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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Trying to write a letter. Something I wrote for class (and my life.)

Dear N,

Yesterday I worked a ten hour day at the shop. About five hours into the day, a family with four or five kids came in. Two of the boys climbed onto the booth next to the last freezer and leaned over the back to watch me scoop their allergen free ice cream. One of the boys was named N—which got me thinking of you.

I wish I could say it was the first time in weeks I’d thought of you, but that’s not true—as evidenced by random calls and emails.

I know the timing was never right, and that I handled everything poorly, everything. I wish I hadn’t been such a wreck about my feelings and yours. That I’d just kept my expectations in check and just laid off.

Dear N,

It’s the start of my third week as a manager at the shop and I’m exhausted.

Dear N,

I’m sitting at the shop, my shop, waiting for customers. I have been trying to write you for a couple days, but every letter sounds fake, too carefully written. That’s the problem with being a writer—everything becomes a screenplay or short story and is removed from me, the person. On paper, you get a well-scripted character.

Dear N,

Why would I bother writing a letter after so many months of silence from you? On Sunday, I had a customer with a 5-year old son named N. He was blond with glasses an climbed up on the booth next to the freezer I was working in, to watch me dip him a scoop of cotton candy.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since. Then last night, my writing teacher gave us our assignment. It is to write about an argument we’ve lost.

Dear N,

Hey. How’s the internship going? Haven’t heard from you in ages.


I still can’t believe how badly I fucked this all up. It’s not a mystery to me—I know every misstep I took along the way.

Now I sit at my shop, on the North side of Chicago, thinking about you and coming to terms with the fact that you aren’t going to write or call or answer the phone.

Nope. I fucked up royally. Lucky for me, you were never dishonest about your feelings. I don’t know what might have happened if I hadn’t been to quick to respond with neediness from London. If I’d decided against writing you as I left Minneapolis.

A million perfectly places words won’t change that you’ve seen my at my worst—unrealistic expectations, afraid of opportunity, homesick, quick-tempered, needy.

And the more I try to fix things, the more I fear I seem obsessed. But I’ve given moving on a log of effort. I deleted your emails, hid the photos, tried to forget your phone number. I’ve answered personal ads, placed an ad in Esquire, gone speed dating, and tried dating friends.

Then what? I walk up to the train platform and run into a guy with a Gophers hat on. A little kid named N spends his time watching me work. I get an assignment to write about a time I lost the argument.

And I think about you. And I hold back tears. I’d hoped to be on speaking terms by Memorial Day, but I know that won’t happen.

I can’t believe I ruined the possibility of being with you. It felt so great, when I was in Minneapolis, to hear you support me against Tony’s insistence that I stay at IES. To feel like I’d made a difference in your job search.

I hope I hear from you, because as hard as I’ve tried, I haven’t met anyone else.

Dear N,

I’m sorry.


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