Some people are prolific with Xs. Some use a single X, some several small xxxs. Some of them put a number of xs before their names, which are sometimes initials, so that there are more xs than anything else. Some of them put the xs after their names, which are longer than the xs: these people are more likely to use a single x. Some of the xs are unexpected, like the single x from someone who flirted with me, but who withdrew his attentions so that the persistent x seemed insincere, impertinent. Some of them are from people who use too many xxxxxs and oblige me to use too many in return. Most are from friends. Few are from lovers, who tend to drop the xs when they are interested, resume them when they are serious, then drop them again when they no longer feel involved. Only one is from a person whose name is x, who I slept with once, and who decided not to see me again, which is confusing as I no longer know whether the x is his initial or a term of endearment.

Story excerpted from Fractals, by Joanna Walsh, 2014, Galley Beggar Press

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