His birthday was only three days away, and Hannah had to find Tom the perfect gift: prescient, ingenious, unique, unforgettable. All week long, she’d been looking for clues from the universe. She scoured the Internet, scanned mail-order catalogs, stole peeks inside other people’s briefcases. Finally, she found herself resorting to desperate measures, and was trying to read the minds of the men seated across from her on the commuter train. She stared at them under the bright lights and asked telepathically: “What do you want most in the world that costs under $200 and would fit in a box?”

There was another woman. Tom had done everything he could to assure Hannah the woman was just a pen pal, and described what they had as that clever little word, a “correspondence.” But it was easy for Hannah to tell that her nemesis was no mere pal of the pen. She was more like a Playboy centerfold with stationery.

Tom had met the woman six months ago at a summer writing seminar in Prague. Hannah’s first warning sign came when she was relating the story to her best friend.

“He met her at some summer camp? What’d they do, sit around, toast marshmallows and sing by the campfire?”

“It wasn’t summer camp, it was a writing workshop.”

“Oh,” Nihan said. “So they sat around, drank whiskey, and screwed.”

~This story may be read in its entirety in the Summer 2007 issue of Inkwell.~


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