about the author

Tara Kipnees received a BA in English from Tufts University in 2007. After graduating, she worked for Swink Magazine, and then in the art and non-profit fields. She is currently editor of the online writers’ forum Voices in Space. At a bar four years ago, she spilled a drink on Kiera Knightley’s Louboutins. The actress’s career has torpedoed ever since. Her writing has been published in Salon, Serving House Journal, Tikkun, and You Should Be Here.

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Tara Kipnees

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she was looking up burn victims in asia.

he was talking to her about how much he loves her.

as much as she wanted it to be true, she wanted to prove it to him, because she knew he needed the proof, but she kept looking at her computer, scared that if she looked at him, he would look like he didn’t know it.

why are you being quiet he asked, what’s wrong, you know i love you.

it’s not you (it was) she said, i’m looking at this article. twenty-nine breathtaking photos, one was of an acid burn victim and her daughter. i can’t believe that happens.

she said it to show him how she was scared about the world, too, but then immediately felt bad, recognizing why she said it, that she didn’t say it for the victims, but for herself, and felt that her true concern for them was disingenuous, because she could think of them so separately from herself, in that moment, and wondered what kind of a person was capable of doing that, cheapening the pain of others to make herself look better. she knew he loved her, and she loved him. god the things we do to feel loved. love makes us all despicable, she thought. she wondered what part of herself made her tell him what she was looking up. she wondered why she was even looking it up. because she cared, or to feel better, to feel like their love, however big, meant nothing, like his doubt, and her requirement to accept it was small in the face of what real people face. this she knew, but not whether she felt for the women, with paper mache skulls wrapped in frayed scarves. she wondered if she really believed the world was bigger than herself, or if she just wanted to believe it to minimize her pain. if it was the latter, was she just one of the people she hated. maybe he was right to doubt his love.

she knew he couldn’t live without her. she knew he couldn’t live without her. when they first met, he felt like he had touched a great white shark. though she always felt she had tricked him into being with her. he, with his mind full of knowledge, half magnificent, half useless. he, who had sex only once before her, because he couldn’t bring himself to be so close to a person without knowing her. she once tried to write about him, but she was scared she wouldn’t be able to capture him, scared he would sound too unbelievable, so many qualities in conflict with each other. they have the same taste in movies, even though you wouldn’t expect it from her (she looked more like the type who likes to squeeze your shoulder when bruce willis loads up). but really, what wouldn’t he expect from her? nothing would surprise me, he once told her. she could confess she was a russian spy and he wouldn’t bat an eyelash. in high school, they both thought “no rain” was the greatest song of all time and laid the world bare. in college, they both hated drugs, though she did them often. now she took percocet every day. she knew she was addicted, but thought it was okay because she knew. but she still didn’t tell anyone. and the not telling well, that’s not true. she would tell people half-truths. she, who once weighed seventy-eight pounds. she, who once ate and threw up a whole cake in the parking lot of a church at 3 a.m. and drove back the next day to leave a note that read: “i’m sorry. —atheist bulimic.” she, who was once so beautiful a famous actor, whom she never named, came up to her in a coffee shop and told her to always wear a hat, because it was too much to look at her straight on. she, who is beautiful again, thin, but healthy, though it is against her nature to be so (healthy). she, who reads books to her daughter every night about fairies, both of them believing.

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