Dear Suzanne
by Ashblonde

Annalise skipped out of her editor’s office, beaming about her new column at the Mount Hampton Herald, her North Carolinian private college’s newspaper. Over the summer months, she interned at her hometown newspaper in Ohio, shuffling papers and getting coffee. During those humid, monotonous days, she dreamed up an idea and put it together in a proposal:

“Annalise Jonsson as ‘Dear Suzanne,’ an advice column for college students. Suzanne can help you sort out your problems with academics, work, friends and, of course, romance.”

In her proposal, she created a series of faux letters containing modern problems, and gave answers that included a dose of thoughtfulness, a pinch of responsibility and a sprinkle of southern humor. She fine-tuned the proposal throughout the summer and on her first day back at school, submitted the idea to her editor, Professor Decker, for consideration.

“If you want this to work, Annalise, you’ll have to keep Suzanne a complete secret. Tell no one. No one on the staff, not your family, not even your closest friends,” she warned her eager student.

“I am great at keeping secrets, no problem, Professor!”

“And, you’ll have to keep doing some regular reporting around here too, so no one grows suspicious of why you hang around the newspaper offices with no assignments,” she also reminded Annalise.

“I can do it, Professor Decker, I know can fit it all in,” she confidently asserted.

“Alright, you’ve done your homework on this, I can see, so I’m giving you a shot, let’s see how it goes.”

Professor Decker and Annalise laid the groundwork, publishing a teaser in the first issue of the year:

“Problems with school, parents, friends? Love-life got you down? Get some advice from Mount Hampton’s smartest Southern Belle, Suzanne.” She had her brother the artist draw her a sketch of a sexy, busty Scarlett O’Hara type to accompany the column. He was a safe bet though, for not spilling the beans, since he was attending art school in San Francisco, unaware of the scope of her secret identity.

Within a couple of days, the first letter than came in:

Dear Suzanne,
I really want to switch majors. My father wants me to stay in Business Administration, but I want to move into English Literature. He’s adamant about it and implied that if I change my major, he’ll stop paying the tuition bill. I can’t afford to go it on my own, so am I stuck with a major and a career, and a life that I’ll hate? Help!

 Wannabe Bard

Dear Bard,
As I see it, you’ve got options, all adults have options. You can A… make your parentals happy and your life a torturous hell on earth, if you want to cower like a nervous dog your whole life… Or B… You can take a stand and take out college loans until your eyeballs turn green… or C… you can do what a successful financier would do and combine hard work with a swindle: go get a double major or a major-minor combination. Daddy will get your ‘report cards,’ see that you’re still taking business classes, and not find out you switched programs until graduation day. Then he’ll be too dang proud to quibble over major-minor semantics.

 Hugs, Darlin,

“This is good,” Professor Decker told Annalise, “it’s helpful, fun advice, but pay close attention to ethics, your options steered him to something less than ethical. But it’s good, keep it up!”

The next week classes started and Suzanne had a few more letters flow into her specially set up email account. The usual stuff, “my boyfriend dumped me at the end of this summer, how do I go on?” and “I want to break up with my boyfriend, how do I do it?” She carefully, yet playfully answered the letters with kindness where warranted and sarcasm where it entertained.

Dear Suzanne,
 I’m a 21 year old female senior who’s recently fallen for an 18-year old freshman. At first the age difference didn’t bother me, but then I started getting hassled by my friends because he’s so young. He’s mature for his age, and kind, and I’ll admit, adorably hot, and it’s not like its illegal (barely!), but I am frustrated that he cannot go out to the bars with me, and that he only talks about high school experiences because he has no college experiences yet. Should I wise up and find a man my own age, or let my buzzing feelings for him continue to dictate the situation?”

 Cradle Robberette

Dear Robberette,
First of all, worrying about what your friends think is a recipe for a life full of messed up relationships. You’ll pursue people that will make others’ happy and not yourself. Get rid of those dandelions and move on to a higher level of thinking about yourself and your relationship.
Second, the tone of your letter indicates that you think you’re being illogical, and you’re not happy with that. Now, since when were relationships about what’s logical? Still, you should pay the closest attention to the mesh factor, beyond the superficial fluff. Do you get along? Share a similar sense of humor? Can you have an stimulating conversation with this person? Do you respect their mind? Let these questions be your guide, not your friends or your drinking habits.

 Hugs, Darlin,

Soon, students were buzzing about the letters, wondering who the writers were, but even more, wondering about the identity of Miss Suzanne. Annalise kept mum on the topic, other than to join in the speculation when appropriate. “Maybe it’s a guy!” she even offered as an idea to her roommate.

Within a couple of weeks, she was receiving praise via email for her advice; people seemed to be reading it, and based on feedback, finding success with it. She actually started to think that if she could handle the world’s problems, she wouldn’t have any of her own.

October rolled around, and Annalise was in a whirlwind schedule, keeping up with classes, working her regular reporting job at the paper and clandestinely moonlighting as Miss Suzanne. She almost didn’t notice until midterm week that a guy in her 11am Philosophy of Human Nature class was utterly mesmerizing to look at.

Anthropology was on her schedule at 10am, right before the philosophy class. Her anthropology professor loved to hear himself talk, and consequently, his lectures always ran painfully long. After a brisk walk across campus to get to her philosophy class, she would still always be last into the room, sitting wherever she could find an open desk, usually near the front. This routine never allowed her to notice who else was in the room.

She dashed in as usual, this time ending up next to a guy who physically embodied what she loved in a man: big and cute. As a matter of fact, she mused after glancing sideways, very big and very cute. The image of his soft sides sent a shiver down her spine, and she could not resist stealing another look. This time, he glanced back, looking almost annoyed. Before she could smile at him, he quickly looked away. “Well, he may be big and cute, but he’s not very friendly,” she thought and sulked silently.

Still, in those few moments, she was able to observe that his eyes were big, in a nice, light shade of milk chocolate. His face was rugged, but still boyishly charming, and his hair was short yet thick with a hint of curl, in a deep espresso shade. He didn’t cover himself up with a baseball hat or five o’clock shadow like so many college guys do, and she appreciated that. But he covered his body too much, she thought. The extra, extra large sweatshirt he wore hinted at the shape of a stunning belly, but the rolling details were still left to her imagination.

As they were leaving class, she followed out behind him, watching his large body move in front of her. “He is beefy,” she laughed inside herself again, wishing she could run up beside him and grab a handful of his bulk, to show them both just exactly how big he was. She had a hard time getting a view of his full body, but there was no denying he possessed a wide back and ample love handles, in the size and shape of love handles that she always appreciated. She would have to get to that class sooner, she resolved. She felt the need to make sure she would sit next to him again.

That evening, Annalise drank too many lattes again, and wound up lying in bed awake. Yet instead of obsessing about a class or a news story, she could only think of the big, cute boy in her Philosophy class. Her mind drifted, wondering, “Why am I interested in fat guys? Why do I find fat so sexy?” Which usually led to her to contemplate how would her friends react to her dating a boy so round? And would her parents say anything about her choice of partners? Not that their opinions would dictate her decisions, she just wondered what she would face.

And then she drifted into her own relationship history, which was devoid of fat, and didn’t have much of any action, for that matter. Boys had always been after Annalise. She was a pretty girl, even back in grade school. In the schoolyard, they clamored to push her swing and pick her for their teams. Her flaxen ponytails, button nose and petite frame developed into a grown-up beauty before she was ready to handle the testosterone-spiked attention that came along with it.

She continually rejected all adolescent affections in favor of immersing herself in schoolwork, the track and tennis teams, and most especially, caring for and riding Buckingham, her 5 year-old horse. She missed Buck during the long weeks at school, but returned home as much as she could to reassure him that he was the only man in her life.

Up until now, her only real relationship had happened when she was still in high school, although he was much older and far more experienced. Craig was a 24 year-old professional soccer player for the Columbus Crew. She met him the summer before her senior year at a 10K charity event in Columbus. They made small talk before the race began, and by the end of the race, he had asked her out on a date.

He was a little too lean for her tastes, and she sometimes even fantasized about him gaining a lot of weight. Still, he was extremely good looking, and she felt great excitement to have the attention of an attractive, magnetic guy in a semi-celebrity profession. She kept their affair a strict secret, so much so that her parents never found out. When he was transferred to the Los Angeles Galaxy, their relationship soon ended and no one was the wiser, least of all Annalise.

It was a couple of months after the break up before she stopped feeling sorry for herself. She quickly realized she had gotten into too much too soon, both in terms of physical intimacy and her emotional attachment to Craig. She decided that she would not get hurt again, and put up an even colder front to guys her own age. She would justify to her friends that she wasn’t interested in immature high school boys and when she got to college, she told them she didn’t have time for self-centered college boys. Yet all along, she’d find herself madly, yet secretly attracted to fatter boys, whenever they crossed her path.

At least she knew she wasn’t alone. From a young age she had been researching her interests on the internet, and by junior high, she had figured out that she was an FA. But being private about her feelings, she kept it her own secret, save some stealth emails exchanged with other FFAs she met online. In fact, she figured, that’s probably why she thought she’d be a good ‘Miss Suzanne.’ She was always keeping secrets.

She began to wear running gear to her Anthropology class so she could sprint even faster to get to Philosophy on time. The next week, she arrived early enough to seek out the big and cute guy she had a new crush on. This time, she jumped in the open chair next to him, looked over at him, and whispered, “Hi” with a big smile.

He smiled back. “How could he refuse my smile,” she thought to herself smugly, almost having fun with it, “I’ve been told I have a beautiful smile,” she reminded herself, with brazen immodesty bubbling under her tingling skin.

A couple of days later, her Philosophy professor was running a few of minutes late, so she was able to make small talk with him. “By the way, I’m Annalise,” she extended her hand.

“Luke,” he reached back, his plump hand gave hers a firm shake.

“Nice to meet you, Luke,” she flirted, imaging that plump hand caressing her thighs. More electricity ran through her body.

At the end of class, she asked Luke a question about the ideas they were covering. His answer revealed that he knew the material at least as well as she did. Then again, he didn’t have to know how well she knew it, but it made her attempts at conversation easier. “Do you have a class or something right now? I’d like to talk more about Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave,’ if you have time…” she almost batted her eyelids.

“Uh, yeah,” he seemed a little confused, but then smiled pleasantly, “Sure, you want to stop by the Union?”

They spent a couple of hours talking in the Union coffee shop, mostly about Plato. But she was able to glean some personal information from him too. Like Annalise, he was a sophomore, and they were the same age. Surprisingly, she took comfort in the idea of a guy who wasn’t much older like her last boyfriend had been. He was from Oregon, and his major was political science. He decided on Mount Hampton because his parents were originally from South Carolina and had always encouraged him to follow in their footsteps and attend a genteel southern university.

She was surprised she could remember anything he said, since she spent the whole time studying his physical form. His round face revealed an adorable amount of plumpness that didn’t detract from his round, light brown eyes or his sexy, full lips. She also snuck in a few glances of his body and felt enormous excitement at the sight of his belly filling the button down shirt he wore that day, pouring down a bit in front of his beltline. She also took happy notice of a fold of flab that creased along the side seam of that shirt.

When Analise mentioned to Luke that she was a journalism major, he quickly brought up the Dear Suzzanne column, which wasn’t surprising to Annalise. Most people had the same question when they found out she was a reporter for the Herald.

“So, do you know who Miss Suzanne is?” he queried.

She lied to Luke, like she lied to everyone else about it, with a shrug of her shoulders, “None of us have a clue.”

That afternoon, as she walked to the Herald offices, she thought about Luke. She imagined him wrapping his arms around her small waist and pressing his large front into hers, kissing her with the gusto she expected he might have for a delicious snack. And at the same time she wondered why she was so weird about fat? Why was she so fixated on his body?

Then, Annalise received this email in her Miss Suzanne account the next day:

Dear Suzanne,
There’s a girl in one of my classes who I have a major crush on. I’ll admit, at first I noticed her because she waltzed into the room, late everyday, looking amazing. And I was even slightly annoyed with her, because I figured she was one of those beautiful people that gets away with everything. But then I talked to her, and realized she’s also very intelligent and incredibly sweet. So now I’m practically in love with her. And so I should just ask her out, right? Yeah, right, except for one big, fat problem. I’m a big guy: stout, heavy, tubby, whatever you want to call it. Guys like me never get girls like her. So should I just be her friend, or risk humiliation and discomfort in all future interactions with this girl?”

The Overweight Lover

Annalise was anxious about this letter in particular. She imagined that it was from Luke, and that he wanted to ask her out. But it could have been anyone. There were a fair number of chubby guys she noticed walking around the campus every day, and plenty of pretty southern beauty queen types to turn their heads. She took her best stab at encouraging him without banal, trite, ‘just go for it’-style advice.

Dear Lover,
If I had a dollar for every person who felt they were not good enough for the object of their affection, why, I’d be a very wealthy gal (or at least much wealthier than I already am). So you THINK that your weight is a problem for this teen queen, but how do you KNOW that? For all you know, this girl could be a big fan of a big man. If you don’t believe me, check out If that doesn’t make you rethink your premise, I don’t know what will. As a matter of fact, Miss Suzanne has been known to appreciate a sturdy gent herself.
So onto the advice… Perhaps you should get to know this young lady a bit more, make sure she’s worth agonizing over and not just another pretty face who thinks the sun comes up just to hear her crow. Even better, she’ll get to know you a little more too. Don’t rush too fast with ladies, we like to be courted in the proper way.

Hugs, Darlin,

The next day, the letter was published and she raced to her classes. Luke was sitting there, with a copy of the latest edition, unopened. She sat down, with a smile, “Hi Luke.”

He smiled back, “Hi.”

“Did you read the latest edition yet?” She asked him, pointing to the paper.

“No, I just grabbed it on my way to class.”

She started to think he couldn’t have been the letter writer, he would have jumped into it right away to see if had gotten answered. “I have an item in there,” she bragged, “the story about the activity fee increases,” she trailed off, realizing he might be very bored with her story.

“Cool,” he smiled, “where is it?” He opened the paper and before he could get to page 5, his eyes landed on her Dear Suzzanne column. He paused and seemed to start to read it, and then looked back at Annalise, “What page?”

“Page 5, but it’s not very exciting, you don’t have to read it,” she felt weirdly insecure.

Just then, the professor walked in and he closed the paper.

She wondered through the entire class, “Did that pause at Dear Suzzanne mean he recognized his own letter? Or am I imagining more than just a passing glance?”

As the next couple of weeks went by, Luke and Annalise continued with pleasantries and small talk, but nothing earth shattering happened. One part of her longed to be with him, and yet another part of her felt so uncertain about getting into any kind of relationship. These contradictory feelings kept her from flirting with him too much more than she already had.

She imagined her own letter to Suzanne:

Dear Suzanne,
I’m a college girl, nice-looking, friendly, active, busy, single… all of the things nice girls are. I have a male acquaintance who I find very attractive and sweet. Actually, I think about him quite a bit. On one hand, I’d like to ask him out, you know, make it more than “just friends.” On the other hand, I’m worried I don’t have the ability to be a good girlfriend. I’m very set in my ways, I worry about taking on close relationships because I don’t want to give up my independence. And I’m most worried about whether I’d be any good for him at all. My life is perfect when I’m single, and I was most miserable when a guy did come into my life. I could find out that relationships are not right for me and break his heart… Or my own. What is a nice girl to do?

Fears Full Attachment

How would Suzanne answer this letter? For once, Annalise didn’t have a clue. Why were other people's problems so much easier to solve than her own?

As the Thanksgiving break approached, Annalise noticed something different about Luke. He seemed to be losing weight. She apparently didn’t notice right away, but the clothing that had been nicely tightened around his body the month before was becoming loose and hanging on his less full frame. He was still a big guy, but there was just slightly less of him to admire, she disappointedly observed.

 The Sunday after Thanksgiving, Annalise returned to her apartment with a message on her machine from her friend Joe, asking her to play a couple of games of Tennis at the Rec Center. Joe was on the newspaper too, and was the first person she met on Campus her freshman year. Their schedules hadn’t allowed them to talk much yet this semester, and Annalise felt like she needed the exercise after a long weekend of lounging at home in Ohio.

Joe was somewhat quiet, very intelligent, and often got attention from women for his loner-rebel good looks. Yet he didn’t date at all as far as Annalise knew. Annalise had a hunch he was gay, but he never talked about it, so she never asked. She didn’t date much either, so who was she to judge?

As they played, they carried on conversation. “So, Lise, what’s up in the men department? Are you still too busy for a boyfriend?”

She laughed, “Probably, but there is one guy I have my eye on,” she admitted, which was unlike her to admit.

“Really? Wow,” he mocked her playfully, “I didn’t think you were emotionally available,” he teased more, remembering some of their late-night conversations the year before.

“You hush!” she laughed, hitting the ball back over to him as hard as she could. The ball sailed past him.

They finished up and walked toward the locker area. Passing by the racquetball courts, she glanced in and saw a hefty looking guy playing. He shifted around and she realized it was Luke.

Joe noticed she stopped in her tracks to watch the match, and walked back a few steps to see what the show was. “Hey… what’s so interesting here?”

“Oh,” she realized Joe was watching her watch Luke, “Uh, that’s a guy in one of my classes, Luke, he’s a friend, I wanted to ask him about something that’s supposed to be on our exam,” she awkwardly spit out, half lying.

“Oh, for a second I thought you might be checking him out,” he poked her side.

“So what if I was? He’s a cutie,” she smiled at Joe, feeling defensive, and revealing more than she was usually comfortable with.

”Hey, whatever you say, I just didn’t know you were a chubby chaser,” he laughed.

She was flabbergasted by his directness, “I’m not anything!” She didn’t like that crude label. “Can’t someone just like someone without it being a big judgmental thing?” she was half smiling and half frustrated.

“Sorry Lise, I didn’t mean to be a prick about it, I was just teasing you. I don’t care who you have a thing for, as long as you still like me,” he smiled.

Just then, Luke walked out of the racquetball court, and his eyes landed on Annalise, then Joe.

“Hey Luke!” she brightly greeted him, “how was your Thanksgiving?”

“Not much to tell,” he sighed, sweat running down his soft cheek, “I just stayed here in town,” he shrugged his shoulders.

“Did I miss anything?” she continued small talk.

“Naw, it was dead around here,” he trailed off, being less conversational than usual, occasionally glancing at Joe.

“Luke, this is my friend Joe,” she introduced them. They shook hands. “Joe is my journalism buddy,” she tried to explain so that he wouldn’t get the wrong idea.

“And Tennis buddy,” Joe added. They were all silent for a second. “Well, kids, I gotta fly, I didn’t do any studying this weekend so I better go get started… Nice to meet you Luke.” He lightly hugged Annalise, “don’t be such a stranger,” he winked at her.

Annalise wondered if Luke would take Joes ‘don’t be a stranger’ comment as, “we are just friends,” or if he would assume Joe and her had a romantic history. She turned her attention back to Luke, “I didn’t know you played racquetball,” she wanted to keep talking to him.

“I used to when I was a kid,” he explained, “but then I got away from it. I figured I needed to get more active again, so…” he trailed off, absentmindedly brushing his hand along his middle.

“That’s cool,” she didn’t want to say anything that implied she agreed that he needed more exercise. “So, can I ask you about that whole Nietzsche Nihilism thing?” She had grown to love talking about philosophy with Luke. His ideas were very thought provoking. And he was so darn cute too.

“Uh sure, but I really need to shower first,” he smiled.

“Of course, sorry, yeah, I do too,” she apologized, imagining him tearing off his shirt and revealing his slightly reduced, but still full, jiggling belly. Then she spent a little time fantasizing about the shower part, with shampoo cascading down his rounded body, weaving all over his padding. Electricity ran down her spine at the soft and soapy image.

They met back at the entrance of the Rec Center and walked toward the Library, talking about existentialism and relativism. She noticed again his clothes were even looser, and she felt strangely annoyed with his weight loss. Still, every time she looked into his eyes, she became more certain that she wanted him to put his arms around her.

They stayed at the coffee shop for a while before Luke changed the subject.

“So, is that Joe guy your boyfriend?”

“Joe? No, we’re just friends,” she felt her face getting hot.

“Were you an item before or something?” Luke pressed her.

“Nope, just buds,” she explained.

“Then, do you have a boyfriend?” He continued, her face getting even hotter.

“No,” she smiled, but didn’t know what else to say. She couldn’t easily elaborate on the topic, especially to Luke.

“That surprises me,” he leaned back.

“Why?” she was slightly annoyed at the suggestion that she should fit into a mold.

“Because hot girls always have boyfriends…” his words flooded over her. Despite his stereotyping, she was thrilled he called her “hot.”

“Well, do you have a girlfriend?” she teased back.

He laughed, “No, then again, that shouldn’t be surprising.”

“Well, that’s true, it’s not surprising, since cute guys usually like to play the field,” she smirked with a smile.

“You are too funny,” he mocked, then gazed at her and then looked away for a moment. Just when Annalise thought she was going to open up a little more to him, he glanced at his watch, “I have to go, I’ve got to finish a paper that’s due Tuesday.”

“Okay, see you later,” she was frustrated, but realized she would have plenty of Dear Suzanne emails to wade through and needed to get back to work on them.

Late that night, another email arrived into her Dear Suzanne email box:

Dear Suzanne,
I took the advice you gave me to get friendlier with the beautiful girl I have a crush on, and so far it seems to be working. Every once in a while I get the feeling that she is flirting with me, or that she likes me back. I’m pretty sure that she is the kind of girl worthy of my agonizing.
I also started to lose some weight, hoping that would help, but I’m still a pretty big guy, so she won’t magically be more attracted to me if she’s turned off by fat guys, I guess. At this point, I just don’t know what the next step is. Chances are very high she will reject me, but I feel ridiculous obsessing about her and doing nothing about it.

The Slightly Less Overweight Lover

Annalise stared at her computer screen, reading it over and over, for several minutes. It sounded so much like it could be Luke. She froze up. What do I do? Do I encourage him? Do I know too much? Is it unethical for me to publish this, knowing that my answer is biased? Is it possible that there’s another fat guy on campus who’s become friends with a cute girl that flirts with him, and has coincidently just started losing weight?

She laid in bed, thinking about it. By 2 a.m., she still couldn’t sleep, so she jumped from under her covers and wrote a response for the paper:

Dear Lover,
You sound like the kind of boy that any gal would be lucky to have. I’m glad you took my advice to continue the friendship, we can never be too rich or have too many friends. And I’m glad to hear she’s responded in a flirtatious mode; that bodes well for you. Now, you need to pay closer attention to her flirtation. Does she talk to everyone that way, or just to you? Does she go out of her way to sit next to you? To chat with you? To spend time with you? All men would do well to pay attention to the subtleties of a woman’s charms. If you can look closely at your non-verbal interaction with her, it will speak volumes.

About the weight loss thing. You shouldn’t do it because you’re trying to please someone else, or it will tear you up. If you can honestly say you’re doing it for you, then great, just be healthy about it. Dieting for the quick fix will backfire… every time.

Hugs, Darlin,
Miss Suzanne

The letter was published a couple of days later. Annalise walked into class that day, sat down next to Luke, and things were the same as always. No more or less. They spent a little time studying for the final exam, she continued to flirt, but he didn’t ask her out. Maybe he wasn’t “The Overweight Lover” after all. Or, maybe she wasn’t the girl in the letters, and Luke was interested in an entirely different person.

Annalise got to thinking, what if she changed that letter she’d write to Miss Suzanne. What if she stopped dancing around her preconceived notions that she hadn’t the time or the ability to deal with a relationship? What if she just followed her heart?

She thought on it, and a few days later, she published the usual question and answer as her service to the random campus downtrodden and forlorn, and then added at the bottom:

“The following communication is not a request for advice, but a reader statement.

Dear Suzanne,
I could very well be the object of affection contained in your letters from “The Overweight Lover.” I have a blooming friendship with a big guy whom I make excuses to spend time with, and yes, flirt with. I like him, very much, as a person. And I’m also very attracted to him physically. He’s got wonderful brown eyes and a nice, full body. If he’s reading this, he doesn’t need to lose an ounce of weight for me. So why don’t I just ask him out? I’m scared. Yes, pathetic, but I’m scared that I don’t know how to handle what it takes to make a successful relationship. I have very little experience, and what experience I had was not pleasant. Singlehood is when I am most in control, most comfortable, and least likely to be hurt. He implies that this pretty girl is too good for him, but I think he might be too good for the girl who is too afraid to open her door and invite him in. But, maybe if he would knock a bit louder, the walls might just tumble down around her.

Miss Independent

The next week, Annalise walked into Philosophy for the final exam, and sat down next to Luke, smiling but saying nothing. He passed her a note, “Not sure how long each of us will take on this exam, so can you meet me at 2pm at the Union Coffee House? My flight leaves for Portland tomorrow, and I want to find out how you think you did.”

She looked over at him, and smiled, and nodded “yes.”

Luke flew through the exam and left within an hour. Annalise took longer, as she always poured over her words, writing and re-writing. The journalist in her sometimes made her overly critical of how she should grammatically express herself on essay exams.

She ran back to her apartment to fix up her hair and change into something new before her meeting with Luke. She knew she was falling for him, because she rarely primped for anyone.

She showed up at their usual coffee shop meeting place, and Luke was already there. She sat down and he smiled, “so what did you think of the exam?”

“It was okay, I think I got most of it right,” she sighed.

“Yeah, it wasn’t that bad,” he agreed.

“You helped me so much Luke, just talking through the material, I really appreciated you taking the time,” Annalise thanked him.

“You helped me just as much,” he thanked her in return. Then Luke paused, and smiled, “I’ll miss our conversations. We should take another Philosophy class together, I think.”

“Yep,” she agreed, “although, we don’t have to have a class together to have a reason to hang out together,” she smiled, her face reddening.

He smiled, and instead of looking away as he usually did, his gaze stayed glued to her eyes. She felt warmness flood over her and her brain went haywire. At that moment the only thing that raced through her head was the letters from the Overweight Lover. So she just came out and asked him, “Can I ask you something… personal?”

“Sure,” he looked confused.

“Did you ever write a letter to ‘Dear Suzanne’?”

His face turned as crimson as hers, “Why do you ask?”

“I just thought maybe you did…” she trailed off, realizing that she was going the direction of recognizing his identity as the Overweight Lover, calling attention to his weight. She felt sick inside, imagining how offended he might be.

His face shifted from embarrassment to assuredness, “Yeah, I did. I’m the ‘Overweight Lover’ guy, I’ll admit it.”

“Really?!” She exclaimed loudly, and then realized that embarrassed Luke more, so she turned the volume down. “What’s happened with the girl you mentioned in the letters?” She prodded, wondering more than ever if it was a different girl.

“I don’t know,” he smiled, “I’m still trying to figure her out,” he paused. “What made you think it was me? There’s plenty of fat guys on campus,” he chuckled through and embarrassed smile.

“I wrote to Miss Suzanne too,” Annalise offered. She knew she had to come clean too.

“Really? Which letter?” Luke implored.

“Miss Independent,” she admitted, looking down.

They were both silent for several seconds.

“So, wait…” he trailed off, “I don’t get it…” he was putting it together, but seemed too afraid to say what he knew was going on.

“Luke,” she paused, afraid to say it, but then just blurted it out, “Am I the girl you like? The one from the letters?”

“Yes Annalise, you are, isn’t it obvious?” he almost whispered.

“No,” she countered, and paused, “I mean, it made sense, especially the description about me being late for class all the time, and then you losing…,” she stopped herself. She was so afraid of talking about his weight because it was as sexy to her as it was potentially offensive to him. It felt like a time bomb waiting to go off.

“So, who is the guy your letter referred to?”

“You,” she nearly whispered.

“You’re actually attracted to me?” he remained incredulous.

“Yes,” she whispered, smiling. He looked dumbfounded. She reacted, “Why should that be such a strange thing? Why should you be surprised? You’re wonderful to talk to, Luke, and… cute… and…” she paused, “sexy…” she began to whisper, smiling like the Cheshire cat.

His shock turned into a smile, “Annalise, I can’t believe how much time I wasted,” he shook his head. “But why didn’t you say something? You know you could have had me, or any guy like me on his knees in an instant,” he laughed.

“Luke, I just didn’t know,” she paused. “I didn’t know if I could deal with a relationship. I didn’t know if I wanted to change my perfect, single world. I only have to be responsible to myself, it’s easy that way.”

“So does that mean there’s no hope of you going out with me tonight?” he teased, lightening the mood.

“Only if you forget the diet tonight and eat something good,” she teased back.

“You got it!”

They walked back to his place, where Annalise let the time bomb go off, and proved a nice girl could let a fat boy pass a couple of bases, even on a first date.


© 2015 Ashblonde / Ashley B