I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.
It gets harder to see Alex. East End Beach—normally unpopular—is packed most of the time, even in the evenings after I get off work. Twice I show up to meet him and it’s too dangerous for us to talk or make a sign to each other, except for the quick nod that might pass between two strangers. Instead we lay out beach towels fifteen feet apart on the sand. He slips on his headphones and I pretend to read. Whenever our eyes meet my whole body lights up like he’s lying right next to me, rubbing his hand on my back, and even though he keeps a straight face, I can tell by his eyes that he’s smiling. Nothing has ever been so painful or delicious as being so close to him and being unable to do anything about it: like eating ice cream so fast on a hot day you get a splitting headache.