story a day #2: MY PEN PAL GOT SHOT

My age or older. Her hair got stuck in doors, so she threatened to cut it. Once there was a long hair of hers, stuck to a piece of tape. It could have been anyone's. I still have the envelope. She was a flute player, color blind, meat-eating, strapped for cash. My husband would bring in the letters for me, smirking, but he had this pen pal vicariously. I'd only tell him the basics, I never showed him a picture. This was an assignment in second grade. I had wanted a boy so I could get married, but they paired us so we wouldn't get too excited. My classmates' letters were perfunctory. Pet's name? Pet peeves? Tv? Foods? All favorites, like an interview. I filled up pages with confessions and stickers. I hate my mom! I wrote, My brother smokes! I looked in a mirror and took pains in exactness. My eyes are one inch, I think, I told. Her letters called her father a hotdog, that she was the prettiest girl in her homeroom. I was impressed. She was a bank of all my secrets and this went through high school and college, the internet, her job doing massages on a cruise boat. When I was in the hospital, I could have made it sound like an artist residency, but I resisted. It is possible that if I heard her voice, it would have repelled me, my husband liked to argue. That I could be as happy writing to the toilet. He is a jealous man. Anyone I talk to at the grocery, he sharpens his ears at. I found out through a search engine about my pal. She was shot by her lover, some guy I hadn't heard of. Her funeral is going on right now, but I'm just sitting at home.

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