it bestows upon each of us. The advantages of our partnership arise in all spheres of our lives. First, recall that the acquisition of your current job at Benson Atwater, Inc., was based on an interview procured for you by the husband of my dear friend. Second, consider the incontrovertible sexual benefits you have been receiving from me, arguably since our sixteenth date and undoubtedly since our twenty-third. (4) And finally, since we began seeing each other, you have lost thirteen pounds, raised your annual income by more than $10,000 a year, and present a much more appealing odor than prior to the commencement of our relationship. (5) Further, if you are cheating on me, as I presume you are, I would also add that no woman besides me would have engaged in sexual intercourse with you four years ago.

1 (c). I know we've talked about it--well, kind of--but I really think I need to take a break. Call me back. Bye.

Your dismissal of the conversation to which this sentence refers makes clear that you have not been investing the energy that a successful relationship demands of the parties involved. (6) Putting more effort into our sexual life would also help things out. You may or may not be aware of this, but you have really been dropping the ball in the bedroom lately. (7)

Message 2: Doubt

(a) Jess [sic], it's Randy [sic]. We really need to talk. Frankly, things haven't been going so well lately. (b) You can't say you don't feel it, too. (c) Oh--and sorry about all that stuff with your guinea pig. Bye.

2(a). Jess [sic], it's Randy [sic]. We really need to talk. Frankly, things haven't been going so well lately.

Actually, Randolph, things have been going great, but you insist on sabotaging our healthy, thriving relationship because you subconsciously want to ruin your life. I've been worried about you for a long time now. You seem to enjoy harming yourself. This is called masochism. I believe it has a great deal to do with your mother. I would suggest distancing yourself from her while the wounds heal. (8)

2(b). You can't say you don't feel it, too.

You are right, Randolph; I can't say I haven't felt it. I have felt the tension in our relationship from the stress your self-loathing behaviors have caused. I have felt the tension caused by your staggering home at four in the morning reeking of alcohol. I have felt the friction caused by our emotional estrangement. But I digress. This tension stems not from some deep-rooted problem but rather from the healthy growth of our relationship. Strong partners work through problems together, which is why I am here to help you work through yours. I know that you have issues with intimacy, with women, and with erectile efficiency, plus an anal-expulsive fixation, (9) but I am here to guide you as we address these profoundly disturbing "issues," of which you seem to have an endless supply.

2(c). Oh--and sorry about all that stuff with your guinea pig. Bye.

Let us clarify what "all that stuff" is: Your dog, jealous of my beautiful guinea pig from the start, mauled Tootsie II, while you, horrified by what your "best friend" Boxer's vicious hatred could do, stood idle. I was sympathetic enough to be conscious of your feelings and have Boxer put down while you were at work the next day, in order to save you unnecessary heartache. Further, to support you through the grieving process, what could have been better than an adorable new guinea pig? I understand your surprise on finding Boxer gone, replaced by Doodles, a beautiful new guinea, but I assure you that it is for the best. When you finally come to your senses and return home, you will be moved by the tenderness that exists between Doodles and Tootsie II--now a triple amputee.

Message 3: The Worst Mistake of Your Life

(a) I think I'm going to crash with Jay for a while, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't come by or call me. (b) Um, bye.

3(a). I think I'm going to crash with Jay for a while, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't come by or call me.

It is here that I realize what a strong influence your friends, especially Jay, must have had on the decision you claim to have made independently. (10) There have been numerous actions on their part over the course of our relationship that have made it quite clear to me (as I assume was their goal) that I do not meet their "standards" for you. (11) I believe the fact that you are "going to crash with Jay" strongly supports my hypothesis that the opinions of your "buddies" have been critical in convincing you to leave me. I implore you to rise above their petty lies.

3(b). Um, bye.

Whenever you do something you know is wrong, you speak about it with a proliferation of "um"s. For example, two years ago, when your friends whisked you away to Atlantic City for the weekend, your explanation upon return was riddled with "um"s--fifty-three, actually, in a four-minute period. These "um"s increased exponentially when I exposed, from deep within your jacket pocket, a casino gambling chip and a cocktail napkin with a phone number on it. (12) From the "urn" in your phone message, I can therefore infer that you are fully conscious of the mistake you are making.

Concluding Remarks

You may or may not have already noticed that all of your bank accounts are frozen and that your credit cards are inactive. I also disabled your cellular phone. I regret having to take such extreme measures, but I feel that this is entirely in your best interests. I wanted to prevent any rash purchases on your part as you attempt to fill the emotional void you surely are experiencing right now. Further, I felt it necessary to encourage you not to leave the state or communicate with Jay and his cohorts.

Speaking of Jay, by this point you are probably aware that he has been jailed on the charge of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. The repercussions that this will have on his personal and professional lives are potentially devastating, and it is with his and your futures in mind that I reiterate the importance of keeping some distance between yourself and what is soon to be a convicted felon.

The next few years will be quite difficult for Jay, and while he struggles to put his life back together I hope you will find the energy and wisdom to rededicate yourself to our relationship. I look forward to the progress we will undoubtedly make in the coming months.

With love, and hope for your future, Jessica

(1) I will be referring in particular to the communications of the past six months, in addition to various communications from over the course of the past four years, including (but, again, not limited to) Thanksgiving with your family in November of 2002 and the events related to your 2003 trip to Atlantic City.

(2) Overheard in the kitchen of the McKellen residence, on the evening of November 25, 2002, at approximately 9:02 P.M. Central Time.

(3) I would also like to point out, with, of course, no disrespect intended, that your mother is a frigid bitch who has had it out for me since the moment we met. Additionally, do not assume that your family life has given you a good understanding of what a healthy relationship is, especially in light of the fact that your father has been screwing, for the past eight months, your brother's fiancee.

(4) These dates are based on the first time you were given oral sex, on October 5, 2000, and the first time we had intercourse, on November 12, 2000. Additional sexual favors were granted over the course of the relationship that I believe have more than fully met your sexual needs and desires.

(5) These figures are based on analysis of weight gain/loss patterns, average annual incomes, and hygiene habits of the past seven years.

(6) Excerpt from conversation on September 3, 2004, at approximately 7:09 P.M. Eastern Standard Time:

Randolph: I can't believe we've been together more than four years.

Jessica: I can.

Randolph: But, do you ever think about what things would be like if we'd never met?

Jessica: How sad and lonely your life would be? I try not to dwell on it. I'm just glad we did find each other.

Randolph: Do you think everyone has only one person who's made for them?

Jessica: Oh, Randolph, what a sweet thing to say!

Randolph: Do you think maybe we aren't each other's?

Jessica: Do you want to know what else is out there? Floozies. Gold diggers. Drug addicts. Think about what I've done for you. Don't you see that your life would be worse without me?

Randolph: I guess you could look at it that way, but--

Jessica: Yes, you could.

(7) Yes, I've been faking it.

(8) I understand from firsthand experience that she unwantedly imposes herself on you. I therefore support any decision you make regarding moving or changing our telephone number without granting contact information to the abovementioned.

(9) Need I mention this noxious habit of yours?

(10) Jay in particular is an exceptionally destructive man. I refer specifically to a disturbing episode in which, while organizing your drawers. I came upon a photo of my Tootsie 1 in Atlantic City, pushed into the cleavage of some trashy hotel-bar waitress and being forced to take a shot of tequila, with Jay smiling maniacally, in the back. ground. I only pray that this alcohol was fatal, and that my beautiful guinea pig was not subjected to further abuses before she perished in that cesspool of sin. Had I reported Jay to PETA or a similar organization, he most likely would have been shot.

(11) These include, but are not limited to, the following:

* The "Still a Bachelor" party they have thrown for you on the evenings preceding all four of our anniversaries;

* The "RANDY IS RANDY" shirt they made you for your birthday last year;

* The whip I received in the mail three weeks ago;

* The prostitute who arrived at our apartment last Thursday.

(12) And no, Randolph, I do not believe that this was Jay's cousin's cell-phone number.

Tessa Brown is a freshman at Princeton University. This is her first published story.
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Author:Brown, Tessa
Publication:Harper's Magazine
Article Type:Short Story
Date:May 1, 2005
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