Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Anna Windemuth

Don't forget we're all strangers

I. Words Alone

They say it's the first time someone's been charged with involuntary manslaughter for words alone. This woman on CNN first used the phrase. Words alone. She was trying to be neutral about it, like she was just acknowledging a fact as fact, but I could tell she found the whole thing thrilling. They all did.

They frowned, they turned hearts into flimsy imagery – (heartbreaking, heartless, disheartened) – yet the creep of a smile lingered: at least I can see how this plays out for someone else. Like the Stanford prison experiments. We wouldn't do them again, but we're glad someone else did. There will be books, there might be feature films.

The law, she says to Anderson Cooper, so rarely moves abruptly with technology, with time. Judge Kollman made the bold decision to equate text messages and phone calls with warm breath in someone's ear. That girl whispered death to him. This area of the law is still so indeterminate. It takes a sharp legal mind to cut through these wires.

(The scroll underneath her talking head memorializes the phrase: words alone. Her hair is pinned into a pretzel, and she wears an American flag on her lapel.)

The messages were almost instantaneous, she insists, the contact between them constant. Their entire relationship was based on virtual communication. They saw each other three times a year. Really saw each other. His mother says she didn't even know the girl's name until they went through his phone. She only remembered her face from that one visit years ago. The way she averted her eyes. He had left the car, he had changed his mind, yet she ordered him to return, to shut the door, and he did, and he died.

If I had wanted Anthony to hear my warm breath in his ear, I would have intercepted him at the bent basketball hoop by his garage. I drove by it most days on the way to school. In the wintertime, when the sun came up later and indoor lights made homes open secrets, I would sometimes see him flexing in front of his mother's mirror. He had little to flex, but he liked the routine.

What about Judge Kollman's bony fingers? He's sixty-five. Of course any messages I sent seem conversational to him, so "instantaneous" they must be real whispers. Kollman doesn't get it. We send texts because they are not constrained by the same kind of time. They are more transparent, more representative of what we actually think, but also incomplete, always saddled by split silence. Speed does not transform them into warm breath.

They say my actions were wanton and willful. Everything seems willful to me, and I've never heard of wanton. They shouldn't be allowed to stuff my actions into empty letters. If I'm convicted of something, I at least want the satisfaction of picturing my charge, of seeing myself through their eyes. So I try to look up wanton, but I get sidetracked by its Middle English foremother, wantowen: rebellious, lacking discipline, unmanageable, unruly. I'm sad they castrated wantowen and turned her into the less inspiring wanton. I decide that if I get a prison tattoo, it will be of the word wantowen. A word alone.

I also want to ask: Why are you, a grown woman, wearing your hair that way? Is this a day of reckoning for America

II. Valley of the Dolls

It's funny to see newscasters struggle with our romance. They never quite know how to frame the fact that we rarely met in person, even though we could have met, even though our bodies passed each other almost every day.

they translate my mentality into hands pushing Anthony into his car, because without those hands, there would be no case.

Usually, it's teenage sex they're worried about. Our forays in chatrooms are just pretext for the dangerous swap of fluids that will be the death of this virtuous country.

For our story, bodies are conspicuously absent. They're scared because physical absence implies mental presence. We both knew what we were doing. The mind, to them, is more threatening than the body, yet they translate my mentality into hands pushing Anthony into his car, because without those hands, there would be no case.

When they announced I would be judged as an adult, I wanted to soothe my lawyer, stretch out the creases on her forehead until they fell off like pieces of string: It's okay, I expected another fiction of this kind. I only make sense to them this way.

Teenage sex is unnerving to them, but no sex, even more so. Especially when the two teenagers are attractive and mobile. My cheekbones are high and wide, my eyes steely, my breasts sizeable, my eyebrows thicker and darker than my hair in that trendy way. I imagine the courtroom light accentuates these features. After a long day of hearing about myself as a third person, I start to think of myself as this third person, and I see the tears freckling my face, and I wonder if the court has ever seen such beautiful suffering.

Anthony was more regular looking, not quite as healthy, less distinctive. That's why I've become the face of our story. I'm the deadly beauty they're always looking for.

He spotted me before the world did. We had all our classes together sophomore year, but silently agreed that we would only look at each other during physical education. It seemed fitting, to acknowledge our bodies at this time.

We wore uniforms: dark blue, knee-length shorts, striped polo shirts and high, white socks for the boys. Dark blue skorts, checkered polo shirts and white ankle socks for the girls. I led a movement for a girl's right to choose between regular shorts and that ridiculous, feminine hybrid. Anthony started his own movement to let guys choose ankle socks. I couldn't tell if he was making fun of me or just trying to match me, but he was right: ankle socks were more elegant. By the time the administration gave in, I had grown attached to my skort and kept it on. I decided this was the real epitome of social progress: not gaining a right, but rejecting it.

When the boys occupied their section of the field, I always looked for the lone pair of ankle socks, often followed by a trail of whispered faggot. This made the other girls laugh, but it felt marvelous to me because I recognized him as more than a pair of searching eyes decked out in the same, three-part outfit as the other boys. The ankle socks turned his form into flesh. This might have been a memory I changed in a dream, but I can see him flashing his ankles at me, coquettish and calm in the face of faggot.

A few days later, I received a text from an unknown number: I've been thinking a lot about this movie, Valley of the Dolls, and I've been thinking I'd like to know what someone else would think about it. I texted back: Yes. He texted back: Saturday at 3.

He must have seen me drive by his house by then, since he gave no address. Or maybe he didn't tell me on purpose, so in the hours leading up to our appointment, when his hands would become clammy and he would regret ever flashing his ankles at me, he could find comfort in the possibility that I wouldn't know where to go, that I would sit in my car, waiting for him to find me, until the clock flashed past three.

I wanted to respond when his mother asked about my name, but he waved both of us aside, like we were missing the point of this entire moment.

We decided to make out before watching the movie because that way we could really watch the movie. His mouth didn't open very wide at first. When I closed my eyes, I saw him as a goldfish blowing bubbles, soft and confused. This went on for a few minutes. When I opened my eyes, I found him staring at me. He apologized, he couldn't kiss with his eyes closed, it made him feel too lost. I traced the circle of his lips with my tongue.

His mother called for him downstairs to bring up a plate of buck-eyes and some lemonade. While he was gone, I opened his bedside drawer because nothing else in his room could be opened. There were only flat surfaces: an intermittently filled bookshelf – (no trinkets to make it look like he read more than he did) – a stretch of pine for a desk, a blank whiteboard with magnetized pens, a curtain-less rod to prop up his clothes, of which there were several replica items, like a cartoon character's.

I thought I might find his stash of ankle socks in the drawer. Instead, I found letters. Most of them were addressed to Wendy, from Bryant. A few of them were addressed to Bryant, from Wendy. They were fingered and worn, but in a distant way, like the reader was desperate to understand something he never would. I wondered if I secretly wanted a mother who made buck-eyes and lemonade.

He said we didn't have to watch the entire movie, just the part he had been thinking about because it troubled him: a young starlet finds her husband having sex with another woman in their swimming pool. She yells the woman away, then turns to her husband and calls him a fag. He accuses her of being too tired, of never wanting him as a man. She calls him a fag again. He never directly responds to the accusation. The film rolls on.

Anthony asked if the scene made any sense to me. The woman in the swimming pool was a woman, wasn't she? In that moment, I couldn't remember. I said it made me tired. I said I would think about it and text him later.


Our mothers worked together at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Anthony's mother didn't grasp the connection until way later because we don't look alike unless we're crying. Then our faces unfold like those cubed washcloths that need water to decompress, and people wonder how we could have ever taken on different forms.

All I knew about my mother's workplace was that the buzzing numbers gave her migraines. When she was alone in the office, she shut down the system and took customers in order of desperation. She said life rarely did that, tend to those who looked ready to fall to pieces instead of those with the right ticket. I didn't like the waiting room because I couldn't remember a change of carpeting in ten years and the vending machine rarely had Milk Duds.

Anthony said I was missing the point of the DMV, like his mother and I had missed the point of my visit by negotiating my name with our eyes.

- It's one of those places where people are systematically gathered for no reason. It's a no-place.

- I think you mean liminal space. Like in-between things, right?

- No-place is better. It wouldn't exist if we collectively decided to ignore what makes it official. It just holds bodies waiting for blank forms.

- I still don't get why you like hanging out there.

- If I'm there to watch people, then it's a fiction of my own. Being there to be watched by me is technically just as valid as being there to wait for a number on a buzzer. They're equally arbitrary alternatives.

- So you're like, hijacking bureaucracy.

- Exactly.

- Does your mom know?

- What do you mean know?

- Like does she see you.

- No. I know where her counter is so I can avoid it.

- My mom sees you.

- I see her, too. She's one of the only people there who takes your photo again if it's shitty.

- No way.

- I thought you should know.

Anthony made me feel like I was reliving that childhood moment when you realize that focusing your eyes on one object, then leaving one eye open and the other closed, then switching eyes again and again first slowly, then faster and faster, changes your perception of the image, and you want to run outside screaming does everybody know this miracle of our eyes and minds, or am I the only one, except this time the answer might be yes, you are the only ones. Why would I slaughter someone who made me feel this way?

Why would I slaughter someone who made me feel this way?

My mother knew Anthony as the boy who insisted on posting organ donation notices. Most of her colleagues had customized cubicles: patterned curtains, themed mousepads, photographs of children with pumpkins and menorahs and Easter eggs. When I asked her why she didn't post one of my botched school portraits, she said she didn't like the idea because seeing photos like that always made her think for a split second that the person was dead – a cheery vigil, often accompanied by crayon renditions of humans with monstrously long legs. Why force people to look at these ghost children as you checked boxes and initialed, wondering if they could picture you giving birth, or having sex, or finding love? (She didn't say this last thought in so many words, but I like to imagine her saying it.) So she posted Anthony's notices: You're more likely to need an organ donation than to donate an organ. Nurses and doctors will still do their best to save you. Choose life.

- My mom showed me pics of your project at the DMV. I have some notes.

- It's not a project. Just noticed she had free room.

- I don't like some of the slogans. Choose life sounds really evangelical. I seriously started looking for baby killer undertones.

- You didn't find any.

- No… But I tried.

- I thought it would be a good trap. Pro-baby people aren't necessarily pro-people people. Give them a phrase they have warm and fuzzy feelings about. Maybe the two principles will align…

- Fine. You might still scare away pro-choice pro-people people, but fine.

- Any more notes?

- That thing about nurses and doctors doing their best. Do people seriously think that's a risk?

- I can see it. Like maybe they'll start weighing your life as a fuck-up organ donor against the poor kid with a promising future who needs your heart.

- They should totally do that. Draw up a list of pros and cons.

- Then my poster'd be wrong.

I assumed Anthony hung up the notices out of pragmatism. He once reused the same section of tin foil for sixty consecutive tuna melts. He didn't give a shit about the environment, but couldn't stand waste. Now I think he might have savored the irony. My mother returning to work at the DMV the day after his body tumbled out of the car to find her pro-life office shredded and smeared. A whole bag of fresh organs spoiled under her watch.

IV. Lemur Center

Touring the Lemur Center with our class felt a lot like physical education. Our bodies mingled again. Guardians were bitter and underpaid. We naturally coalesced along gender lines. Realizing our sheer volume on occasions like this always shocked me. How could they possibly remember us all? I imagined they didn't. We tried to pass another group of kids about our age. Because the walkway was so narrow we had to mingle for a few seconds, and I wondered if I could end up on a different trip and head back to a different school for a different life. I'd be a mislabeled baby at a hospital, swaddled and free.

- Running into other classes on trips is so weird. I get this sense of mutual distrust. Turf wars.

- Or like we just saw our alter egos.

- Maybe they're us if we had made different life-changing decisions.

- Demonic mutations. Antonio! You with a unibrow and bad skin.

- Have you seen Sliding Doors? It's from the 90s.

- Omg yes Gwyneth Paltrow. That movie gave me the creeps. Two different life paths depending on whether she catches a frickin train.

- Do you buy it?

- It's kind of dramatic but I guess so, yeah. The tiniest shit can make you change tracks.

- I have nightmares about it sometimes.

- Gwyneth Paltrow is pretty terrifying.

- Paha no not Gwyneth. Just the infinity of options. I see this room with a table, chair and flower in it. I realize there are endless combinations. If I move the flower slightly, there's a new variation of the room. Then I move the flower and the chair. Then I move the flower differently, and the chair the same way. That's another combination. It just goes on forever.

- Can you take action in your dreams?

- Sometimes. If I concentrate.

- Next time you should move them all at once. Then the combinations would shrink away and you'd realize it's just you in a room with some shit.

- Maybe that's even worse. Just me in a room.

- Maybe.

A lemur finger directed us to the screening room. Our tour guide was an old man in shorts. Gary. He said lemurs are from Madagascar, but people study them in Paris and North Carolina. I felt sorry for the lemurs who missed out on Paris. They seemed to know it.

Only the blue-eyed ones got celebrity names. Jodie Foster, Leonardo DiCaprio, Helen Mirren. I started to wonder if all celebrities have blue eyes. An empty cage was labeled Robert Redford. Anthony asked if they'd moved him because he was bothering Jodie Foster like he had on The Hot Zone set. Nobody laughed. I would have, but I never laugh at jokes so I don't miss anything. Gary said Robert had died, then segued into how most lemurs form female-dominated societies even though they're primates like us. Even though. If I'd laughed, I might have missed all that.

- I just looked up poor Robert. Guess how he died.

- I hope Jodie got him.

- Nope. Avocados.

- ???

- They fed some of the lemurs avocados last year. Not usually in their diet. They killed off two of the center's elders by accident.

- I bet Gary did it.

- I wish I could die by avocado.

- Avocados are yummy but I'm not sure that means it'd be painless.

- True. But research on avocados would be less conspicuous than carbon monoxide or poisonous lilies.

- Have you been using incognito windows like I told you? No way your mom could even check deleted browser history.

- Funny thing actually I'm pretty sure she caught me the other day.

- What'd she say?

- Nothing. Not 100% sure she saw but actually it seems pretty "her" not to say anything. She did the same thing when she found my jerkoff socks. I know she thinks it's sinful or gross or whatever but she would never confront me. Extent of confrontation for her = a stack of freshly laundered jerkoff socks.

- Makes it easier in a way. If she's too uptight to protest, she'll def be fine without you.

- I know you looked at my letters by the way. I want you to know it's ok. I like the side of you that scares me a little. Makes me wonder where else you've been unsupervised…

- Ok…

- It's a curated mess of papers. I noticed they'd been touched. What did you think of them?

- They seemed dated I guess. Lovey. I felt sad for you when I looked at them.

- They're conversations between my parents before they were married. Mom calls them courtship papers.

- Don't tell me you get off on that.

- Nah. I get off on a lot of weird things but not that. She gave them to me as kind of an aspirational thing. What love should look like.

- When?

- As a kid. During one of my "difficult phases." The letters shut me up. I still remember the epiphany: they've always loved each other more than they love you. A gentle nudge that I should absorb their words and find a love like that of my own.

- Leave them to themselves.

Gary showed us two different kinds of lemurs. Ring-tailed and Aye-aye. I liked the Aye-ayes best. They have elongated middle fingers to tap on trees so they can find grubs, then scoop them out to eat. So perfectly adapted. Plus their eyes are wider apart so they look like they're always searching for something. Gary said most lemurs are sexually dimorphic: you can tell a female lemur from a male one without checking their organs. Females are brown and males are black. The concept seemed to make sense for a few seconds, but then it didn't anymore.

- So are humans sexually dimorphic?

- I don't know. Maybe that depends on whether the concept incorporates gender performativity.

- Even then though, some people are more "performative" than others. And does wearing lots of makeup or muscle tees or whatever necessarily correspond with "gender" as nature imagines it?

- We should totally ask Greg.

- I can see him manspreading at home with a good Judith Butler article.

- Could be a question of degree. Like some lemurs are 100% dimorphic, some humans are like 40%?

- Could be.

- I originally thought that scene you showed me from Valley of the Dolls was just Hollywood chickening out on gay sex, but then I thought maybe we should give them more credit.

- I came to the same conclusion, but then I got stuck on the credit part.

- I think it makes us divorce sexual digression from gender. It's not about the other body in the swimming pool. It's about doing something bad, and that something bad is automatically gay.

I tried to will a keychain of an anatomically accurate Aye-aye's middle finger into the gift store, but of course they only sold oversized t-shirts.

V. Hybristophilia

Just because I disagree with Judge Kollman and the CNN lady and most talking heads about texting and manslaughter doesn't mean I don't know I'm dangerous. People do dangerous things all the time. They lift weights with their earlobes, their eye-sockets, their tongues, they freeclimb the Yosemite Triple Crown, they set themselves on fire, they drive in the rain. Getting in a car and turning on the motor in a closed garage is dangerous. Texting me about it could be a bit more so.

Women who get off on men who commit gruesome crimes have a name: hybristophiliacs. The term doesn't technically just apply to women, but the studies and blog posts and encyclopedias are all concerned with women loving dangerous men, never men loving dangerous women.

Getting in a car and turning on the motor in a closed garage is dangerous. Texting me about it could be a bit more so.

Hybristophiliacs experience abnormal sexual desire from a brand of hubris: "committing an outrage against someone." I wish I had looked this up when Anthony was alive because we both thought the hero's journey unit in English was tedious, that hubris was just a fancy word for boring human failure, self-directed, a home-made parasite. He would have appreciated the hubris in hybristophilia for clinging to others, for giving the term relational meaning.

- I've been thinking a lot about Frankenstein lately.

- The book or the cult figure.

- Neither. The 1950s movie. I watched it alone I think, when I was a kid. Was the first time I came close to orgasm.

- ???

- Don't worry, I'm not into necrophilia. ;)

- Who was the hottie?

- That's the thing. It wasn't a person. It was more like a general feeling. Do you remember the story at all?

- Kind of. Sad, misunderstood monster. Power gets to doc's head. Someone dies?

- When the doc is hanging out with his research assistant or whatever, and he's about to activate the monster, he gives this long speech about how he has to confront his creation on his own. He tells the assistant to lock the door when he goes in to face it, to keep the door closed at all costs, not to respond even if he says himself that he changed his mind, cries and claws for help etc.

- No safe word???

- The door has this small window at the top, so when the doc goes in and faces the monster you and the assistant watch everything through this tiny square. The body slowly rises, the hands jerk out, there's moaning and trembling. The doc begs for help and says his plea not to listen to pleas about changing his mind is itself a shitty plea.

- Meta. Does the assistant give in?

- He just lets the doc stay there with the monster. Even when it sounds like the doc is really going crazy in there. He lets him be so the doc can experience what his purest self had intended. It's like the assistant makes the doc a more unified version of himself. No more schizophrenia.

- So does the doc die?

- I don't even remember. I just liked the assistant's reaction. I remember it felt so good that I would rewind the cassette tape on my own and just watch that scene again to get the same feeling.

Wikipedia says hybristophilia is "accepted as potentially lethal." I think I should also be accepted as potentially lethal. That doesn't mean I'm illegal. Maybe that's a better tattoo than wantowen. Accepted as potentially lethal.

I tried to imagine what a hybristophiliac would look up on the internet. I found this twitter handle @DailyKillerFact. Over 80,000 followers. "We do not condone or idolize. 18+ recommended due to photos." Richard Ramirez is the face of the account. He died of complications from B-cell lymphoma five years ago. I feel sorry for him because I'm sure he wouldn't want people to think the handle's grammar mistakes are a product of his beautiful head.

High cheekbones, androgynous chin, full lips, thick, curly hair. A dark cherub. His prison uniform is misaligned with his white undershirt.

Some posts require an extra click for "sensitive information." One is a gif of a beautiful woman tossing her hair in court. It's Ramirez. I watch it nineteen times. Before re-watching it each time I switch to a different window so I can experience the effect of seeing his decontextualized head at first glance again, like the old rabbit-duck illusion, or the vase and the two faces looking at each other, but each time I see a beautiful woman. I almost text Anthony about it, but then I imagine officers and lawyers and journalists reading over my words and I stop. I wish I could tell Anthony that maybe I was all wrong about Valley of the Dolls. Maybe the young starlet saw a man, even after she turned on the lights and chased the running, naked body into the California brush. Maybe she tried picturing it nineteen times.

Ramirez used handguns, knives, machetes, tire irons, hammers. "The Night Stalker," "The Walk-In Killer," "The Valley Intruder." I'm not serial so I don't think I'll get a name. Words alone will have to be enough.

- I won't open the door, I'll let you experience your purest self, even if you scratch at your arms until they're red and runny, even if you promise to fuck me in the DMV.

Some women say they like the thrill of potential victimhood. Or they like the challenge, the possibility of shaping monsters anew, of making up for twisted time. I think it's because the relationship can never be consummated. The guy isn't accessible enough to become annoying in the ways we all do: flooding the bathroom after a shower, leaving books other people gave us unfinished, laughing too loudly at things that aren't funny. Moments of disconnection. Without such moments, the women forget: everyone but ourselves is a stranger.

VI. Prom

Anthony said he needed me that night. I wouldn't have gone otherwise. Neither of us had dates. That in itself didn't bother me, but I like to do things fully, and there was no time to prepare. He didn't need to explain why this night. It made sense to me. Other kids would be drinking for the first time, or having sex for the first time, and he would be dying for the first time.

My least favorite question from reporters and lawyers and bloggers so far has been was he gay? Is that why he killed himself? Anthony and I thought everyone was gay. Sexuality and gender were a forced union to us, better left in separate twin beds like a pragmatic married couple.

I admit Anthony's mother was upset. She might not have thought he was gay, but she thought he was alone, and the thought of him alone and therefore closer to her was disruptive. She, too, looked through Anthony's letters in his bedside drawer to make sure he was still fingering them. Anthony said he could detect her perfume on them. She must have been surprised when he asked for the car. She must have assumed he wouldn't need one to mount some young girl in the suburban night. The car must have given her hope, and like the DMV posters, I imagined Anthony enjoyed the future irony of his mother realizing she had experienced joy at the very detail that would lead to his crimson head hanging from his shoulders. She would wonder how she could have known so little about him, and in time, she would find this comforting. Even when he was supposedly there to love, he had passed her by.

Anthony was wearing one of his usual outfits: dark blue skinny jeans and a black, long-sleeved shirt. His hair was uncharacteristically gelled and parted down the middle. It made him look like a little boy after a bath. I had a quick thought: this was how he wanted to be seen when he died. His questionable taste almost made me change my mind. We danced on opposite sides of the room.

- My parents are out for a while. Date night.

- Trying to relive their prom romance alongside yours?

- Nah. Saturday's always date night. Then they come back and have loud sex in the living room because they think I go to bed early.

- You do go to bed early.

- Not on date night.

A boy named Franklin asked me to dance. He had a caveman's jawbone and a head in the shape of a thumb. He would be one of the local kids who vandalized my mom's cubicle. I regret not stepping on his feet more forcefully. When I looked up from our foot negotiations, Anthony was gone.

I would do all I could to make him act in his purest interest. The door was still his to close.

I like to see how long I can go at a party just walking around, touring other people. Tonight felt different because Anthony was no longer watching me. I had promised to be his assistant without realizing that I might need an assistant of my own to keep me locked in the gym. But I had made a promise. I would do all I could to make him act in his purest interest. The door was still his to close.

- Made it. Lights are out in the house. Started up the motor.

- Did you make sure all of the little windows are closed?

- Last night yeah.

- Listen to the CD I gave you. Now Now. Her voice puts me to sleep. In a thoughtful way.

Lady Gaga was playing in the gym. Some kid who wasn't even drunk stepped and tripped on a balloon. The paramedic could finally unpack his little suitcase with the cross on it. He took great care bandaging the kid's ankle, like he was mending a bird's broken wing.

- I don't know if I can anymore. I'm so dizzy but I still want out.

- Give into the dizziness. That's a good sign.

- I'll miss you.

- You're getting stronger every second you wait. Go second by second.

- I'll miss you.

Franklin was voted prom king. His head looked even more like a thumb in the spotlight. We didn't have a prom queen that year to make a statement about female objectification. In practice, it just seemed like we were celebrating men. Franklin shimmied and stared. For all he knew, we could have been cannibals waiting for our meal to tire itself out.

- I'm outside. Will try again another time. Not working for me.

I called from the bathroom. Anthony's voice was lower than I remembered. Even though I heard it addressed to other people in passing, it hadn't been mine alone since Valley of the Dolls. I said get back in the car, you're almost there, it's painless and sweet, you've wanted this, you'll be reborn just as everyone else is lost in the repetition of prom and date night, your monster is waiting, you can claw at the door of the car and weep, but know that you're acting out your most unified self, your mind as you like to imagine it at its best.

He asked simply: Will you miss me? I thought you might miss me, but you didn't say anything when I said I would miss you.

I said I will miss you so much that I will keep the door shut as you let go to Now Now, that I will tour parties as if you are watching, that I will dance with a boy who looks like a thumb. If I didn't miss you, I'd send over the paramedic, who would tend to you like a broken bird.

We hung up together.

Anna Windemuth is a writer from Berlin, Germany. She is currently a student at Yale Law School. Her work focuses on distorted family dynamics and unlikable female protagonists. She received the Joyce Carol Oates award in fiction from Princeton University's creative writing department. Her novel in progress, Haxo, is about a young gay reporter in Paris who grapples with her own cruelty.