Why does the doorbell always interrupt important work?

I hit PAUSE and tossed the game controller on the coffee table. As I paced to the door, I mumbled to myself, “Better not be some salesman.”

I opened the door, revealing a slender brunette. My face broke into a grin. “Trish! How you doing?”

“Good.” Her smile matched mine. She held up a couple bottles of wine and a notebook. “I took a chance you’d be home and figured you might need a lesson in humility in Call of Duty.”

“I can’t say no to that. C’mon in.”

A word or two about Patricia Bettenfield. We’ve known each other since grade school and been friends forever. It never manifested as anything romantic. We tried to date once in high school and agreed it felt weird. When we kissed, we both felt like we were kissing a sibling. So we fell back to being good friends. Best friends. Even though we went to different colleges, we both returned the same stretch of suburbia outside Atlanta in which we’d grown up. She went to work as a CPA, me as a project manager for a local engineering company and with both of us twenty-five years old, we were just living and loving life.

We’d hang out once or twice a week. That fact would worry prospective boyfriends and girlfriends until they saw us together and realized we were, in fact, only good friends. I know people say men and women have a hard time being “just friends” and generally I agree but there are exceptions to every rule. It was even to the point where she’d strip down to her bra and underwear and me to my boxers if we needed to change in front of each other. It never felt awkward.

Another word about Trish. She’s attractive. Not in a supermodel sense, but in the all-American-girl-next-door way. She’s about five-six, with wavy brown hair that falls past her shoulders and brown eyes. A cute, dimpled smile. Because she is a workout nut, she has a trim, athletic figure, killer legs, and a tight ass. She’s not the biggest up top, but her breasts are firm. 34B. I only know that because she whipped a bra at me one night while we were teasing each other and I checked.

I mean, yes, I am male. I’ve had lingering thoughts about what it would be like to sleep with Trish, but that’s all it’s been. I’ve never made a move or even been really tempted. It sounds cliched but I value our friendship. She’s stood by me through thick and thin, and I wouldn’t endanger that. Some people have said we’d be lost without each other and there is some truth there.

Besides, it’s not like I am celibate or hurting for female company. I go through girlfriends off and on, and get laid often enough. Trish is a good reality check on which girls are worth my time. I try to do the same for her. She’s not a slut but not a prude either. I know she’s slept with some of her boyfriends, though because of her religious upbringing, she was never comfortable discussing either of our sex lives in great detail.

Anyway, she popped in unannounced, like she does sometimes. Usually we’ll chatter and watch a movie, or play some Playstation, or something. She likes gaming and sports, so it’s always easy to do something together. We played for about an hour, working our way through one bottle. Okay, she had one glass, I had most of one bottle.

“Ha!” she crowed. “I just fragged your sorry butt!”

“Lucky shot.”

“Yeah, sure, sure.” Her smile faded.

I noticed and said, “You okay?”

“Yeah. Justin, can we talk for a second?”

I put my controller down. “Of course. What’s up?”

“You know me and Aaron broke up, right?”

I nodded, though I didn’t say anything. Aaron was a former high school classmate who became a Georgia Tech quarterback. Aaron was so sure he was going to get picked up early during the NFL draft that he hadn’t finished school. He not only didn’t get drafted, his showing at the following year’s combine was so bad, he couldn’t even make a practice squad. He’d staked so much of his prestige on making the pros, he’d kind of become a prick when he hadn’t.

“We only went out a few times and he kept trying to get me into bed. I wasn’t ready so, I kept putting him off. I guess he didn’t want to take no for an answer.” Trish lowered her eyes.

“What happened, Trish?”

“We were at his place when he made a move. He threw me on the bed and tried to get my shirt off. I screamed and he smacked me. Not bad, but enough to bloody my lip. I head-butted him in the face. When he let me go, I jumped up and ran out. He didn’t chase me but he screamed names after me. When I saw him yesterday, he ignored me.”

“That motherfucker.” Aaron had six inches and fifty pounds on me but at that second, I was ready to drive over and kick his ass. I started to stand up. “I’m gonna—”

Trish grabbed my arm. “No, Justin, don’t. He’s not worth it.”


“He’s history, man. C’mon, you know I can handle myself. I’m not falling to pieces because one jerk got aggressive. I didn’t even call the cops. Besides, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about.”

She patted the seat and smiled. Reluctantly, I sat back down.

She took a deep breath and I could see that she was really nervous. “Justin, I …”

“Trish, what it is? It’s me, you can tell me anything.”

“This is really tough, Justin. I spent an hour working up the nerve to come over here and do this and I still can’t. Look, it’s probably best if I just give you this.”

She opened the notebook she’d brought in and pulled out what looked like a standard ten by thirteen manila envelope, except that it was all black. She handed it to me and I took it, uncomprehending. When I looked back up, I was shocked to see her eyes brimming with tears.


“Justin, you know that I value our friendship more than anything, right?”


“We’ve been friends our whole lives and I am terrified to give you this, since this might damage us permanently. But I’m going out of my mind and I can’t see any other way forward.”

“I don’t understand.”

She pointed at the envelope. “Just wait until I am gone and open that. Read it thoroughly. I hope you will understand and I pray to God this won’t affect us, no matter what. Can you promise me you will think very hard before you do anything, Justin? Please?”

“I promise, but Trish … what is this all about?”

Trish stood. “All the answers are there. I’m gonna go. Remember, Justin. You’re my best friend, no matter what.”

“Don’t forget your other bottle of wine.”

“You might need it.”

I didn’t know what else to say. “Are we still on for tennis Saturday?”

“I hope so.”

She gave me a quick kiss on the cheek and left the room. A second later, I heard the front door of the townhouse. I went to the door in time to see her get in her car and drive away. I locked the door and returned to the couch. The mysterious black envelope lay there.

I grabbed my pocket knife, slit the top, and dumped the contents. A handful of smaller black envelopes tumbled out. Six of them were about four by six—the kind that invitations to events come in—and were pre-addressed to Trish’s house with my address in the return address, already stamped. The last was a standard business letter size and was labeled: “Justin—Open Me.”

I tore it open. There were several typed pages inside. I unfolded and started reading.

* * * * * * *

Dear Justin,

I still cannot believe I am writing this to you. I have gone through this letter at least twenty times trying to get it right. I have also wavered back and forth again and again on whether or not to give it to you at all—not the least because I am afraid this will break our friendship and you will never think of me the same way again. I hope against hope that isn’t the case. But if you are reading this, it means I took the chance and it is all up to fate.

I told you about Aaron by now. I meant it when I said it wasn’t a big deal.

* * * * * * *

I chuckled a bit, since she hadn’t used those exact words but she could hardly know that when she wrote the letter. I continued.

* * * * * * *

It really wasn’t. He was grabby so I kicked him to the curb. I think he’s lucky I didn’t break his nose. Trust me, if he had pushed any harder, I would have castrated him on the spot. But there was something else. When he flung me on the bed and tore my shirt, I was scared and I was furious. I was also incredibly turned on.

Not because of Aaron, he’s a pig, but by the situation itself. You know how strict my folks were and how much they lectured me about extramarital sex and drilled into my head that sex was dirty. Consequently, I have been pretty uptight about sex since I was young. I have slept with some guys and enjoyed it, at least a little. You knew that. But you may not know that I always had shame and guilt over it. Every time.

* * * * * * *

I didn’t know that but it made sense. Despite our long-term friendship, her Bible-thumping parents didn’t even like Trish and me to be alone in the same room with the door closed. They said it was “inappropriate for an unmarried couple.” It also meant that as open as she was and as non-judgmental as I tried to be, she had a hard time discussing sex, even with me.

* * * * * * *

When Aaron took control, it was like someone opened a door and revealed a truth. I saw that if I wasn’t in control, I wouldn’t feel responsible for anything that happened. If I wasn’t responsible, I wouldn’t feel any guilt. If I don’t feel any guilt, I am free to let loose and really enjoy sex in a way I never have before. I know, it sounds screwed up. I thought I was pretty messed up in the head but I’ve done some reading online and haunted some psychology forums. It turns out these feelings aren’t that uncommon among women who have a pretty specific set of fantasies.

After I drove home from Aaron that night, I got in the shower and masturbated. God, I am blushing just writing this, knowing you will read it. I had the biggest orgasm I have ever had in my life. It was so good I slumped down in the shower and sat there for five minutes. Since then, it has been on my mind constantly.

Even though writing the above made me blush, I am not sure why, when what I am about to say is so much worse. Justin, you are my oldest and dearest friend. I treasure our friendship above any other I have and like I said, I fear this will hurt us, but I have to do this. I have to get it out or I am going to go crazy.

Justin, I want to be raped.

* * * * * * *

My blood ran cold. “What … what the fucking fuck?”

I sat back in the couch. It couldn’t be. This was Trish. The girl who used to sit in front of me in Mrs. Lartner’s second grade class and swing her pigtails at me to make me laugh. This was my friend. Was she having some kind of breakdown? Was she sick? And if not, how could she think that?

I didn’t want to read any more. I set the letter aside, uncorked the second bottle of wine, and took a swig straight from the bottle. I waited, then took another.

A joke, I thought. I can keep reading and I will get to the punch line. No, she needs some counseling, some mental help.

I glanced at the pages. But what if she’s serious?

The problem with someone opening Pandora’s Box is that the mind refuses to accept that the box is still half full. It has to get to the bottom to see if there is anything else hiding down there.

I tried to ignore the letter. I tried to play Call of Duty again. I got up and paced.

Nothing worked.

“Damn it.” I sat down, picked up Trish’s letter, and resumed reading.

* * * * * * *

That’s not quite right. I don’t want some random person to attack me and put me in the hospital or get me pregnant or give me a disease or something like that.

I want something more regulated. I want a simulation but I want it to be as realistic as possible. I want to have the control taken from me.

* * * * * * *

I breathed a little easier. When she put it like that, it sounded less drastic.

* * * * * * *

Of course, it is very difficult to find someone who understands this. A woman says, “I want to be raped,” and idiot guys start lining up around the block. This isn’t something casual. It takes an incredible amount of trust and faith for a woman to want to surrender herself like this. I’ve dated—what, fifteen or twenty guys since high school? I slept with less than half of them. None of them lasted more than six months and I wouldn’t place enough trust in a single one of them for this. Not now, not ever.

Which brings us to you.

* * * * * * *

If my blood ran cold before, it was positively arctic now. I wanted to hurl the pages aside but I couldn’t.

* * * * * * *

Justin, I know we’ve never professed any kind of romantic love. We’ve always been like a brother and sister, at least in how we get along. We’ve said so for years, and both agreed. But we’re not brother and sister. We’re friends. And my friend, I trust you more than anyone else on this planet. I know that if I place myself in your hands, you will never hurt me—at least, not in any serious way.

I know this is a lot to take in—

* * * * * * *

“No fucking shit.”

* * * * * * *

—but Justin, this is something I really want to try. I read about women who acted on these fantasies and as long as the simulation remains on the rails, so to speak, they find it very fulfilling. If I am to try this, I want it to be with you. I want you to … you know.

* * * * * * *

“God, she can’t even say it,” I laughed. I had to laugh or I’d freak out. The entire notion was so unreal.

* * * * * * *

Also, Justin, I want you to understand this: I will never speak of this face to face. It is simply too embarrassing and humiliating for me to do so. I already fear you will consider me the worst kind of slut for even thinking of this but I can’t take it any more. I have to do something. So I had to write it down. I will never discuss this with you. If you bring it up, I will change the subject or leave. All of our communication on the issue will be written.

In the big envelope are six smaller envelopes, aside from this letter. Five of them have a blank note card inside. If you have questions or comments, please write them on a note card and mail it to me. I will mail a response back. If you send all five, I will send you more cards, so don’t save them if you have questions.

The sixth also has a note card in it. It has two lines with checkboxes. One is marked, “I’m In.” The other is marked, “I’m Out.” Please decide which you want to check. I already said I want you to do it but I will, of course, respect your choice.

Take as much time as you want. Take a few days. Take six months. Until you do, nothing will change. I still want to spend as much time with you as we have. You are still my best friend. I still want to go watch football and have a beer and throw darts at O’Malley’s. I still want to beat you in Playstation. I still want to go to the movies and hang out with our other friends and occasionally go shopping and hiking and all the other stuff we do. Please say we can. It won’t be too weird, I promise. I will never act different than we have ever acted before.

If you don’t ever decide, or if you send back the card marked, “I’m Out,” I will never bring this up again. I certainly won’t ask you to reconsider, since once I leave this letter with you, I will probably go home and cry myself to sleep because I am so scared and nervous about what you will think of me. Ironically, if I asked this of some asshole, I would not care what he thought of me. But you’re the only one I trust enough to even consider it. I will continue to treasure our friendship. I will still be your buddy. Nothing has to change. I dearly hope you feel the same. If you decide not to do it, chalk it up to temporary insanity on my part. I’m still the same girl you always thought I was.

If you send back the card and mark, “I’m In,” I will send you a proposal as to how we will go about it.

Justin, I don’t think I should say anymore. Ball is in your court now. Whatever you choose, know that I am your friend forever.



* * * * * * *

“Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ.”

I had no idea what to do, so I did what most people in a fucked-up, impossible situation would do.

I got drunk.

The morning alarm clock was unforgiving but I dragged my ass to work. My coworkers gave me a hard time about my obvious hangover and my boss gave me the stinkeye but I scarcely paid any attention. My mind was fixed on Trish and the nuclear bomb she dropped.

I couldn’t talk to any of the idiots at work. They’d simply slap me on the back, tell me I’d hit the jackpot, and to break one off for them. I couldn’t talk to any of my friends. Most of them were her friends too and I wouldn’t want to color their perceptions of her.

Really, I knew I could never tell anyone else about this. I would take it to my grave because to let even one person know would betray Trish’s confidence. It was so unstated that she hadn’t even asked me not to tell anyone; she knew I wouldn’t.

I staggered through that day from hell. On one hand, I was glad it was Friday, so I wouldn’t have work distracting me for a day or two. On the other hand, the next day was Saturday and Trish and me had arranged to play some mixed-doubles tennis the next day with friends.

But could I face her?

I brooded about it over a beer and reheated leftovers. Why had she done this? What the hell was wrong with her? Did she need some professional help? Did I even want to remain friends with her?

That thought shook me and caused not a little shame. What was I thinking? This was Trish, my oldest and dearest friend.

I thought about my own sex life and the women I’d bedded. How would I feel if I had never been fulfilled doing it? What if every time I got laid, I felt doubt and shame. It would make sex miserable and I would really wonder if something was wrong with me. And I want to dump my best friend because she admitted that’s how she felt?

No, my brain said, because she wanted you to fix it.

I waved my hands, cutting off the internal dialogue. I wouldn’t abandon Trish. I was a long way from agreeing with her but she was my friend and that wouldn’t change.

I picked up my phone and shot her a text:

Still on for tennis tmrw @ 10?

Her response was instant:

U bet, c u there! 🙂

I exhaled hard. The exchange was exactly like any of thousands we’d had over the years, right down to her use of abbreviations and the same smiling emoji she put at the end of every single message she sent me. When I’d asked her about it, she’d said talking to me made her happy. I went to bed feeling a little more optimistic.

Trish was already at the court when I got there. Fortunately, so were our opponents, so we didn’t have a ton of time for chit-chat.

She bounced up to me as I entered the court. “Hey, you. Ready to beat these losers?”

“I heard that!” said Marty from across the net.

“Yep, ready,” I said. “You feeling all right?”

She didn’t hesitate. She smiled, her cheeks dimpling. “Just fine.”

We lost the match to our friends Marty and his wife Jan, but they were better than us anyway. The fun part was the good-natured banter between Trish and I, and between us and the other couple. I kept watching for odd signs but nothing was different from our normal interactions. I watched to see if Trish did any kind of flirting or bent over more in front of me or anything like that but she never did.