I don’t remember meeting Garrett in the Cougareat when Dominic introduced us, because Dominic was the boy who stood out. On his head was something between a beret and a fez, which made him look urban, and his city was a city somewhere further east of Colorado.
        But Garrett turned up later. And it turns out Dominic had never introduced us at all, just let Garrett stand there grinning, and Garrett was still quietly bummed about it, and about how Dominic was so much of the time.

        Like Dominic, I stood out, and I was always getting letters from central campus offices telling me I was standing out.  My letters weren’t letters of warning.  They were action letters, meaning they wanted action from me.

        I had to call and make appointments.  I had to discuss the ways in which I stood out. 

        I had to keep it toned down.

        I was trying.  Not just for their sake but for mine. 

        Because my hair was large and difficult to comb. 

        Then there was the sex, which I was not having. 

        This was not a problem.  It was exactly the sex we kids on campus weren’t supposed to have.

        But my fellow students had been in the long habit of simulating having it, which was a secret but known.

        And I thought this is something that I should have, too—that experience, some of that should belong to me.

        So one night, after the Family Home Evening group had diminished into individual bodies making their way back to their contracted apartments, I really worked on my hair, like really worked on it.       
        I sat down with a brush and my roommates, who really were great girls and all had come to me fortuitously as if we were all meant to be here together, and they started to brush.  Well, I started it, and then let them take turns.
        We all really worked on it, and it made us even more tightly knit.

        Finally, and it was not that much later, Garrett came over for no reason that either of us could see was good and laid down with me on my plaid student housing couch.  This couch we were on was so severe and unforgiving, that Garrett almost got up again.    And then we fell asleep to David Letterman, who had been complaining on the television that he had just had his hair cut like a duck’s, but he was complaining in a way that meant he really felt good about how things had turned out for him, and his hair, the tufts of it, were actually just fine.  Exactly how he wanted.    
        And even in my half sleep, I was okay with that feeling from the TV.

        And rising from the couch, I realized that already things were really working out for me, and even my hair, even though the upholstery on the couch had done something to it that I won’t discuss, but even this I didn’t mind, and  it was something to show my roommates in the morning.

        But then I remembered:  Garrett had not touched my hair. 
        So I stood bathed liberally in the TV light and took an inventory of myself, touching places outside my cotton sweats, the ones I could remember. Garrett had avoided key parts and worked on others, and these he got to through fabric of my clothing, not under, and this was good, this was how we made it work.  This was the secret being passed around. 
        Because only the skin of our cheeks had touched and our noses, because our noses had to touch. 

        We had held hands.  And this was something:  Garrett had drifted off to sleep holding it. 

        The next day, of course, Garrett was gone and I awoke feeling unviolated and full of grace, like how an animal might feel.   Or a forest.     
        And because it was Saturday, for all three roommates, I made toast, and I poured around juices.  And I made it as a sacrament to them.
        And then I went for a run.
        At church on Sunday, I did not flinch when someone kicked the back of my chair.
        On Monday, in the Cougareat, Dominic pointed a spork at me and told me to “stay away from Dominic.  I meant Garrett,” he said, but remained poised, like there were cameras.
        “He does not feel like himself,” Dominic said.  He lowered the spork and sipped gently from a large waxed cup, one that could only have come from off campus. 
        I was confused and I did not know if I had a right to be confused.  After all, Dominic had come from so far away.  It was like he was beamed in, like a celebrity is beamed into our lives.  Like David Letterman, which is what I was thinking of.  I had to hope that this was the caffeine talking, his not mine, for I was only drinking water from a campus cup.
        Then weeks later, Garrett and I went in the Provo Temple to get married, which was the same day Dominic entered the Missionary Training Center.  Dominic was going to Italy, which is what he had always wanted to happen.
        And things usually did not turn out this way, going where you wanted to go, although, it was true, things were turning out for me. 
        I got up early and brushed my hair.  My roommates and I, we all got together and tamped it down.
        Then Garrett came over and we rode our bikes.
        We wanted it to be hard to get there together, and it was.
        Then Garrett locked our bikes with one lock and told me that Dominic was the good one, not him, and that he had forgiven him for everything.  When he hung his head, his hair fell over his face, and it was in a good way. 
        It was still day, and the Temple had not been turned on, so we could not see it lit from within right then like it had a radiant spirit.  So I turned away from it and looked out over Utah Valley, but mostly I just looked at Provo, and really just at BYU, which had suddenly gotten so famous, its colors brick red and green like an old fashioned Christmas, and we went inside the Temple that no one liked, it having been built up in the decade that had been unkind to architecture.
        We assembled in the sealing room to be sealed, which is our secret word for married.
        But Garrett couldn’t go through with it, our near summer elopement, and slunk out in his Temple gear, leaving me staring at myself and my hair, alone in the mirror, and refracted, due to the legendary effect of mirrors installed in parallel fashion—mirror exactly facing mirror—which was me forever alone with myself. 
        It could have been the bike ride.  It had not been easy getting up the hill.  I had not slowed down for Garrett.  I should have looked back. 
        Now there was nowhere else to go but the mall.  The roommates of mine who were allowed to see a sealing, ushered me out, their arms crossed at my back like folk dancers. 
        Garrett’s bike was gone.  But he had relocked up mine—alone—I could not help but think.  The gift of his best lock was generous.  Its key, he placed on the seat.  Blades of grass were askew.  Maybe these were messages, too.
        My roommates lifted my bike like an injured body into the trunk.
        Then they let me seat myself.
        From the back, I said, “I took out my endowments for this?”  It was a joke and it got them.  It got us all laughing.  At the mall, we saw some missionaries lolling around with large plastic cups, but not Dominic.  Dominic we heard later was being very Catholic in his missionary training.  For example, he never left.  He was monastic and stoic and refused all gifts.
        The next Sunday, I had a chat with my bishop.
        My bishop, who I had last seen in the sealing room in a white bow tie, who had given me a supportive thumb’s up, but had mouthed something I couldn’t make out, was telling it again to me now.  With a voice.
        “Go on a mission,” he said.
        “No,” I said. 

The bishop sighed deeply. 

He and I would just have to sit around and wait.

No one had seen Garrett.  He was not in the still empty Springville house that he had rented for us.  He was not in his classes.  He was absent from his ASBYU meetings.  His strident and forthright “letter to the editor,” appeared in The Universe and people wanted to give him a person-to-person response and could not.

He was not at church.

And there was no music column from him in the daring off-campus Student Review.

Weeks passed.  I participated in a service project and for the first time, felt good about myself, and one night when my roommates and I were doing our weekly job break-down planning meeting—which I always enjoyed—the news came that Garrett had gone to Italy.  In fact, he had left on our wedding day. 

But when he got there, he did not know where to find Dominic, and incongruously checked sidewalk cafes, and when he did find him, he found that Dominic had forgotten his English, and was going by Donald, although that was beside the point, as everyone knew that Elders knew each other by “Elder” and whatever the hell their last names were.
What we found out was that Garrett had used some Spanish to find Donald.  We leaned in, waiting for more, but there wasn’t anymore, not tonight.

I fell asleep on the couch.  I was still renting it.  I belonged here.  The roommate my roommates had scrambled to get to replace me had to go.

Through letters that Garrett had sent to someone in our Family Home Evening group, (a scenario so close, it startled me), I learned that Donald was still devout but yearned to drink espresso, and had learned to inhale it especially well.

The next letter bored me.  Garrett had run into Donald in the airport in Milan, and Garrett had almost missed him in Italy entirely.  For Donald was going home, back east, wherever that was for him.   There had been a shaving injury, self-inflicted but not on purpose.  Of course, I thought of the spork.  I had not trusted him with it.  It stopped me.  It made me forget myself.  The cut from the injury had become infected and then, because of Donald’s devotion, ignored. 

And then this was the good part, but the part that not all of my roommates wanted to hear.  Garrett had removed his garments in a hotel.  He thought of burning them, but instead just left them in a trash can.  He considered graduate school.  Maybe after awhile, he’d get an MFA.  Or just travel like he was doing now.  He never realized how much he would love it. 

And someday he could use all of this:  the flight from Salt Lake, the cat he’d let escape,  the emptiness of Provo.  I pretended he could use me, too.

Because I did not know the person whose voice was being channeled through the guy in my complex reading these letters.  The Garrett I had thought I had was not this. 

Even so, I missed his touch. 

Julie Turley is an adjunct reference and instruction librarian at Borough of Manhattan Community College, and has published esoteric short fiction in little literary journals such as the North American Review and Western Humanities Review. Her chapter on literary fiction in libraries is forthcoming in the The Reader-Centered Library published by Libraries Unlimited. She lives with her family in the lower east side of Manhattan, but discusses literature born out of the Utah experience at  


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