I got an envelope in the mail and I opened it and pulled out an index card which said in red crayon: POSITIVE VIBES.
My friends asked me how my day was and I said somebody sent me positive vibes.
"What do positive vibes look like?" asked Peter, slamming a coppery beer on the bar under his elbows.
"What do they feel like?" asked Jem the bartender in big earrings. "Do they work?"
"Do you feel positive now?" asked a dude in black sitting a ways down.
I said, they look like this, and I showed them the red crayon index card against the blackening oak of the bar.
I got another index card a couple days later. Also in the mailbox.
Who even uses mail anymore? I said. I pulled the slim paper card from the mailslot and held it in my palm, light as a text.
This time it said in an open scrawl: I'M SORRY.
Who on earth is saying I'm sorry to me? I said, disdainfully, like spitting. Like I didn't care about the air around me, like the air can go fuck itself.
Although I secretly knew who it was, inside.
Then I walked down the block thinking about exactly that person. I wish she would stop saying I'm sorry, I thought. I don't want your positive vibes, I thought even harder.
I smoked my cigarette in a way that made the cigarette feel like it didn't matter to me at all. Or anyone looking at me either.
I steal aviators from gas stations. I have a messenger bag with no messages inside. I wear things that boys wear but I am a girl.
I make hard, straightforward strides toward where I am going, making it clear that I am not one to go in unplanned directions of any kind, not one to be veered off her path left or right or in a direction of your choosing. Of her choosing.
The next index card came a couple days later and said, red: TIME AND SPACE.
I threw the index card away without ripping it up.
Don't you see that I'm going somewhere? I said, but louder this time, beaming it out from the top of my own head without using any words at all.
Nobody makes me angry ever. I don't want to feel angry ever.
Where did you get my home address? I beamed the words out to the area surrounding my body.
I have never once given you my home address. You've been there, but that doesn't mean you know the address. This note just feels like you are reminding me on purpose that you have been inside of where I live many times, had breakfast there, come there, gotten drunk there, lied there, stayed there, but you have to see that for me, all of that has practically never even happened, by now.
The next index card was just the shell of the card. The meat had been cut out of the center leaving an oblong, rounded hole inside of its paper rectangle.
And what exactly the hell am I supposed to do with this? I thought, loud enough for everybody to hear me.
I pushed the bar door out of my way and sat right down on the spinny wooden stool.
"Can someone please tell me what this is, exactly?" I slapped the hollowed index card on the bar.
Peter wiped a dollop of foam dripping down a tall IPA.
"I think that's space," Peter said, regarding the index card's missing innards. "I know because I have been given space before." He sipped his tower of beer. "You have been given space."
"Yup," said a dude in black down a ways. "That's space if I have ever seen space."
"We are all given space sometimes." said Jem, two yellow plastic stars swinging on either side of her face as she nodded.
I crossed my heart with my messenger bag. I slid off the stool like it didn't deserve me.
"Aren't you going to take it?" they said.
But I turned my shoulders sharp and clear to the door, and was half gone by the time anyone could think I would.
"Well, if you aren't going to take it, I will," said Jem. She ran her hand through the gouge in the index card, and the paper shell hung on her wrist like a bracelet.
I reverse-slammed the door, opening it as wide as possible behind me as she waved goodbye.
I walked down the block, but harder than before.
I don't want your space. I told you to get out of my life and you send me space. Apparently you can't understand basic messages.
I smoked a cigarette like I didn't even want it. I walked on the sidewalk like I was tired of its cement.
I blocked you everywhere it is possible to block somebody. You have nothing left but old technology to reach me. I don't even have an email account.
Eventually, the index cards really piled up.
"You seem surrounded by paper," said everyone at the bar.
My mailbox had a new note everyday. Even the days without a note took up space. Paper piled in my hands and in my bag, it fell on the streets and didn't disintegrate. The notes made one long track from my mailbox to everywhere I went.
"Every time we see you, there is more paper added." Jem commented, two lime green rectangles bobbing.
"It comes to me in the mail, okay?" I said.
"I thought mail was over," said a dude in black in the corner.
"That's true, actually, mail is over," said Peter, nursing a milky stout.
"Then, where is all this paper coming from?"
I am a paperless person. I talk to my friends on a compact screen in my hand. When they change I know about it because their pictures change. I have no books in my house. I smoke pre-rolled cigarettes without any loose leaves. I have a streamlined look that doesn't come from trees. I have slick, short hair that I style wet and a leather jacket that reflects light off of its black, I look like I have just dived in the ocean and paper does not do well in water.
I course into the street and move in a direction I know about and you don't.
I don't talk, I don't need to talk to anyone. I talk to Dave when we drink whiskey, I talk to Jon when we watch TV, I don't need words, I don't need conversations. Anything that needs to be said is just as good unsaid.
The last index card I ever get says: LOVE.
Insistent red, insistent crayon.
Eat shit. I think it hard to the sky. No pen, no air.
I rip up LOVE and throw it to the ground. In fact, I step on it.
My words don't need paper. I make words so clear I beam them from my body, from my thin narrow frame. My words have no typos, I make no mistakes.
Arms locked at my sides, I move faster, clear to anyone who can see me that I am not one to turn left or right once I have chosen my way.
I throw my cigarette like it makes me sick.
I am happier than I have ever been.
Becca Wild holds an MFA in Fiction from Antioch University in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Huffington Post, Maudlin House, Trampset, Chronogram
and additional publications. Her story "Shoulder Span" received a nomination for Sundress Best of the Net. She is a member of the Kingston Writers' Studio in Kingston, New York. Twitter