Dear James,

Well, they found out about you today. I knew it had to happen sometime, but I was so desperately hoping that it would be closer to graduation so that I wouldn't have to deal with all the crap.

It's not like it's any of their business, you know? I never flaunted it in their faces, pretending I had a secret admirer. If anybody asked what I was doing, I said that I was writing in my diary, not that I was writing to a pen pal or anything. I never pretended that you existed to anyone but myself, but apparently I'm not even allowed to do that.

It was Marlene, of course. You just knew it would be her and not someone that I might be able to explain things to properly. Or someone that I would just flat out not care about… although we both know that I basically care about everyone's opinion anyway, making that a moot point.

She was in one of those moods. I've probably described that Marlene kind of mood to you before, but I'm willing to forgive you for having forgotten some minute detail mentioned about a million letters ago. She's so normal most of the time, but then she gets into this phase of excitement, or something, and she suddenly can't imagine that other people have boundaries. She'll sit down at a lunch table and just start forcing herself on people or… pick up my 'diary' despite my protests.

She gave me this whole 'Oh, Lily, what does it matter' kind of attitude that just… I don't know. Now, thinking back, it's so clear to me that it's a gross invasion of privacy. But there's something about Marlene when she's in this kind of mood that just makes your mind totally blank. You feel like every argument you make only has convention to defend it, and like it is therefore a weak argument.

So she picked it up. And I tried to grab it back, James, I really did. But she read the beginning of your last letter.

And big, bloody surprise, she didn't understand.

It was in your voice, sure, and it was you speaking, but all she could see was that it was in my handwriting and in my diary- the diary that basically never leaves my side.

She was loud about it, too. What with all the people who heard her talking about it and this school's horror of (but fascination with) anything weird or out of the ordinary, it will have already spread school-wide. I don't know for sure, since I'm sitting in a bathroom writing you instead of facing all the derision out there. But it's going to be bad.

Anyway, it went something to the effect of 'You write yourself letters? From a boy? And then you write back?"

I can't express the contempt in her voice except with italics. I can't even describe how small I felt. And the worst of it is that this is something I do that is outside of convention, and I still can't defend it. If Marlene did this, she'd fix anyone who gave her a hard time about it with her withering stare and somehow make it seem like writing letters back and forth to and from yourself was an incredibly cool thing to do.

But as you and I both know, James, I'm me. Sometimes I think you're the only person who loves me, James, or who ever will. And of course, Marlene had a field day with that one. It was one of the particularly sappy letters you had sent me. I don't understand why it couldn't have been one of long debates about philosophy, or something. Probably because fate (I know, I know, you don't believe in fate) wanted my soul to be crushed in as agonizing a way as possible. God forbid I should have any shred of dignity to defend myself with.

She just doesn't get it, James. She doesn't get why you are so much easier to deal with that a real boy, why you are so much more satisfying in some ways. You understand me perfectly. You're always there for me. You're impossibly faithful and loyal, you literally cannot ever be interested in other, prettier girls… you don't judge unless I want you too. You're honest in exactly the way that I need you to be honest. Frank, but tactful.

It's like you're castrated but manly at the same time. And I can say that to you and know that you will interpret it one hundred percent as I meant it. I can use short hand and shortcut through ideas I have already had, and you will respond exactly as I need you to.

I don't know, James. You've been my crutch for so many years. And I love you. Sure, it's a weird kind of love. Sure, I know that it shouldn't replace reality. But I'm ugly and I'm weird and I'm awkward, so why does Marlene have to take away the one thing I have that makes me feel good?

And now this feels weird, James. All the shame that I have always repressed as I've written you… it's here now. It's threatening to take over, and I'm afraid that it will tip the balance, James, and that my shame will outweigh all the good that these letters do for me.

And then they won't be worth writing anymore, James. And I'll never hear from you again. I'll never look forward to an evening of free time when we can send letters back and forth. I'll never be amazed when your words come flowing from my fingers, so different from my own voice.

God, James. I love you. And if I have to give you up, I think it might break my heart.

Am I pathetic, James?

Am I pathetic?

Love,

Lily

READ ME PLEASE:

When I say that I wrote this for you, fanfiction, I mean that I wrote it for me. I wrote it for the girl that I was before I got to high school. It's been four glorious and wonderful years since then, but I still remember what it was like.

I still remember what it was like when Fanfic was literally my only out.

I deleted a lot of my stories in embarrassment when I got to high school. I suddenly had a ton of friends, and I figured out that you don't need to be pretty—just funny.

But this is for anyone who hasn't worked that out yet. For anyone who still feels pathetic, who hasn't had their first kiss, who doesn't know how to talk to boys…

It's okay.

Boys will come. They won't be like fanfiction, but you'll find that most of the time, that is a really, really good thing. (Even if it would be nice to have someone who was willing to stick with you despite seven years of abuse. Someone who thought you were that special.)

Don't hate yourself if you are this girl. You are not pathetic. I promise.

And if you don't identify with this at all… then just laugh at me for opening myself up like this. That's fine. Just know that I'm trying this new thing where I take myself seriously every once in a while. And it is a hell of a lot harder than just jokesing around all the time.