How to Be (5)

Samantha Edmonds


A normal life

Finish your career as an undergrad. Expect an engagement ring for a graduation present. You are not mistaken. Pretend not to know what’s happening when the golden-eyed boy takes you to a fancy restaurant, the one in the city that overlooks the river. When he gets down on one knee, put your hands on your chest. Cry when he asks you. Kiss him on the mouth, like you have done hundreds of times. Following this path, you will never kiss any mouth but this one, not ever.

Frame your creative writing degree and put it on the wall. Half-heartedly write stories but never submit them to magazines. The golden-eyed boy is supportive but doesn’t ask to read anything you write. This is fine because you will never finish anything you start. Your mother is still your biggest fan. She will be your only reader but she will be proud. She will begin to ask about what’s next—jobs, money, mortgages, that’s what she believes makes a good life. Let writing become a hobby.

Plan your wedding with the golden-eyed boy and the rest of your life, too. Save yourself and your virginity for marriage. Ask him to stop drinking. On both accounts, he won’t mind. He is so happy to be with you, he will do anything you want, except stay in the city where you were born. He has a job and a home up north and has carved a spot for you in the life he has built. You are welcome to it. You are small; you can fit into the space he has made for you. Your mother will cry every time she thinks about you moving more than half an hour away.

You are twenty-one years old. Hesitate. Think to yourself, what else can you do with a BA in English?

To accept the life he is offering and make it work with work, go to Section 7.

To go to grad school close to home rather than be his, jump to page Section 8.