“To Aria” By: Catherine Plath

To Aria:

First off, before I begin anything, I want to apologize for my handwriting. I’m currently writing this in the back of a dangerously fast cab. We’re cutting everyone off and breaking every speeding law in order to try to catch your flight. Every single time I try to write anything, the car jerks and throws my hand all over the paper. (I had to pay the taxi driver an extra $200 to cover any possible tickets he’d get from this ride, and I can see he’s going to use every penny.)

In less than thirty minutes from now, I’ll hand you this wrinkly paper covered with scribbles. With that, with this simple piece of paper, your opinion about me will drastically change forever.

Where to start? I guess the best place is our beginning. I actually don’t remember our very first interaction together, but you claim you do. You were discussing laundry duty with your roommate Sarah, and I, being me, interrupted to talk to her. You tease me all the time about how you couldn’t stop thinking, “Why can’t this girl shut up?” I have to admit I don’t I remember this at all, but it sure sounds like something I’d do.

This brief encounter explains why you looked so familiar when I found you sitting in the quad. It was still pretty early in the morning, and fresh rays of sunlight danced on you as you sat under an old oak tree, diligently working on something. As you feverishly scribbled on a notebook, you hunched your back into an inhumane angle. You had whipped your blonde hair into a messy bun, although two rebellious strands inched towards your face. You couldn’t stop to fix them, though- you were too busy writing.

I don’t have common social sense. You tease me about that all the time, too. When most people see someone diligently working, they leave so that person can continue. The curious, nosy oddballs, like me, decided they must know what someone could be so passionately absorbed in and decide to interrupt to find out.

You didn’t notice me walk up to you, even though it was fall and my new brown leather boots made an awful racket crunching on the leaves. Your nose remained pressed to the page, with your hand flying this and that way. I stood, three inches from you, and asked, “What’s that?”

Your face was priceless. It twisted in equal parts annoyance, hatred, and confusion.


“What are you working so hard on?” I asked, sitting down next to you. I had the audacity to just plop myself next to a stranger who didn’t want to be with me, but as you know, I have very poor social sense.

“My homework,” you answered, still befuddled.

I had the guts to snatch your notebook right from your hands to personally inspect it. After only a few seconds of staring at your work, I noticed you had a very distinct handwriting – very angular and geometric.

“What class?”

“Engineering,” you answered.


“Junior,” you say.

Pointing to myself, I add, “Sophomore,” even though you didn’t ask. I handed you back your notebook. “What’s your name?”

“Aria.” (But you knew that.)

“Hannah.” (But you knew that, too.)

I’m pretty sure you begged me twenty times to leave you be, but I kept asking questions, some relevant and some not. I told you the barebones about myself- I was debating what to major in (still!), I liked cats over dogs, tea over coffee, and I had two siblings.

You didn’t tell me much about yourself, actually, now that I think of it. I still feel like I know all about you- your desires, your hopes, your being- but so little about the details and facts. What’s your favorite restaurant? What’s your mother’s middle name? What’s your favorite song?

We talked for an hour. It was an hour too long for you, because you obviously had a lot of work to do. I think you enjoyed it, though (I like to think so). I was so proud that I managed to get you, the most serious person I ever met, to laugh.

I love your laugh. Your lips curve upwards and for once in your life you completely let loose. Your little, skinny body quivers- vibrates more like it, shaking back and forth in joy.

The next time I saw you, we were at a party. Both of us were outgoing and blunt, but only in a small, safe, reassuring social atmosphere. This party was anything but that. There were so many people crammed into that ratty dorm room that you couldn’t move without violating someone.

I found you in the corner, sipping on a beer. You were pretty wasted, I’m not going to lie; you were smashed out of your mind.

Can I say I love seeing you drunk without sounding like a rapist? You let loose. You finally relax. The tight, wound muscles in your shoulders ease, and you laugh more. You know that I love to listen to you laugh. If you forget, re-read the paragraph three up.

“Aria, right?” Despite our close distance, I have to scream at you, because someone is blasting my ears off with the latest dubstep track. I push a drunken couple foundling each other out of my way and step closer to you. Your hair was out of a bun (I’d never seen that before!) and flowing from your head in soft, bouncy, natural curls.

“Yeah,” you slur. “Hannah?”

“Yup,” I say. “Your hair looks nice down, by the way.”

You grab a strand of your blonde hair and hold it in front of your face to analyze.

“Really? I haven’t washed it in forever.” (Another thing about you- you never accept compliments, no matter how true they are.)

I squeeze in next to you, so I could talk to you. And that we did. For hours. I mean it, hours. We passed out talking and slept the night curled up next to each other like two old cats.

Two weeks later, our roles switched. Now, I was the studious one and you were the distractor. As I was quietly walking along to class, a hand abruptly grabbed my elbow, stopping me dead in my tracks.

“Hannah, your last name is Hoffman, isn’t it?” you questioned intently. Before I could answer, you began to search through your bag. Next thing I knew, the school literary magazine was pressed against my nose. “This is you, isn’t it?”

I grazed my eyes over a short story I had submitted. “Oh,” I said, shocked. Who actually read the school literary magazine besides those who wrote it? “Yup, that’s me. How’d you find it?”

“I read it,” you tease. “You’ve got talent, Hannah. This-” You waved that flimsy book in my face yet again. “was good. Really good.”

And you were off as unexpectedly and quickly as you came. You left me stunned, standing in the middle of the hallway, until the school bell rang and sent me back on my way.

I want to point out that at the time, I thought nothing of this magnet-like attraction I had for you. I didn’t associate it with anything sexual or romantic. I just felt that I need you and you, if you knew it or not, needed me. I explained everything I felt for you- the admiration, the fascination, even the jitters in my stomach when you brushed my elbow- by believing that destiny was simply trying to convince me fate chose you to be my platonic best friend.

Late in October, I had my first dream about you. It was romantic. You wouldn’t believe my surprise as I opened my eyes and realized I had dreamt about a woman that way.

I never believed I was anything but straight. Sure, I never felt anything towards men, but I assumed I simply hadn’t meet “the one” yet. I never even guessed I could feel anything towards a woman, until I had that dream about you.

I fell into disbelief. I ignored that dream as best I could. When I couldn’t ignore it enough, I made up outrageous explanations. Once, I blamed it on over-sugary cereals. (Didn’t you know Lucky Charms causes lesbian fantasies? Read the warning on the label.)

Well, we spent almost every waking moment together that we could after that party, because a higher power really did want us to become best friends. When you are best friends, you learn everything about that other person. This is how I learned you were homophobic.

We were flipping channels, when Ellen happened to be on. Curled up in blankets and drinking hot cocoa (it was December by then, and it was a particularly chilly winter), we laughed as we watched Ellen prank her intern.

“She’s the best,” I giggle.

“She’s pretty good,” you shrug. Your eyebrows raise as you add, “But definitely not the best.”

“Oh, c’mon, everyone loves Ellen. She’s perfect.”

“If she wasn’t… well, you know what I’m saying, she’d be bearable.”

“What are you talking about?”

“She’s a… how do I say this… lady licker?”

I still remember the way you said that. Lady licker. Like you couldn’t bear to say lesbian, so you had to make up some outrageous phrase.

The sad part was I was in love with you too far to save myself. Too far in to use common sense and stop the pain that will come once you read this letter. But you have to know. You have to.

I couldn’t just let you fly to your new job halfway across the country (which I’m so proud of you for getting, no matter how you feel after this letter) without letting you know that I have hopelessly loved you for the past two years. It just felt wrong and incomplete, you know? Like a story with no ending. You said I’m good at writing stories, so I’m trying to finish my own.

My God, I feel like I’m not even speaking English. I wish I had the courage to do this in person, on the phone, or through email- anything interactive. I really hope I address any questions you have in this letter, because after this, I think we should never see each other again.

Maybe I’m being slightly ridiculous or childish for wanting to completely part ways. Maybe I’m even being a bit of both. I must be somewhat out of my mind to willingly throw away two years of the best friendship I’ve ever experienced because I’m making, as you say, “a sinful choice.” But I love you. If this isn’t how a man feels when he loves a woman and vice versa, then I’m sorry for them. When I ignore the hatred you have towards the idea of us, I feel like the happiest person in the planet, because I love you.

Jesus, ignore the wet spots on the page. I can’t lie to you and say it’s my drink or something. We respect each other too much for that (at least we did, and I hope we still do). I’m crying, okay?

I’m crying because life screwed me over. My first love, my first love at all, the love that made me feel something for the first time ever, the love that revealed my sexuality, was to someone who believes my love for her is from the devil.

I love you. I love you. I love you. Damn it, I love you.

I wish it was a choice like you believe. I want to stop loving you. I want to so badly it hurts. But I can’t. I can’t get you out of my system.

The cab is pulling up to the airport now. If things went according to plan, I caught you, threw this at you, and ran. I don’t want you to try to contact me, unless a miracle happens and you say, “I feel the same way.” Otherwise, it will hurt too much.

Just know I love you.

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