Charlie really wasn’t stalking her. Really. It took daily talking-to-self to convince Charlie of that, but Charlie knew. This wasn’t stalking.


This wasn’t the first time they’d had this conversation. Charlie knew this was a problem. A problem with exes. A problem with exes for Charlie in particular.

They blurred together after a while. The kicks. The little tiny kicks of this-is-my-new-kitty-with-my-new-girlfriend and the sorry-so-busy-gotta-cancel.

Charlie had to wonder. Charlie always wondered. For context, Charlie knew every single person that had been in the one and only bed that was big enough to allow two comfortably. Charlie knew who had been in the extra-long bed at college, and then in Spain, the year abroad. Charlie knew who had been in the chair in front of the childhood desk and the bathroom where on hands and knees the first blowjob happened and the room in the crumbling house across the tracks so to speak where the couch held two uncomfortably but plausibly.

Charlie wasn’t a dumper, nor a dumpee. Things were pretty equal on that front. Charlie knew not to question the past, and did it anyway.  With Evvie, it was always xx. Babes. That was the worst. Charlie wasn’t a babe, didn’t deserve the kisses.

Charlie wasn’t stalking anyone. But they made her feel like she was. So when the police found her in her Berlin apartment, not hanging by a rope, not lying in a bathtub full of blood, not blown up with an illegal gun, but just lying on the couch, her mouth frothing a little bit and a row of pills beside her and no note, they knew it was suicide by depression. Charlie knew it wasn’t suicide. She wasn’t a romantic. It was surgery, extracting the pins and needles from the pieces of her brain where she thought her heart must lie.

ILANA MASAD is a fiction writer and book critic. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Tin House, Printer’s Row, McSweeney’s, and more. She is the founder and host of The Other Stories, a podcast featuring new, emerging, and struggling writers. She tweets too much @ilanaslightly.