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The Notebooks
by Adam Graupe

Dear Kit:

Got your note and in answer to your question, I can’t remember my first girlfriend’s last name. Her first name was Penny, and I will tell you that at the time she was everything to me. I thought she was my soul mate, but it was her notebooks that made me stop loving her. The notebooks, you ask. Well, let me tell you…

Penny had just left for her shift at the factory, and I searched for paper to write something down. I dug through her kitchen drawers and came across a stack of notebooks. I grabbed the top notebook intending to tear out a blank page, but instead I found the notebook crammed with her neat childlike handwriting. It contained all the things Penny wanted in life. I still remember the first lines:

       1.    To have perfect teeth
       2.    To have a perfect smile
       3.    To have no cavities
       4.    To have perfect hair
       5.    To have a nice car
       6.    To have a nice stereo in car
       7.    To have a Bose speakers in car
       8.    To have a swimming pool
       9.    To have a diving board for swimming pool

This went on for the entire notebook. I paged through it: she would haphazardly change from one want to another and would elaborate that desire for a few lines then switch to an entirely different series of wants. Thousands of lines filled the two hundred-page notebook. I felt dizzy and sick. When I met Penny, she told me she wasn’t materialistic. “She’s just a little immature,” I thought after looking at the notebook. Then I noticed the second notebook. It was titled: “What I expect for my first child.” The first lines ran:

       1.    To have a child with perfect teeth
       2.    To have a child with a perfect smile
       3.    To have a child with no cavities

I set that notebook aside and noticed the third and forth. The third was, “What I expect for my second child.” The forth, “What I expect from my husband.” My left eye started to twitch. Her forth notebook read:

       1.    To have husband with perfect teeth
       2.    To have a husband with a perfect smile
       3.    To have a husband with no cavities

I read enough. I dry heaved and began a list of my own for Penny to “discover”:

       1.    To have a girlfriend who isn’t materialistic
       2.    To have a girlfriend who won’t have written expectations for me
       3.    To have a girlfriend who isn’t promiscuous

My list went on for a page but I thought the better of it and tore it up. Anyway, the relationship soon ended when she met a more ambitious and promising career man. I think he was a janitor, and she left me for him.

Its twenty years later but I don’t think a month has passed without recalling those notebooks. My first short story was about a man who kept writing in notebooks in a similar fashion, and whatever he wrote down came true, but, of course, there was a “catch.” Isn’t there always a catch?

Goodbye for now, Kit, and tell me about your first boyfriend in your next letter.