I swear to God it’s been seventy-two hours and already I have heard thirteen different versions of her life story, up to and including the part where she falls out of the sky and into the bed of the boy who loves me but thinks he doesn’t.
In one version she is me-only-better: smarter, more attractive, more patient, less crazy. In one version she speaks four languages and can fly. In one version she is clever but ugly. In one version she is vapid but drop-dead gorgeous. In one version she is an astronaut. Or a bellhop. I don’t fucking know. I am the best friend. I haven’t slept in three days.
In my version her name is Mavis and she has herpes.
Not in that hushed, sidelong way people in herpes-treatment commercials have herpes. Not like I may have herpes but I still go windsailing and bicycling and spend romantic evenings on the beach with my attractive lover, who may or may not be aware that I have herpes. No. In my version Mavis has itchy-blister herpes and it burns when she pees. She has it so notoriously that when I tell my other friends he's suddenly crazy about this girl Mavis, they exclaim delightedly and cover their mouths and whisper Not Herpes Mavis.
Yes, I say. Herpes Mavis.
In my version I am too good a person to tell this story this way this soon. I explain that this is all for my own amusement, that nothing is funnier to me than assigning a sexually transmitted disease to someone I’ve never met. That it’s Mavis because I was thirteen the last time I felt this crazy, running Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing on a Classic Macintosh in my middle school’s computer room and I could never move my fingers the right way without looking at them. The graphic with the fuzzy gray hands over the keys didn’t help and I got a C in computer class. A private joke, see? Just for me.
In my version I write her a series of letters saying Dear Mavis I’m sorry about the herpes, it’s nothing personal, it’s just that I hate you. Dear Mavis he calls me from your bed while you’re in the bathroom to tell me his allergies were really bad today and he has this leaked copy of this record I just need to hear, okay, gotta go, goodnight. Dear Mavis why exactly in the hell do you think he is doing that. Dear Mavis I’m sure you’re a lovely person with a fantastic sense of humor and one day after you’re out of his life you and I will realize how alike we are and share a laugh but until that day, until that day, Mavis, I will neither see nor speak to you on purpose. In my version I write the letters in swirly script on scented paper, for irony.
In my version Mavis does not appreciate irony. She wears a pair of thick dark non-prescription eyeglasses and laughs squeakily, like a high-school cheerleader in a coming-of-age movie about an ugly girl who doesn’t make the cheerleading squad.
And also she has herpes. Did I mention that?
In my version I will eventually have to meet her on the sidewalk and nod or shake her hand. I will reinvent her a thousand times over in the spaces between her blinks. I will type and type with phantom hands and will myself not to look down.
About the author:
Aubrey Henretty can type with her eyes shut. She lives in Chicago.