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She rattles off a clatter up the ladder as she writes electric letters to her mother about matters of disaster. When I ask her if she’s mad, she says she doesn’t have it in her. It’s just another Saturday in the cavern-cold arcade where the guests are always gusting, their requests are so disgusting. Why don’t you swirl the photos like leaves on an autumn day, I say. Swirl them on the carpet, before I can cart it away. In the loft, we never did consider the cost. When you get all that space, think of what you lost.

She’s still typing something frantic, no doubt about her antics. I know what you were doing the other side of the Atlantic. It was cheap, cheap, low, dirty, dirty, tap tap tap tap, does you mother sympathize? If she does, it’s no surprise. She has a right to fantasize no one should ever be denied. But not on my time, when you’re using my phone line—the computer’s also mine—while you disseminate the message that it’s tough, but you’ll be fine. You will not be mine, but you will not be fine. But I really can’t say why. I sat forever on that line. How can I say I don’t want you to be OK, and that I don’t agree that being kind is the best way? It’s just so sad I’m not invited. Go ahead and just keep writing. Tap tap tap drifting down to me below. Tell your mom I say hello from the loft. We never did consider the cost. When you get all that space, think of what you lost.

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from The Envelope Pushes Back (2000), released October 10, 2000

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