"Tom is talented."


"Tom is tender."

I love Peter.

"Tom is beautiful."

"You're such a liar."

"Tom is a mystery."

No, I'm in love with Peter.

I thought I was in love with Dickie. When he looked at me, I felt like the center of the universe, but when he looked away I was lost in the blur of the scenery.

When Peter looks at me, there is nothing else. There is no scenery to get lost in. We're the only two people who do - who will ever - exist.

And now he has to die. I have to kill him.

I'm in love with Peter.

How can I say that? What have I become? I made a mess of being Dickie Greenleaf and now I've made a mess of being Tom Ripley.

I can't even be myself anymore. I don't know who I am anymore.

Tom wouldn't kill Peter. But Tom wouldn't kill Dickie either. Tom did kill Dickie. I killed Dickie. I am Dickie. I killed myself.

"Tom is a mystery."

When he speaks, I can feel his words passing through his body into mine. I can feel the vibration, I can feel the muscles in his back shifting, I can feel how much he loves me. I can feel how much I love him.

"Tom is not a nobody."

I can't love him. For God's sake, I'm about to kill him. You don't kill the one you love, that's just not how it's done.

"Tom has secrets he doesn't want to tell me, and I wish he would."

He'd accept it. He'd see how much I love him, and he'll play along. He'll stay down here the rest of the trip and everything will be okay. Meredith will never know. He'll be okay. Then we can move to somewhere that no one knows Dickie Greenleaf or Tom Ripley and we'll get a place and I'll go to Peter's concerts and he can pick his way through my dark, demon-filled rooms because he'll always have the key and the darkness will never touch his light. We'll live happily ever after.

"Tom has nightmares."

If I do this, I'll never sleep again. Not that I sleep that well now. I'd see Peter every night. Not that it would be a bad thing. I think I'd enjoy seeing Peter every night. I think I'd enjoy seeing him every moment of my life. But not like that. He'd hate me.

"That's not a good thing."

I couldn't bear it if Peter were to hate me.

"Tom has someone to love him."

I love you, too, Peter. I love you so much.

"That is a good thing."

The tie is in my hands, all I have to do is...

"Tom is crushing me."



Smile. He'll know something's wrong. "Could you say that last part again?"

"Tom is crushing me."

He's playing with me. No one's ever played with me before. Not like this.

"The part before that."

"Tom has someone to love him."

"Say it again." I love to hear it.

"Tom has someone to love him." He loves to say it.

He sits up and pulls me into his arms. He doesn't have to do much pulling.

"Tom has someone to love him. Tom has someone who will never leave him. Tom has someone who will always come home to him, and will wait with baited breath until he returns. Tom has someone who will always call wherever he is home."

I'm crying now. I can't remember when I started; I can't remember a time when the tears didn't fall freely. It feels like I've never been happy before.

"Tom has someone who doesn't care about his past."

He has no idea. I hope he has no idea. I don't want innocent, gentle Peter to ever know what I really am.

"Tom has someone who will stay in his cabin for the rest of the trip if only Tom will ask again."

He pulls me closer. I didn't think I could get any closer to Peter. I don't think I could ever get close enough. His arms tighten around me, promising me he'll never let go. I feel his lips against my hair - he's never kissed me before. My heart feels like it's going to explode and I cry even harder; even I don't know if the tears are from sorrow or joy.

"And these are all," his voice cracks, he's crying too," very good things."

I pull myself closer, burying my face against his chest, "Very good things."

I don't know how long it takes, but Peter holds me until I calm down. I know it can't last forever, but I want to lay there in his arms for as long as I can.

"Tom, what's wrong? Will you at least tell me that much?"

I can't deny Peter anything. I've never wanted to try.

"I love you so much, Peter." There, I've said it. At least now he knows.

He smiles. I love the way he smiles. This is the sad one, the one that doesn't quite reach his eyes but you know he's just a little happy, the one that makes me want to tell him that everything's going to be just fine. But I can't lie to Peter. I've never really. Not the way I've lied to everyone else. I want to tell Peter everything about me. No limited answers to limited questions, just everything.

"And that's a problem?" He's not allowing himself to be distracted, I love that about him. I love everything about him.

"No. I mean, yes. I mean, it's a wonderful thing. But now I don't know to do."

He's quiet. He wants to help; I can see the pain of impotence in his eyes. He can't help me until I tell him what's really wrong and we both know that.

"Let me return the favor."

He smiles, really smiles. For a moment, I can't breathe past my heart, which has newly transplanted itself into my throat.


"Peter is gentle."

We lie down, in the same position as earlier: he's flat on the bed, head resting on crossed arms and my head on his back, my breathing matching itself to his.

"Peter is kind."

The tie is still wrapped around one of my hands.

"Peter is wonderful."

I love him.

"Peter is beautiful."

He smiles, but says nothing.

"Peter is understanding."

I don't want to hurt him.

"Peter is trusting."

He has to die.

"Peter has someone to love."

I love him.

"Peter has someone to love him."

I'm in love with him.

"Peter his mine."

I unwrap it.

"Which is a good thing."

His voice is soft.

"A very good thing."

The tie falls to the floor.

"Yes, a very good thing."

A very good thing.

"Peter holds my key."

He's been moving slowly for a bit and now he's sitting up, holding me against his shoulder.

"And that's a scary thing."

"Scary for which of us?"

I can feel myself smiling at the irony I think I see in life.


Irony is always cruel and unforgiving.

"I'm not afraid."

Not at all like Peter.

"I am."

He can sense my hesitance.

"Listen, maybe we should save this until tomorrow."


If I stop now, I'll never tell him.

"I need to tell you something."

I need to tell him.

"Go ahead."

"I can't."

"Tom, you can tell me anything. You should know that by now."

"I know. I do. I just...I just don't want you to hate me."

I couldn't stand it if Peter were to hate me.

"I couldn't stand it if you were to hate me."

"I could never hate you."

I believe him. He may fear me. He may leave me. But he'll never hate me.

I sure hope I'm right.

"The basement I told you about? It's worse than you could ever imagine."

"Don't be so overdramatic, Tom."

"I'm not being overdramatic. I wish I were."

"What's wrong, Tom? Tell me."

If I don't tell him now, I never will.

"I killed Dickie Greenleaf, became him, then, when Freddy found out, I killed him, too. I came in here tonight to kill you, but I couldn't do it. I don't want to do it."

I think his first reaction is to laugh, but he doesn't. He knows that I'm serious. His eyes, he looks so disappointed in me. Disappointed? Of all the possible reactions, he looks disappointed in me. I wish he'd look afraid of me, or laugh at me, or - God help me - hate me. Anything but this.


"No. Let me say this." I don't know what else to say. I just don't want to know what he has to say. "I didn't mean to kill Dickie. He attacked me - I was defending myself. Then, I didn't know what to do and the guy at the hotel mistook me for Dickie and I didn't know what else to say. Then Freddy found out. I panicked and killed him. Crushed his skull with a Roman bust. Everything was going to be fine now. But Meredith spotted me, her whole family. They think I'm Dickie. And they thought I - Dickie - was with you, but I told them you weren't here. I didn't want to hurt you. I'm not going to hurt you. Do whatever you want, Peter, I won't hurt you."

He doesn't speak. He doesn't know what to say. I can't really blame him. How do you respond to this?

"I love you, Tom."


"You'll like Greece."

"Did you hear what I said, Peter?"

"I heard you. Of course I heard you. And I certainly can't condone what you did."

God, I love him.

"But I can't imagine my life without you. I don't want to."

I can't speak. I'm afraid he'll change his mind if I say anything.

"I love you, Tom."

He keeps saying that.

"You keep saying that."

"That's because I mean it, and I want you to know."

"But it doesn't matter. I killed people. I deserve to be caught and punished for it."

"And I won't dispute that. But I'm not going to be the one to turn you in."

"Why not?"

"If you keep asking, we'll be up all night. I love you and I don't want to ever have to live without you. It's not going to satisfy you, but it's the only answer I have."

"Did I mention Peter is insane?"

"This is a good thing?"

"This is a good thing."

Again, he pulls me close. I can feel myself start to cry again. Is this what love is? That you don't care about anything but the other person? That you don't care about his past, or what everyone else thinks, or anything else? You just care about that person so much that you can't imagine ever waking up in the morning and not seeing his face?

As we fall asleep, I know that tomorrow when I wake up, he'll be there. He'll be there every morning for the rest of my life.

The night passes much too quickly. I want to stay here forever, but I know I can't. I want to be there for him when he wakes up, but I know I won't.

I know he loves me. I can only hope he knows how much I love him.

I disentangle myself from him, crying quietly, wanting nothing more than to stay beside him forever.

The tie lies forgotten on the floor. I pick it up, the soft brown material still damp from my tears. I don't want him to think I've abandoned him. I'd doing this for him.

If I keep telling myself that maybe I'll actually start to believe it.

I want to tell him that I don't want to leave him. I want to explain to him that I have to do this. I want to explain to him why it could never work. But my hand won't move and I don't know how to tell him.

How do you tell the man you love that you're off to kill yourself? How do you tell him that you're dying in his place? How do you tell him that you're doing this because you love him?

How do you tell him you're sorry?


I stand on the deck of the boat as the sun comes up.

iI wish I could have been there when you woke up./i

The tie is soft, but strong.

iI wish, just once, we could have watched the sun come up./i

Strong enough for my purposes, at least.

iI wish I could have made it to your concert in Greece./i


iI wish I could spend a lifetime learning every way to make you smile./i

It winds tightly around my wrists.

iI wish I could devote an entire afternoon just to memorizing your laugh./i

A little give, but it will suffice.

iI wish I could spend our lives learning that I could never love you more than I already do./i

A simple motion, leaning quickly over the side.

/iI wish I could find out the one thing that makes you the happiest./i

I can hear him as I fall.


Then I hear nothing.

iThe one thing you just can't live without./i