Goddamn New YorkI’ve never met you, but I miss you. I think of you and feel as if New York is my enemy, the dragon in the fairy tale guarding the princess. Not that I think you’re a princess. You get the point.

I don’t know if it’s because you’re far away that I was able to idealize and romanticize you to the point of infatuation. The longer it goes on, the more I realize it has to stop. Or start.

I just want the chance to know you, to meet you. I want the chance to sit in a dark theater and rub knees with you. Let my hand linger a little too long when we simultaneously reach into the shared popcorn.

This is what I want.

The thought of you is like a cool marble in my pocket that I reach in and touch throughout the day. For the pleasure of touching it. For the way it feels perfect and wonderful between my fingers. I don’t take it out. I just enjoy it right where it is, enjoy knowing it is there whenever I’d like to feel it.

They existYour voice. The closest I’ve gotten to you. Your voice is like sneaking into the park at night, fifteen years old. We’d squirm through a hole in the fence, climb the ladder up to the spire in the big bright yellow castle, and look out over the scene. I can almost smell the cigarettes, hear them smoldering, see the small points of orange light dancing in the dark as we spoke in hushed tones. The whole place bathed in moon hues, reflecting off the slide, illuminating the sand with an eerie blue glow. We played hide and seek. Who’s out there? Is it Mike? Will he kiss me when I find him, behind a tree, where no one can see us? It is a surreal and private paradise, a parallel world. Your voice is like that, exhilarating and mysterious. Dangerous.

I used to fall in love with the characters in stories. I wished I could meet a boy just like Encyclopedia Brown. I was sad when the books were over, always wanted them to go on, wanted to spend just a few more hours with the characters I knew so well. I could imagine myself in the story with these characters. I could actually imagine falling in love with them, the things they would say to me. I could imagine anything. That’s how this is. That’s how I feel about you. I can: envision all the places we’d go in your city or mine; imagine looking at you the first time and feeling that internal click, satisfying and sure; picture the heat exuding from you, near me at last, the alarm rising like a metal detector about to find buried treasure. I can imagine lying in the bed with you and stroking your stomach softly, breathing deeply, feeling completely at peace in the moment.

Just then I’m shaken from the reverie. You aren’t real like this. It’s all my fantasy. It’s all me writing myself into the book, making it up as I go along, changing the ending to suit my whims.

MuteShould I continue to nurture this dream? Reality presses in on the sides, about to come crashing into my fiction. I can see the membrane stretched thin beneath its pressure. You built this world with me. You’re writing this story, too. What happens next? Do we fold over the page and close the book? We can promise we’ll come back to it someday, then put it on a shelf with all the other unfinished volumes. I’ll run a finger down its spine every now and then, and try to remember, How did that story go?

But I won’t open it again. I won’t read another word. Because every page I read would bring me one page closer to the end. And I’m not ready for this story to be over. I’d rather imagine everything it could be, than know how it really ends.