ARLEN

It's time, I realize—long past time, really—to introduce Arlen, another major player in my life.Mom’s friend Arlen was pretty, with a lilting voice and very precise diction (her parents were immigrants and she didn’t learn to speak English until she was six); she was...

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RETREAT

One afternoon shortly after I got back from Tucson, Jack and I went walking on the USC campus, and rather than listening to what I was saying, his head kept swiveling, his eyes following every passing co-ed. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with an...

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RELIEF

The day after my abortion, I boarded a bus to Tucson, where my dad had moved a few years before. I’d tried to reach him at the university to let him know I was coming—he lived out in the desert and didn’t have a phone—but a secretary had told me he only came in to the...

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MISTAKE

Jack didn’t bother to use a condom properly, which I was too inexperienced to realize. Not only would he wait until he’d completely lost his erection to remove it, he’d wash it out and use it again, which made what happened next practically a foregone conclusion. When...

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LOVERS

“Jack—kooky, comical face, all chin and jaw and nose, hair like an unpruned bush—said last night that he was crazy about me and could hardly sit apart from me in the same room for frustration, that I was incredibly beautiful, and that it appeared to be hopeless,...

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SHAME

“I’m having a hard time with my memoir,” I tell Annee. “And it’s not just grief that’s hanging me up; it’s shame too. Every time I start a new vignette, I think, no, I’d better leave this out. But then I feel the same way about the next experience I try to write...

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