A mysterious letter begins a tale of 'untragedy'.
Why would she send me an e-mail?
The hall was clean and quiet. Every door was identical, the same dark grain of wood and the same shiny golden doorknob. However, each had a hint of individuality; a number, a name and a board.
Neither of us have spoken to her since graduating, three years ago.
The numbers ranged from '201' to '245'. This was the second floor. It housed forty-five rooms, with four bathrooms. And the hall, in its entirety, was in the shape of a 'T'. As was the whole dormitory building, on the edge of the university's campus.
"So, are you going to open it?" A man's voice.
Room 221. The same mock-wood door. The same fake print of wood grain. A name, 'Sandra Strange', in big block letters on a green piece of construction paper. And the board - nearly clear and white with an eraser and marker stuck on the side with Velcro.
"I don't know why not." A woman's voice.
Inside Room 221, she was sitting at a computer desk across from a bed. He was sitting on the foot of the bed, reading over her shoulder. Both reading.
That is what we used to call you, right? A fine nickname, if I do say so, Sandra. I know, it's been a while. More than a while. But I'm reaching back, into my old life. Because I need help. You were always the counselor of our little clique, Sandra. And I know, I should have explained. Why I stopped showing up online. Why I stopped answering the phone. Why I never called.
That's a long and complicated story. I don't know where to begin, so I won't - for now. Please, forgive me. And I hope our friendship of old does not mean nothing to you now. I need your help.
"Jamie, are you sure you should keep reading?" Sandra had a tone of concern in her voice, as she turned back to look at her boyfriend. "It gets a little awkward."
"Heh, you and your inhuman reading speed," he smirked. "I'm okay. She was my friend too."
...I didn't go to school. When my mother died, my step-father threw me out. It was a mistake to trust him with her affairs. With our affairs. I have to pay my own way. Then I legally adopted Matt and Katrina, now that I was old enough.
You see, he was abusing them. Matt took the beatings for her, and it was taking a toll on him. I had to. But he got it all, Sandra. All the inheritance. And supporting them was a hassle. I found a way, but the situation isn't pretty. And now I want out - and that ain't easy in my line of work. My job and my love life are pretty screwed up. I won't spare you the nitty-gritty. Because I know we never did, back in the day.
Jamie drew his hand to his gaping mouth, and tears of sympathy for a long-lost friend welled in his eyes. He could see that Sandra was crying too. But there was still more to read.
...I expect you to keep it confidential. I am not proud of what I do. What I've had to do. To make due.
The beach was bare, as was I. Laying in the sand, flesh and sand just one wet, beige tone. He was thrusting into me with his hips with an agonizingly slow speed. And as the waves came against the shore, he matched their pace. He pulled out with that same, slow rate. I felt like I was going to froth over into the sand, like the waves. And with his arms, he caressed me. Just as slowly and just as tenderly. No man has ever treated me with such kindness. They always want it hard and fast, without a care for us. Without caring whether we arrive, as well.
He's different. He's special. I love him. I don't think I love him. I know I love him. And it feels truly wonderful, lying on the beach with his body pressing slowly against mine. In sync with the world. Feeling like part of nature - as woman and man are meant to. And as I sigh my final moan, and he finally, without oppressively rapturous speed, lets out his final groan, I know. I know I love him. Time seems to pass at a pause, for that brief last moment when his lips meet mine. He whispers nice things in my ear, as always. Then we meet. No tongue, just a gentle kiss.
Then the director yells, "Cut!" and it's over, Sandra. It's all over. I go back to being me and he goes back to being him. And our love goes back to being nothing. I need help. The business won't let me out easily.
Jamie turned to Sandra with a worried, caring look on his face. He could not hope to imagine the heartbreak and desperation their friend was going through. But he knew the kind of person, and the kind of friend, that Sandra was.
She wet a tissue with the tears upon her face.
He knew they had to help Lucy. Regardless of the past between them. Regardless of the judgment of others. Regardless of the ring in his pocket.