Not Even This Jesus Look-Alike Can Heal My Heartache

"The Treatment" by Marcia Walker, recommended by Electric Literature

Introduction by Alexandria Juarez

A few years ago, I developed an addiction to weighted blankets. They were the perfect substitute for touch and calmed me similar to those tight-fitted vests for anxious dogs. A more preferable weighted blanket though is one with body heat: a friend, my Rottweiler, my partner. The metamorphosis from solitude to tranquilized, lulled, swaddled. 

Marcia Walker’s “The Treatment” hones into that desperation for transformative touch. Two years after her long-term partner’s death, Jeanette is still disengaged from her life. She’s stopped working as a producer. She’s lost all of her friends because she can’t commit to attending weddings, birthdays, or even a lunch. She uses an automated delivery service for groceries. Her only “friend” left, the real estate agent who sold her house, suggests that she see the unnamed energy specialist she’s dating. Because she is so alone she’s almost delirious, Jeanette books a series of appointments with this man who turns out to have “all the obvious Messianic signifiers.” Jeanette designates him as “personal trainer—J” in her phone, but dubs him “Jesus” privately. 

Meanwhile, Jeanette has been receiving sexually explicit texts from an unknown number, which she imagines are sent by her deceased partner. After a text about wanting to fill her up with a big hard cock, our glum narrator laughs; these “love letters” have given her “energy for the first time in months.” The juxtaposition of such horny sexts with devotion that transcends death is devastating. Walker lifts the curtain behind the typical signs of grief and uncovers a grittier level. The loss is not just a lack of love or future, it’s an orphaned intimacy, the death of your shared vulgarity.

It is difficult to name a man “Jesus” and expect the salvation he offers to live up to the hype, but Walker delivers. Her writing is witty and snappy, perfect for a narrator who is miserable but redeemable. At the height of the story, Jeanette and Jesus have a session where he lays perpendicularly on her when she is not expecting it. She hears herself make “a sound so honest it could only come from the insane, the untethered.” Reading this, I pictured Jeanette, who early in the story equates her sadness to drowning in the aphotic zone of the ocean, puncturing the surface of the water. The literal weight of this stranger becomes the buoyancy she needs to emerge.

Alexandria Juarez
Assistant editor, Recommended Reading

Not Even This Jesus Look-Alike Can Heal My Heartache

“The Treatment” by Marcia Walker

On the second anniversary of Margot’s death I met Jesus. He was holed up in one of those furnished condos on Bolton Avenue that attract newly divorced dads and low-level executives staying in the city for less than three months. The kind of building where each door has dampeners fixed to its hinges, making them impossible to slam. That alone prevented me from living in such a place. 

Jesus didn’t seem to mind. Not a whiff of irritation or impatience came off him. He appeared in the doorway, leaning against the metal frame, with a placid expression on his face that revealed nothing about his emotional state yet also looked open and unguarded. He paused, long enough for the stale smell of brown rice and drywall dust to itch the hairs of my nostrils, long enough I had the sense this was still open to negotiation. Even though I was paying him I worried he might turn me away. Then where would I go? I had already been through doctors, therapists, social workers, support groups, naturopaths, astrologers, more than a few liquor stores. Some of them had given temporary relief to the feeling, which for lack of a better word, I called sadness. It was more like I had been underwater for too long, deep in the aphotic zone, and had forgotten where the light came from and in which direction to swim for air. I had come to Jesus, as I’d already decided to call him, for healing. I drew myself into an unsustainably perfect posture, as though my height might convince him of my worthiness. After a slow labored blink, he invited me in. 

He must have told me his real name but I didn’t retain it. I was having difficulty concentrating at that time. Thoughts flew in and out of my mind at an alarming speed and rarely related to where I was, who I was with, or what I was doing. It was only after I took off my coat and followed him into the sunlit, IKEA clad living room that I focused on what he was saying. 

“People aren’t sure what to call me.” He dropped onto the couch and his bony hips cut into the orange cushions. “If it helps, you can call me an energy specialist.”

“I will call you Jesus.” I didn’t say that out loud. 

He had all the obvious Messianic signifiers: v-shaped beard; long, feathered hair; emaciated frame. But those are a dime a dozen on the street these days. It was the immediate effect he had on my nervous system that made me think of redemption. A heavy sleepiness came over me. I had an urge to lay my head on the bones of his chest. It was also possible I was looking for a savior. 

“Energy specialist,” I eventually murmured, letting him know my hearing worked and that we understood one another. 

“What I do, Jean,” and he interrupted himself, “or do you prefer Jeanette?” 


He continued. “What I do, Jeanette, doesn’t follow a pattern. It is highly intuitive. Often intense. Life changing. I focus on healing.” A rise of color dotted his cheeks. “It changes peoples’ lives.” He kept speaking while my eyes flitted to the window, across the road to the deserted parking lot. His voice reminded me of public radio. I tuned back in when he mentioned Margot. 

“I understand your spouse died several years ago.”

She wasn’t technically my spouse, but I didn’t correct him. We sat in condominium silence until my purse chirped twice. Then two more times. My body burned as I thought of the incoming texts. Then I thought of Margot. Then I thought of thoughts which I can’t pull or access. Lost thoughts. 

We scheduled three “healing sessions” over the following three weeks. I labeled them in my calendar as “personal trainer—J.” I opened my purse and took out the seven hundred- and fifty-dollars cash he had asked me to bring and placed the fifties in a stack on the glass table. The money reminded me of the pink sticky notes Margot used to pile on top of one another on the kitchen counter, each with its own task, a random to-do list of sorts that she rarely, if ever, completed. I expected him to glance down at the payment but his eyes remained on my face and I thought, Jesus, just take the money, you’re not fooling anybody. Charlatan. Quack. Fake. I didn’t have the heart to look him in the eye as I thought these things. 

He told me that was it for the day. The first meeting was just to explain the procedure and to make sure we were a good fit, “energetically speaking.” He followed me to the hallway and helped me with my coat, a gesture I’ve noticed happens to me more and more as I get older. Now that I’ve stopped dying my hair I’m everyone’s grandmother. 

“One more thing,” he said, as my hand turned the cold stainless-steel handle. “Are you okay with me touching you during the treatment?”

Trying to think of something funny to say, I blew the air out of my cheeks. Margot used to warm her hands under my bum in bed at night. She waited until she thought I was asleep and slid her icy fingers between the sheet and the slack of my skin.  

“Touching’s okay,” I said.  

“Is anywhere off limits?”

“It’s fine. It’s all fine.” I needed to leave immediately. Had it really come to this? Paying a Jesus-look-alike $750 to touch me? I peeled out of his condo, leaving him standing by the closet, and hurried into the stairwell before his controlled door had a chance to seal shut. 

Olga, the real estate agent I’d used to sell our place, had recommended him. I wasn’t getting an unbiased opinion; they were lovers. They had met at a wellness retreat near his cabin on Saltspring Island, where he lived year-round. Taking on clients in Toronto was a way to help pay for his visit to see her. I knew the intimate details about their sex life and the handful of cross-country rendezvous she’d funded over the past four months. She told me they liked to trim each other’s pubic hair. She told me he once got off while he watched her eat roast chicken with her fingers. Other things I knew: he rarely slept more than five hours at a time, was allergic to walnuts, and had dropped out of university to join a folk band that toured the West Coast. But I did not know his name. To Olga he was Croz. It was an album they both loved and became her pet name for him. “Call Croz,” she had said the third time I’d started crying for no reason. “He’ll fix you up.” 

I tried listening to the album and didn’t get past the second song. I preferred to call him Jesus. I thought about Olga and Jesus, their unlikely couplehood, as I began the two-hour walk home to the west end of the city. In my pocket my hand gripped the slick casing of my phone but I did not check the texts. I wanted to wait until the privacy of my home. A cold November wind ripped through my thin wool coat. The fall had been unusually warm and when the frost came, a few days earlier, hard and sudden, the leaves froze on the trees and blew off in clusters, clapping against one another as they fell. The branches around me, stripped of their leaves, reminded me of naked arms with innumerable fingers.

Within half an hour, Olga called me for an update.

“What did I tell you? He’s amazing, right?” Her voice roared in my ear buds and I adjusted the volume. “This is going to change everything for you, Jeanette.” Then she had to go. That was Olga. She never stayed in one place, or one conversation, for long. 

Most, if not all of my friends, our friends, Margot’s and mine, had dropped off over the past year. My fault entirely. There’s only so many times you can act like an asshole without actually becoming an asshole. They’d understood and tolerated my distant behavior after the funeral, but after a year, I knew my sadness had become excessive. No doubt I was supposed to do something and hadn’t. Showing up to a wedding or a sixtieth birthday, even keeping lunch dates was too much effort. Gradually they stopped calling and texting. The only friend I had left was my real estate agent. 

So, you see, I was not completely alone. 

I kept walking. Several pumpkins remained on porches, more gruesome now as squirrels mangled and chewed the remnants of their carved faces. Black rot was beginning to settle into the edges of their orange skin. It was difficult not to check my phone, to read the texts. I increased my pace. 

Walking, I had discovered, was an excellent way to kill time. I used to hate that phrase, but that’s how I’d come to feel about time since I’d been on my own, and that’s how I treated it: not exactly as an enemy, but something unwanted and needling, something I had to exterminate. I knew at each point in the day or night, almost down to the second, without looking at my watch, exactly what time it was. At night I felt the carnage of hours and minutes piling up. 

When I arrived home, three bags of groceries were waiting outside my door. I had forgotten I’d ordered them. They were an automatic refill that I had set up when I first moved in a few months ago and had not gotten around to canceling. Dozens of eggs piled up in my fridge. Rotting plums lay at the bottom of the crisper. Occasionally a delivery boy carried the paper bags into my kitchen but he had come and gone. I lugged each bag onto my counter and methodically put everything away. Often an additional item appeared in the bags that was not in my order. Stems of organic bananas. A package of granola. Once a bag of giant chocolate covered raisins. They never charged me for these. This time it was figs from Egypt. I had never been to Egypt. Margot had, once, before we met.  

I bit into the tough, purple skin. The seeds scraped along my tongue. I remembered reading that female wasps crawl inside figs to pollinate their eggs. Once the wasp has burrowed she dies, whether she lays her eggs or not. Figs have an enzyme that digests the wasp’s body completely. It was possible that I had fossilized remnants of a wasp in my mouth. That was the kind of thing I used to store up to tell Margot. 

I plated quarters of fig with two thick slices of cheese and sat in the chair next to the window to read the texts. They arrived daily, for the past month, always around noon, from the same unknown number. 

I want you to beg me to fuck you more 

Ill cum inside your pretty little mouth and your going to swallow every drop

I scrolled through the ones from previous days. 

Take it deep

I want to cum all over your face

Hows your gag reflex?

I closed my eyes and thought of Margot. 

Grieving has not taken the form I thought it would. 

The following Wednesday I was back in Jesus’ condo. He asked me if I wanted a glass of water and I declined. For a few minutes he spoke of Olga and how much he enjoyed being in Toronto. I was impatient to start the treatment and didn’t say anything more. My phone chirped and he suggested I turn it off. I muted it. I feared missing the texts if I powered it down entirely. Then Jesus told me to lie down on my back with my knees bent and open. I paused, muted phone in my hand, pretending I hadn’t understood him. 

In a gentle voice, he said, “We can stop at any time. If you are uncomfortable.” 

I surveyed the yellow rug, placed my phone on the table, and tentatively lowered down to my knees. After rubbing my thighs several times, I wobbled onto my bum and from there had a clear view of three dust balls under the TV stand. I scootched away from them and gradually laid back. 

“Let your knees open to the sides,” Jesus said. 

I sucked in my upper lip. I could still leave. Instead I splayed my knees as though I was giving birth. 

“I want you to know you’re safe.” He watched me from the nearby couch. “Close your eyes.” 

I kept my eyes strained on the dimmed pot lights. 

“It’s okay if you don’t want to close them, but as we go along they may get heavy. Feel free to close them at any time.” 

I blinked in response. 

“Take a deep breath,” he said. 

I thought about what kind of training Jesus had for this kind of work and what Olga saw in him and the texts and Margot and what I was doing here and how much I wanted to tell her about Jesus. I forgot to breathe deeply until he said it again and I was back in the condo, trying to breathe deeply. 

“Slowly,” Jesus said. “Draw your knees together.” 

I drew my knees together.

“No, not so fast. Much, much slower.” 

I flopped them open again. Something poked from the rug into my shoulder blade. When my knees were half-way lifted Jesus told me to hold them there. 

“What do you feel?” he asked. 

“Nothing,” I said, but my voice was tight in my throat.

“Whatever it is, you can feel it.”

He shifted from the couch to my side, kneeling, and the faint scent of cannabis oil wafted from his body. That brought Margot sharp into my mind, the CBD mouth spray she carried, supposedly to help with the vomiting. My knees sagged. 

“Draw your knees together,” he said.

Too tired to hold them any longer and not seeing the point, I let them drop.

“Slowly draw your knees together,” he repeated in a little over a whisper. 

I knew, on some level, I was failing the exercise. When I no longer responded to his voice, he stopped instructing me and got up to make some tea. I lay on the floor, discouraged. 

He offered me a mug of swampy-looking tea and left it on the table between us. I wanted to leave the room but I felt unusually weak, and after managing to roll up off the floor, I sunk into the armchair. Jesus appeared younger in front of me now as he blew the steam off his own mug. 

“How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” I said, by which I meant I felt nothing. 

“You may not notice anything. Or it may be subtle. And that’s okay too.”  

After that we spoke for a little while. I told him how I had worked in TV but had been unable to continue my work as a producer after Margot died. I couldn’t to do much. I was living off the sale of my house. I felt the need to explain how I lived. He began to speak of small inconsequential topics, the city, the price of coffee, and then shifted to his relationship with Olga. He had never felt anything like this before. He told me he wanted to move to Toronto to be closer to her. 

“That’s a big decision,” I said.

“I am dedicating myself to love.” 

Yes, he spoke like this, I wanted to tell Margot. She would think I was exaggerating, but I wasn’t. And his face, such optimism; he really believed his own words. 

“What does that mean?” I finally asked. 

“Only those things which you can’t define are worth dedicating your life to.”

I sipped my tea in tiny increments and thought: how dare you say such things to me. 

That night, when I could not sleep, I imagined Margot cheating on me. Unwanted, fabricated, uncontrollable scenarios. All the reassuring memories of her had faded and I was left lonely and insecure. Her lovers were all men. I saw her fucking them. In each vision she looked terribly alive. She was Margot in a fullness she never had been with me. I imagined these men attending her funeral and approaching me one by one. When I asked how they knew Margot, they all gave the same response, “We’re old friends,” and each time they said this I worried about the parts of Margot that I never knew, would never get to know.  

To make it worse, I pictured finding the evidence of these lovers on her phone. Not photos, but emails and texts. A staggering number of each. Her words were eloquent and expressive, nothing like what she’d ever written to me. I could not stop my mind from the cruel place it rushed to in the solitary darkness. I heard her mocking me to her lovers. Then, to make my thoughts worse, I had her never speak of me at all. She never mentioned she had a girlfriend, except to say meeting at her place was not an option. Her phrase was: I am unable to host. I said that out loud in the night. I wanted to hear her whisper it to me. I wanted to hear anything at all. On my own, I was ruining us. Eventually I got out of bed and got my phone.

“How are the sessions going?” Olga linked her arm through mine as we made our way to the booth at the trendy upscale bar Olga frequented. The clientele was much younger than me, or if they were my age they took great pains to look younger. Trays passed by with foamy pastel cocktails. Olga knew the wait staff by name. People liked to be close to her. When she zoned in on you it was like the past and future didn’t exist; there was only now, and now, and now. I swore people bought houses from her just to feel that quality of focus.  

“I’m not doing it right,” I said. “My first session didn’t go very well.”

“It’s only been one. Keep going. What do you have to lose?”

I wasn’t sure what it was, but I knew I had something to lose. I held the stem of my martini glass. I thought of telling her about the texts I’d received over the past month. That someone was cyber-stalking me. That I thought it was Margot. But I held back. I knew what she’d say: it’s not Margot. Or: just block the number. Why don’t you block the number? Why, Jeanette? 

“How’s it going with the two of you?” I asked her instead. 

“Good. Yeah.” Her eyes darted to the door. He was expected to join us any minute. “Now that he’s in town…” Her voice trailed off. 

Olga’s heel tapped under the table. “My freedom is important to me. We’ll see.”

I thought about Jesus, his open expression, and knew his days were numbered with Olga. He had no idea. My phone chirped. My hand reflexively moved to my coat pocket, but I didn’t take out the phone. 

“Do you want to check that?” Olga asked. 

“It’s nothing.” Clearly my face said otherwise, but Olga didn’t force it. “He told me he is dedicating his life to love.”


“That’s what he said. Are you? Dedicating yourself to love?”

The skin around Olga’s eyes tensed. “I’m dedicating my life to pleasure.” 

At that point Jesus showed up and sat next to her in the booth. He reached for her hand on the table. She smiled noncommittally. He said he had been looking at apartments in the city that afternoon and thought he might have found something. He squeezed Olga’s hand. How foolish he seemed in that moment. He was so deliriously happy. I had to look away. I went to the bathroom and while in the stall I checked my phone. 

I want to fuck you hard

I texted back. 

I miss you  

The next day, after more groceries arrived that I still had not canceled, I checked for the latest text. 

Spread your legs wide and wait for my big hard cock to fill you up 

Oh, that’s a good one. I laughed as I patted my hands to my face. Margot, that was a good one. 

I began to type back. These coded messages. These love letters from beyond. I had energy for the first time in months. It was like she was saying, Jeany, it’s okay, all those parts we both hid from each other, that we never wanted each other to see, we can love them now. Every flash or buzz or chirp made me feel near to her again. Physically, her body came back to me, a stray eyelash under my tongue.

Sometimes, in my bathroom late at night, after giving up trying to sleep, I reread the texts. I imagined her saying them to me and the two of us laughing and then touching each other like something new and vulnerable to this world. I pressed my fingers against the words as though they were her mouth. First her upper lip, then her lower. Then in between, the place where her mouth opened. My finger between her teeth as she pressed down, just hard enough to leave an imprint. Minutes passed in the darkness before I realized it was my own finger in my mouth. It had not been hers for a long time. 

I typed back: I want to see you

At my next session Jesus no longer felt like Jesus. He had turned into a regular person, someone who was about to have his heart broken, and this made me like him more. It also made me afraid for him. And angry with Olga. I’d been wrapped up, against my will, in their love affair. Why did she not return his affections in the same way? Why did she not take better care of him? I wanted to tell him to leave her, to find someone who treated him better. He deserved to be loved.

Before we began we sat down opposite one another in the living room. I asked him about his apartment hunt and he told me he was going to sign the lease that afternoon. His cheeriness as he wagged his bare feet side to side astonished and chastised me.  Before I had the chance to ask him more about Olga he grew calm and serious and asked me if I was ready to begin. I told him I was. I lay on the floor again and repeated the same exercises from the previous week. Almost immediately my legs began to shake. Embarrassed, I tried to stop them; however, the harder I tried to control them the more they shook. 

“Let your body go,” he said. “It’s okay. I’m here. Whatever happens.”

I did not want him here. I wanted him to leave the room, to stop staring at me. My eyes closed. The shaking in my legs traveled to my hips, spreading to my stomach and shoulders. My jaw vibrated. 

“Your body may do things that you’re not used to. Let it happen. I will make sure you are okay.”

Stop talking, I wanted to say, but I could not form words. I pictured Margot laughing at me. I did not want her to see me like this. Stop talking, I tried to say but it came out as a moan. Stay away from me. Thoughts of hurting Jesus flooded my mind. I imagined kicking and thrashing him, tugging at his beard, his long hair, scaling my fingers down his face, scarring him. This terrified me and yet, like the shaking I could not stop my violent thoughts. They became more brutal. Not merely to hurt but to really harm him. I wanted to puncture his lungs. Then I saw Margot again. Her hair gone. Her tired, used-up body. I kicked her. My body kept thumping on the ground, a thing possessed. Then her face changed and it was my mother, though I had not seen her in over thirty years. My hands squeezed around her neck. As I did this, her expression, one of calm disdain, did not change. Until she was almost out of breath and it was my face I was looking at. My own face turning red, then deep purple, as if taunting me. “Go on, do it. I can take it.”

“Jeanette.” The voice was next to me but felt distant, as though from across a field. “Tell me what you see.” 

I shook him away. His voice. His interruption. I sputtered to breathe. 

“I am going to touch you. This may hurt. I will make sure you are okay.”

Despite his words of warning, his weight startled me. He laid his chest over me, not lover-like, but across, perpendicular. His heart pushed against my breast bone. Despite his leanness, his chest was heavy and the unexpected weight made it even more difficult for me to breathe. It felt like an unbearable burden. Yellow and orange stars burst under my eyelids. I could not get enough air. I coughed, choking on whatever air I could grasp. Once. And again. Dry heaves, lengthening. He pressed down harder. I thought he would crack the bones protecting my organs. Someone was yelling, moaning. A sound so honest it could only come from the insane, the untethered. I had stopped shaking. The sounds kept coming. He remained on my chest, his heart directly over mine, beating. My mouth remained open. Cold tears leaked from my eyes and clogged my ear canals. Then I drifted off into something not unlike sleep. 

When I woke, Jesus was sitting back on the couch, watching me attentively. He gestured to a glass of water. I drank the tall glass in one long gulp. He refilled it. As I gulped the second one, the water spilled over my chin. Jesus sat, in complete stillness. He looked exhausted. My body felt lighter, while he rose from the couch like an old man, pressing his hands into his thighs for leverage. He told me to stay for as long as I wanted. He’d make tea.

“I don’t know what happened,” I finally said.

“Don’t be in a hurry to understand it.” We waited together in silence, slowly drinking our tea, as dim November sunlight faded into night. When he flicked on the side table light, I managed to stand and put on my coat. 

The following day I went to Starbucks at the appointed time to meet the texter. I cruised the room shamelessly. No one had long curly hair. Not even close. I’d known Margot would not be there, but I’d also hoped. For what? For her to rise from the dead? To haunt me? It wasn’t clear: I hoped without a goal. I ordered a cappuccino from the barista and waited at the bar for my drink. The barista took off his apron and asked his co-worker if he could take a break which I knew meant my drink would take twice as long. I shifted for him to pass by, but he stopped in front of me and handed me my cappuccino. A delicate rose and two leaves bloomed in the foam. His mouth twisted to the side, accentuating the pock-marks on his right cheek. Then he said, “Hi, it’s me.”

He could not have been more than twenty-two years old. So thin. Like Jesus. All these half-starved young men. He did not resemble Margot in the least. Of course. Of course. Of course. Of course, he didn’t. Of course. 

I sat down and began to cry. 

The boy apologized and left the table. He returned with several napkins. He returned with a fudge oat bar. He returned with a glass of water. He apologized again. 

“You need to stop texting me such things.”

“Okay,” he agreed, without any hesitation. “It was just meant to be fun.” 

“I am a person.” I rubbed the wetness of my face into my hands. “I am a person,” I said again, with emphasis. I realized I had never said this before. It seemed important for me to hear. Like something Jesus would say. 

“Were you making fun of me?”

“No! It wasn’t meant like that.”

“I’m fifty-seven years old.”

“I like older women.”

“I’m gay.” I leveled my watery gaze at him. It was difficult for me to see him as a man, not as a boy, not as a child who might have been born from my body had I made different choices. “Are you looking for a mother-figure? Is that it?”

He flushed and I realized I had hit on something. 

“How did you get my number?” I asked, finally. 

“I deliver your groceries.”

I sat back. The delivery boy. I had never looked at his face. 

“Did you get the figs?” he asked. 

“You must stop. You must stop now with the texts.”

A long line had formed and his coworkers were getting impatient. “Tim, we need some help back here,” one called. 

Tim stood up and put his green apron back on. “I thought you were into it.”

That week I canceled my recurring grocery order and emptied out my fridge. I deleted all the texts. Even the real texts from Margot. The old ones which I’d kept for years. Often they were logistical. 

Be home soon

Do we need milk?

Where are you parked? 

I can’t see you

Are you still here?

I had held onto these like they were poetry, like they were her body. What did that say about me?

Jesus rescheduled the third session. He was leaving town earlier than he had planned. He didn’t say it, but Olga had ended things. When I arrived, a battered duffel bag slouched beside the door. “I leave on a flight this afternoon,” he admitted. He appeared smaller, shrunken, since I’d seen him last and he told me he didn’t think he would have the energy to do the final session today after all. He said he was sorry for wasting my time and tried to refund me the money. I refused to take any of it back. It made me feel abundant to let him have it, like I was investing in something. I wondered if he was still dedicating his life to love. He offered me tea as he usually did and we sat in the room together without speaking. Hip hop music from the condo next door filtered through the wall. I told him I had made plans to begin a new project, a new documentary I was helping to produce. I had called my old production partner to work together again and she agreed. “It’s a small project,” I said, to clarify. 

“That’s good news, Jeanette.” The beads on his wooden bracelet shifted and settled. I wanted to say something to soothe him. I wanted to say it’s okay to love someone that doesn’t love you back. I wanted to lay my heart on his. Instead, I smiled in embarrassment down at my mug, apologized, and asked him to tell me his name.

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