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November 22, 2023 Fiction

luv letters

tori canning

luv letters photo

2. i'm always down/yearning to write a love letter. i'm in the shower thinking thoughts more eloquent than usual. it’s nearly midnight. i’ve adjusted the cold water countless times. i picture you lying diagonal across the mattress. when i finally get to bed i'll walk from the shower to the sleep, naked in the darkness. our room feels even bigger than usual, my eyes have not adjusted so i feel conscious you can see me while i can’t see you. except that you’re sleeping-- neither of us can see either of us. at the foot of the bed i'll bang my shin softly and fall asleep shortly.


3. the night before his birthday we went for a run, the days are longer now, we did yoga and ate cake before taking the g nearly to the end. we had fun and dinner at wen wen. afterwards, we walked into the big wind towards the big water, looking out at so, so much city. it was so cold, i was so full, i was so happy exactly where i was. e sang jason anderson songs. elihu’s never heard of ankle socks. we laughed like we so often do, though i really doubled over, carefree, heartfilled. sauntering back towards the train we walked into 2 separate bars and walked right back out of them. epic. so we got beers at the deli, the g train immediately, i cracked mine on the semi crowded car, elihu didn't. at church ave we got off. on to the long walk home that won’t phase us. (time and temperature lessen in these drunk with drink and vibes type of times.) we go to shenanigans, i set my glass-half-full lime-a-rita down on the sidewalk. we went in. 4 men: 1 behind the bar, 1 with a laptop, 1 with a lap dog and the other one, sat at the corner of the bar. mutually greeting us as we walked in, the only other ppl in the bar. we got narragansetts. they played some diy nyc trivia. there are 36 subway lines, (letters & numbers) when the clock struck midnight, elihu turned 26. we went home shortly after a shot of whisky. the walk wasn't memorable. elihu did some friday night related emailing, i swiped around on my phone. soon we fucked sweetly and fell asleep. I love you, elihu. i always have and i always will.



4. dramatic and unembarrassed in the park on a small grassy mound west of the boat house where i will take engagement photos with my husband. no swans, just turtles. ruston kelly on the radio. (the silly one about getting high on CBD. kid lake says it sounds like phoebe bridgers. karsen’s studio mate tattooed phoebe bridgers.)


trust, softy emo, going for a walk, having a little talk. this time i'm serious but forgiving, i have taken ahold of myself. this time it can feel regular. i wish i wasn't a fighter.


10. so e, this is going to be my saddest love letter yet. i feel grateful to you, endlessly.  i am very hurt right now and am very scared because we won’t be together for 2 weeks, so what a sore note to leave one another with. i wonder if you meant what you said when you said, go to sleep and leave me the fuck alone. in an embarassing drunk slur. i told you you are an asshole and i think i meant it.  i hated hearing that from you, the only full sentence you could form and i can’t sleep and for that i blame you. i am sorry i didn’t’ realize you weren’t waiting up. could have had proper expectations followed by a proper bedtime. i am cold and shaking, how do i find it in me to forgive you with no context. i know you didnt mean what you said. or at least i know you would have used to not mean that. but maybe ive fucked it up and that’s how you really feel. and if that is the truth i am so much more angry at myself than i could ever be towards you. you are my whole earth and that is why it's fallen out from under me just now. that is was i feel cockroaches crawling across my feet and smoked a broken cigarette and thought of calling gabe, asking him what happened. what did you do tonight. why don’t you want to tend to me. how can you be in such a space. a resolution could have been to wake up briefly with me in order to snuggle and rock each other to sleep. if you remember what you said in the morning i will be surprised. i hope we can still take each other to work with love and care. i will need that. i hope i'm able to be cordial and remind you what went wrong. able to accept you in the morning. the wind is extravagant tonight and the sirens keep taking the fire fighters to the scene of the fallen tree. i am thinking about going for a run but i don't want to be kidnapped, though i sort of do want to disappear. i think of walking to my parents house. i really wish i could talk to you now. this piece of writing is not meant to be read by me or anyone, though i think i’ll read it in the morning and feel so sad. my leg is bouncing. i will smoke again, i will fall asleep at some point but it's not now. you rest peacefully, i hate to say it.


when i got home i called for you, i was surprised to not see you reading in the living room. i went in the dark bedroom nervous you never made it home, in my boots i sat next to you on the bed. you said you were sorry, but your body and brain allowed you to fall back asleep. so i walked back to the front door, slid my back down. next to the other wet shoes, still in my coat, i unlaced. both my toes had punctured through their socks and were bruised. i began to cry. i ran the shower. i hit my tard bar. i felt bad. i showered and came right to you knowing you would feel so good in my arms. you made no room for me. i tried to ask you to hold me. this is when i understood you werent communicable. i felt like i was talking to someone i didnt know. i felt scared and empty. this is where ive been left. i will miss you for 13 days, i might have to come visit. i hope you'll have me.


13. i’m lying on the hardwood to drain the blood from my feet. saturday night had not been good to me. tequila cupped next to me. e was giddy to share his record store haul, he commented, the record stores gonna be a problem. endless goodies! he told me close your eyes. he put on hardy, the second side. my smile fell back to my ears on my face from gravity, bliss and easy listening. rock star.


i had a willy wonky type interaction at the liquor store--

on the sidewalk i was made to squeeze between the boys and the trash and the boy stepped back and bumped me over. i fell into trash into the liquor store where a man with mystic energy gestured grandly as i hopped thru the door. i smiled greatly. i was a little drunk prior. finishing his transaction, he sauntered over like captain jack sparrow. i was looking for a bottle of rye. he did ballet movements to show me the wall. i specified sazerac.


18. a bachelor's degree. it must mean something afterall / nothing at all. we love to learn together. i hear max wants to finish school too. its boyfriend-in-college-in-the-fall era. goodnight moon. i feel worried about things in general. talent, and the odds we face, are nothing new. people are abundant, full of audacity and interdependence. i will be with you, and you, me. i will wash my face, burn my eyebrows. things will never be the same. drop me off on the corner. please do not shout. kiss me to infinity and beyond. most of these sentences will be deleted. my vocab feels disjointed, haughty, sensational, guttural. i cannot spell and i do not wish to.


21. elihu is in the big church with a graveyard where he makes music and sleeps in a tall bed. i slept there once. we watched the last waltz on the floor, he told me everything for the first time. we shared a silly trip to the grocery. the world would be empty without us.


i don’t wish we still lived across states, it’s just always been golden.


22. maybe around this time, maybe two years ago we met in fort greene park. i brought 2 jelly jars inside socks to keep them from rattling or breaking. you brought nice wines that sparkled just how i like. i got there a little bit before you, you rode your bike, though i only saw you walking it across grass. you were very sweet, we were both shining, the mosquitos were eating me alive. so it must have been later summer than this. though today, april 11, 2023 there’s a red flag warning and it’s supposed to be 80-something.


23. one day on nostrand a summer ago, walking back from another grand grocery trip, elihu carrying limes (notoriously) squeezing me, he said i can’t imagine fighting with you. we don’t have to imagine anymore.


e went to see raging bull. my email is darling, i am raging. i turn 25 in two weeks, taurus season begins tomorrow. actually it's starting exactly right now. how serendipitous! happy midnight! i feel baffled. he said the theater was full of nyu fuck-boy-film students. a real boy’s movie. now obsessing over boxing, we’ll stream a match later. now obsessing over their trunks and bravado. i carry the weight of my worst choices.


walking opposite distances down ocean, e and i met the front door in tandem, he was wearing pipebomb shorts and a striped long sleeve tee. we kissed on the lips while i removed my airpods. inside he ate jerk chicken, we watched star wars. (my first time) we were rusty with hangover, neither sunshine nor chicken revived us. we snuggled, i napped, we fucked around on the couch, he napped. the closed laptop was cold on my low back.


26. i woke back up to my phone ringing. it’s dr. jones calling to tell me the IUD is shipping with a $0 co-pay, major key. i twisted myself out of bed, though deep & tired, i went for a run, listening to new owl city, realizing he’s making jesus music. these are perfect running tunes, at least for now. i saw devon and patrick and patrick’s dog in the park. it was a beautiful lake day. the sky way bluer than the water, the water way more glimmering than i. devon is starting a new job, going on a 3rd date, they congratulated me for quitting.


solution: build on what ground one has, do not abandon the plan, finish the story.


i drove with the windows down through neighborhoods with enough grass to cut & smell. the pollen dusted our hair. then did the sand. i parked on brightwater, mostly empty beach, most everyone was russian and at home. it was so windy that the birds could only fly in one direction.

don’t get scared, i look horrible. the sound falls out and it all becomes quiet, i admit i like this part.


we eat our tacos, meet sarah, walk towards where brooklyn turns into queens. the four of us share a camel crush for the special edition pack sarah’s been saving and sharing since e’s release show. i’m romanticizing our unit, finding it more special each iteration. we split 2 tabs 4 ways before the jai paul show. i felt safe mostly.


31. the thunder in my teeth

the man yelling at us with no front teeth


i began to shake from the inside out. at 42 st a seat opened and i sat down and hyperventilated downtown.


in the shower my feet are draining in slow, depressed runoff.  elihu's eating peanuts.


to the boys behind you on the booth, to the plea for space, to the way you all take responsibility, to my disappointed self. to songs with my eyes shut, to timers indicating the beginning or the end of a sleep or wash cycle, to the burning, to the laughter, to the footsteps running 3.5 miles, to the video editing, to the cheerleaders, to the honking, to the guilt, to the stereo in each ear, to the carbonation, to the need for space, to the drugs. to the undeserved safety, to the goalie, to the sad birds and dads, to the happy melodies and memories, to myself lying. to my body, to my bosses, oh my darling and ghosts of mentor’s past, to bells and whistles, to e’s hesitant and acute thoughts, to directions and misdirections, to kids yelling out their windows to one another, to men in small hats singing. to hives on my hands, to the umpire, to the cashier, to the sound of my phone connecting to the bluetooth, to the crude jokes. to my growling stomach, to the demonic magazine, to my smokey exhale, to the exterior rust, to jackhammers and tree planters. to the patterns in my misbehavior. to him telling me the patterns in my misbehavior. to my defensive retorts, to my factless opinions, to my shrill firing voice, to our arguments the same this time. to our defeat, to our spontaneity, to our insurmountable fervor, to each his own.


e’s been waking up before me to read danish novels about alcoholism, to comment on singer-songwriter tik-tok, to start the laundry, to start the dread, to set the tone and to turn on the coffee grinder. i’ll saunter out shortly, wrapped in the top sheet, he’ll kiss my forehead. we check in with one another, hoping tired eyes keep us gentle instead of grouchy. i feel full cleaning the various rooms we live in. his hand swipes my waist suggesting bagels for breakfast. while we switch from wash to dry we get breakfast sandwiches from the cute russian lady in windsor terrace. it’s warm and sunny on the sidewalk, sesame bagels begin to bake on the pavement. e says the city is a battery. we conceive and convince of our beach day


paranoid about the sun at high noon, we lather again and again. we read until we’re hungry. we walk, me topless and e barefoot, to the car, depositing our sandy haul, and returning to tatiana’s, the restaurant we first noticed last winter-- a beachside russian grill, loosely sea food oriented, you can buy various vodkas by the liter, this will become our favorite spot.


hi how are you

no problem

two of us

here-- this will be good for you. our server, mike, brought beer and martinis, french fries and pelmeni. he commented on elihu’s niche & nerdy fitness watch. mike wore dark sunglasses and spoke slowly, rich with russian regionalisms. he is our new friend and he will recognize us next time. i told him we’d be back tomorrow. he said no! its going to be rainy out. this begins my luv letter 2 brighton.


we drove home, fought over parking, felt cyclical and mean: unproductive. i have felt sweeter and less worthy since.


crowded weeknight q trains, we mustn’t ruin this. i giggled and rested flat against your front body, leaning on closed train doors, wee wee wee, all the way home.



i feel as distinctly distant from myself when i say i’m sorry as e does when he says fuck you. the shower curtain between me and you, i am snarky and selfish, you are strong and careful, i fall to my knees on plastic or porcelain. you can see my fingers peeking out under the curtain on the bathtub floor. the water is hot and continues to beat my body as i lie naked on your side of the bed.


experiments with fictional elements


i was sitting at the kitchen table reading junk mail and cookbooks. i was hanging out the window gathering social cues, smoking a camel blue i found on the window sill, i was wandering in my socks, pacing pleasantly, asking questions and tittering.


in the middle of the night i will sit on your leg on a swivel chair, watching your favorite music videos, galvanizing our similarities. we transport ourselves into the future.


35. run it off. i’d rather write with toggling fingers, unable to read my own screen, i’d rather lie to the doctor, abandon my savings account, see the sun rise, stupid and full of sorrow. i’d rather feel younger, i’d rather feel like everybody else.


36. the ugly one


the big feeling that i can’t put words to


i'm scared that your getting sober has changed what i thought our life looked like. our dates and our dances, our sex and our dinners, our friends and our parties, our movies and our romances, our vacations and our family. now im thinking tori, its sort of disgusting of you to think this. maybe so, but the morning you woke up and chose sobriety, maybe for now, maybe forever, i wasn’t prepared.


to shift my the nature of my romance. i do not feel better yet from writing. so keep going. i’m probably not the best partner to someone wanting to get sober. i want to have breakfast drinks with breakfast sandwiches in the park on this monday morning. i feel dreadfully selfish. i’m feeling grave.


to date someone sober turns alcohol evil. or rather, alcohol is evil, and i can no longer ignore this. i love you more than anything. it feels hard to sign on to this. for better or for worse i have defined us by our habits of indulgence and luxury. alcohol is top tier, and i loved that part of us.