Rejection Letters

Zelda

I am in Michigan when Zelda the Mysterious predicts:You are a very sensitive person and a very critical one. You have a sharp tongue which may cause unhappiness to others.

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You’re always mean to me, he says while we walk down a path in a sprawling park in New Jersey. I can’t tell if you hate me or if that’s how you show affection.

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“I love fire,” he says, adding firewood to the pit.

Someone yells: “You should be a firefighter!”

“People have suggested that to me,” he says, “but I don’t want to put the fire out. I want to make it as big as it can get.”

*

Some days I wake up and still think I’m in New York, he tells me on the phone from Philly. Some days I wake up and wish I remembered what his sleeping body felt like next to mine.

*

This was my first time meeting him, but by then I’d already learned that one of the quickest ways to bond with someone is over heartbreak. When you sleep next to someone for years, you get used to that shape, that feeling, he said. I have a king-size mattress, and it’s just too big for me by myself.

I get it, I said, looking down, going through stacks of CDs. You’re just more aware of the empty space.

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There’s this lyric that reminds me of you, he said. “There’s no need to be an asshole / You’re not in Brooklyn anymore.”

                                                                        *

When we first started seeing each other, he and I would hear clapping, cheering, pots clanging from outside. He’d always leave his window open. I’d lean on the sill and start laughing and wondering aloud what the point of it was, it was directionless noise, unproductive clamor; then he’d give me a look like a warning, reminding me that the window is open, people can hear me. “It has good intentions,” he reasoned.

                                                                        *

I think I’ve made a mistake is what my 39-year-old friend texted me after he moved from Brooklyn to Portland to try to make his ex-girlfriend love him again. She’s just being a cunt, he tells me, though when we first start chatting about our breakups, all he could say was how he could never want anyone else.

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When I said that certain songs reminded me of him, he sighed and said: I don’t want to be a part of your associations, he didn’t look at me while he spoke, and he was laughing as if the situation was absurd. That’s terrifying.

A month after we cease communication, I put “Lust For Life” on repeat because he exists within the reckless riffs, the messy vocals, the silly lyrics—I feel him there: I wish I had a boyfriend / I wish I had a loving man in my life / I wish I had a father / Maybe then I would’ve turned out right / But now I’m just crazy, I’m totally mad / Yeah I’m just crazy, I’m fucked in the head.

*

I get an email from his friend a week or so after we stopped talking, and he’s CC’d like a cruel joke. My name is Samantha, it reads, as if I haven’t already looked her up in the past, stalked her all the way to the first post.She lies: I’ve read some of your articles in the past and I would love to hear your thoughts. If I were drunk, I’d reply and tell her to die. I’m sober and have no excuses.

The album is tagged: #shoegaze #electrorock #electropop #krautrock #krautpop #indie #lofi #hifi #doomerrock

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The Fortune Teller in Michigan condescends: You were nature’s stepchild. Always managing to get into trouble. You have a sensitive disposition and are easily hurt. Try to develop tough skin.

*

You’re not who I thought you were, he texted me.

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On a date at Hart Bar, fog lingers over street lamps and cars blast music while fading into the streets. I text Haley when he goes back in to get me a drink, saying that I’m having trouble flirting with him. It’s hard to crack his shell, I explain. Bring attention to ur mouth, she answers.

                                                                        *

You date so prolifically, my friend texts me. I don’t know how you do it.

                                                                        *

He tells me about the Taylor Swift fan he dated who’d listened to her new song over 100 times within the first week of the release. I’d broken up with her, and she blew up my phone and showed up at my door days in a row, he said, classifying her as his stalker. I got a restraining order.

                                                                        *

If he asks me why I did not respond to her email, I will say that I get 100 emails a day, which is true. I still searched her name to find hers, though. I’d say I’m busy, scheduling three interviews already, which is true. I still have time to dawdle around and cry over him, though, looking at his online profiles through accounts on which he doesn’t have me blocked, staring at the digital photos, dumbfounded and lost, wondering where my place in his life went.

                                                                        *

I Googled him and found an old interview posted on Tumblr. Is there anything you don’t like about living in New York? the interviewer asked.

I’ve spent nearly all of my life in Brooklyn, he replied, 20 years old, how old I just turned, 11 years younger than he is now. I won’t lie and say I’m not happy to have been born here, but I find myself dying to leave. Everyone and everything is in such close proximity. I’ve never had to drive to buy groceries or plan out a weekend to visit a museum. I’ve never spent a day outside without hearing at least three different languages. Being raised here, you brush by tourists looking up at skyscrapers, standing in your way, wasting everyone’s time. Then you find yourself outside of the city, and you can’t stop looking up at all the stars in the sky.

                                                                        *

He laughs when I come back down with a bottle opener, one I didn’t realize was for beer. Have you never drank wine before? he asks. I say: I do, I just always have someone open it for me. We take turns stabbing the cork until it gives and the sour liquid sprays the both of us, staining on our shirts, leaving reminders of this fleeting night. We’d just met, and we’d never see each other again. The red spot on his white T-shirt is my way of clinging onto him, my small role in his life.

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Danielle Chelosky is a New York-based writer who has words about music and culture in MTV News and The Fader, as well as words about sex and relationships in Hobart Pulp and Flypaper Lit. She currently studies at Sarah Lawrence College.

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image: Luca Farrell

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