excerpts from Person/a

By - Apr 21, 2017

A friend of mine accused me yesterday of being self-centered and I could not argue her accusation. I was already aware of my self-centered-ness before she accused me of it. I have developed an addict’s one-track mind. I don’t know if this is actual self-centeredness or an inability to talk think/care about anything other than the source of one’s addiction, in my case: Ian. I wanted to tell her I was less self-centered than Ian-centered but I did not think she would recognize the distinction. Also, I worried that discussing it further would only serve to strengthen her accusation regarding my self-centeredness. Instead I ended the conversation saying I was busy and then turned on my computer and searched his name for a half an hour on the Internet.




Lately I have been wondering how many accidental car crashes are misdiagnosed suicides. It seems that if your intent is to kill yourself without afterward being thought an asshole by your friends and family, running your car into a tree or telephone pole would be the way to do it. Nobody gets hurt and everyone chalks it up as a “freak occurrence.” Of course now that I’ve posed the question in this form, I have eliminated it as a possibility for myself. I mean, I could still do it, but everyone would know for sure I am an asshole.




Things I could no longer envision myself enduring: the departure airport, the flight, sitting next to a stranger, trying not to vomit while sitting next to a stranger, the arrival airport, the taxi ride, the city, the reading, people at the reading, people who asked us to do the reading, the possibility of Sadie being at the reading, the possibility of other young women who may or may not have fucked or tried to fuck Ian being at the reading, the possibility of other young women who may or may not have done drugs with Ian being at the reading, the physical act of reading, of standing in front of these people who may or may not have fucked or done drugs with Ian, of having to make small talk with them after, of being asked to do drugs with them after, of being the person who won’t do drugs with them after, of being written about in blog posts or on social media as being the one who won’t do drugs with them after.




After the tour is over, Sadie posts a “drug video” of herself doing coke in a hotel room with Sebastian and Ian. I begin to see the video reposted on other blogs. My friends text me to tell me they’ve seen the video linked to on Twitter.

I wait for L. to go to work so I can watch the video while alone in the house. I watch it multiple times, studying Ian’s and Sadie’s interactions for subtle signs that they were fucking. I study Sadie’s and Sebastian’s interactions for any signs that they are fucking.

I masturbate while crying while watching the video while L. is at work and E. is at school. I cry while alone in my bathroom thinking of Ian and Sadie doing cocaine and fucking.

I masturbate while watching Ian’s face while he watches Sadie snort a line off of Sebastian’s stomach. I masturbate while watching Ian adjust his cock while watching Sadie snort a line bent over a toilet lid. I masturbate while watching Sebastian snort a line off Ian’s ass. I come, crying, while watching Ian snort a line of cocaine off a plant frond.




Elizabeth Ellen is author of the novel Person/a and the story collection Fast Machine, both from Short Flight/Long Drive books. Later this year she will publish a new story collection Saul Stories and a poetry collection Elizabeth Ellen, also from SF/LD.