Heather Dorn

It was the seventh time Helen had listened to Eminem’s Lose Yourself, and she was starting to feel guilty for neglecting the other songs on her playlist. She sat on the end of her bed, typing her cover letter. Success is my only motherfucking option, failure’s not…

         “Dear search committee,

         Please hire me. Please, please, please; please.”

It lacked something. Another “please”? One can never be too accommodating. Or can one? Helen had never done a job letter, so she wasn’t sure how much to add or leave off.

Her phone binged. It was Andy. Helen was glad it wasn’t Andy’s dick. Andy had sent Helen a dick pic the night after they slept together. That was eight months ago. She hadn’t asked for it. He had been texting her and dick picking her since. She usually let the texts sit for eight to forty-eight hours before answering.

This wasn’t some strategy. Helen hated answering texts and emails, and so she put it off as long as possible, sometimes so long it was rude. She didn’t really understand the appeal of sexting either. Ohhhh you’re horny…great…I care because? I have to teach now. But it was a reality of modern dating, even at thirty-two so she was trying to engage in this discourse.

Helen found her lack of sexting skills problematic:

         Mmmm baby, I keep thinking about that night
                                                                                                   I mean mmmm
         I keep thinking about your breasts
                                                                                                                Me too
                                                                                                          I mean you
                                                   Your body, I mean, is what I’m thinking about

Helen had a few unread texts from Andy and one from Cindy. Cindy had a boyfriend and class so she never sent a vagina pic. Helen had once considered asking to swap pics but then had a vision of her pictures sprawled in front of a search committee, while they reviewed her C.V.. What would it say that she had allowed these scandalous pictures to circulate? What would it say that she dressed up as a naughty school girl and a tiger? Does this cross-genre composition create the desire to dump your boyfriend or hire an employee? Is this interdisciplinary? Every university wants interdisciplinary.

Helen decided that she was glad she hadn’t sent Cindy naked pictures, and she started to write about interdisciplinary goals.

Though their texts were more friendly, Helen and Cindy had made out a number of times. Helen wished Cindy’s boyfriend would move away but he seemed pretty happy at his job, in his house, coaching baseball. Helen felt it was all so pretentious of him. Plus he drove a shiny red car – some cool brand. Helen didn’t know the brands of cars but she knew if they were pretentious brands.

She’d spent many evenings with Cindy and the boyfriend hoping the boyfriend would fall asleep after UNO. He always blamed his UNO losses on Helen’s cheating.

“I don’t have to cheat to win.” Helen loved making him mad. Memorize your god damned deck, she thought. Helen was the kind of person who told everyone how the magic trick was done. Magicians didn’t like Helen.

Most of the time when they played UNO, Cindy tried to help him win and then she made out with Helen while he watched.

The phone binged again; it was Andy still.

         I want to be with you again so badly
                                                   my god
                                                   your eyes

If he had been with her, Helen would have pretzeled her body around Andy and made him stop texting for twenty-four hours. This was the only thing she felt qualified to do.

Her C.V. was eight pages. Her letter, now a page and a half. She was looking at how she could cut what she had written. Don’t want to look too full of myself, she thought. Was this Imposter Syndrome? She worried she’d look incompetent or fat.

Andy texted his dick from a flattering angle.

Helen admired the lighting of the image and how the focus was slightly off making the photo look older. It made Andy’s dick look young and hipster. She had started looking at the dick pictures from an artistic point of view.

Sexting was slightly easier than in-person interactions for Helen. She’d once went to visit her friend in Vermont and sat on a couch watching people she just met talk about people she didn’t know.

“Did you hear Aunt Annie broke a hip?” one woman asked, holding fruit with melted cheese on it.

“No, but I heard Sadie’s pregnant!” Everyone’s glad Sadie’s pregnant and upset about Aunt Annie.

Even Helen shook her head at poor Annie, though she wasn’t sure whose aunt she was or what made that cheese gooey.

Helen drank a beer like a shot, wringing her fingers when the discussion turned to muggings and near assault. Everyone had a friend-who story. Near misses and close escapes.

Helen didn’t tell her stories. Made herself into a ball. Wondered if this was what interviews would be like? Rocked back and forth until the words she never said were back in her belly, settled. She watched a woman across the room swallow her smile while no one else saw. She wondered if this made her special or cursed.

She let her mind turn to Jeff who covered her like a blanket almost every night they were together, even though they liked to break up mid-week just to make their brains shake. When she was with him, a t-shirt was her lingerie.

He didn’t do texting. He didn’t call much anymore. It wouldn’t matter. She can’t say what she wants through the phone. At least he’d written her a good recommendation.

Helen was ready to upload her application, the Submit button waiting, a drowsy metaphor.

Heather Dorn is the Director of the Binghamton Poetry Project, a literary non-profit that runs free poetry workshops, contests, readings, and anthology publication for local voices. She is graduating with her Ph.D. in English, Creative Writing Poetry from Binghamton University in Spring 2016. Her work can be found in the Paterson Literary Review, Ragazine, the Kentucky Review, and other similar journals.