I didn’t want to snoop through my college roommate’s personal belongings, but her mother insisted. While I stayed at school to work through the summer, Marni had hightailed it home because of health issues. She didn’t tell me what was wrong, but it seemed serious. As she grew sicker, her mother grew more desperate to help her. Hence, the call that would change my life forever.
She instructed me to go inside Marni’s closet and find a shoebox on the top shelf behind her sweaters, where I would find an old prescription one of the doctors at the school health center had written her. Apparently, whatever it was worked and her mother needed to know the name of the medication. I did what I was asked.
Inside the box, I found Marni’s most treasured keepsakes: pictures, tokens, jewelry and letters. There were a lot of letters. I recognized the handwriting immediately. They were from my boyfriend. The two were close friends, so it didn’t surprise me. I skimmed past them and found the old prescription. I couldn’t pronounce the medication so I spelled it out for Marnie’s mom and we said our goodbyes.
That night, I laid awake in bed thinking about the letters that I had unwittingly discovered. The pull, desire and incessant need to read them was overwhelming. I was one of those people, though, who vehemently believed and respected other people’s privacy, so I held back on the temptation. My boyfriend, “Mark” (I changed his name, but if he reads this, you know who you are,) was home for the summer, too. I called him the next morning.
He seemed normal: loving, attentive, doting even. I adored him so much and knew we would be married someday. I hung up the phone, sighed my troubles away and headed for the student library. The thing is, I couldn’t read, hold a thought or concentrate. My entire focus was on that shoebox in Marni’s closet, behind her sweaters. I packed up my books and headed for my empty apartment.
Editor: Matthew Auerbach