S h o r t   F i c t i o n  /  E s s a y s



One of the best things to come out of my association with X-Files fandom has been my friendship with Listen. Mainly a lurker, she wrote me a tentative note one day in 1998 about a discussion I'd started on a message board, and I could immediately see her perceptiveness and felt the need to draw her (and her acute observations) out and into the discussion.

I wrote back immediately, and so our friendship began, daily mails leading us through discussions of plot and character, then our own lives and interests. It soon became apparent that we were unwitting twins in many respects, right down to our interest in gardening and our mutual confessions that on occasion we'd tossed the odd snail over the back fence, knowing it would land in the yard of a neighbor we found less than pleasant.

Being an extremely low-percentage personality type, and hence very unaccustomed to coming across people who really 'got' me, I was excited to find that Listen was also an INFJ. It was like coming home after a long, long wander, and the fact that I was trying to get my sea legs again after some extended hardships made her friendship even more nourishing.

It was fun, too. That first Christmas she sent me a wonderful picture book of her Vancouver area, with explanatory Post-Its carefully left on the many pages showing locations where scenes from the X-Files had been filmed. Two years later she managed to make it down to Southern California with friends. She stayed with us for three days and fit in just like family. Even the cats, normally timid with strangers, took to her right away.

But several years ago our communication began to taper off. We were both busy, and Listen has endured a number of health challenges that have made it very difficult for her to sit at the computer and write. Still, where there's a will, there's usually a way. I worked hard at keeping things going, but eventually, when it seemed like I was doing 80% of the communicating and I began to wonder if a hint was being given and I was just too dense to take it, I let things taper off. A palpable sadness took over my mental fabric, though I tried to focus on the good we'd shared. Finally, some months later, I printed out a small copy (suitable for holding by aching hands) of my most recent story, which she hadn't yet had the opportunity to read, and mailed it off to her. At least she might enjoy this, I thought.

Three days later I received a card in the mail with handwriting I immediately recognized. It was Listen, of course, catching up. It was too soon for her to have received the story I'd sent, and indeed she made no mention of it. But I was immediately heartened, not only by her letter but by the fact that after several months, each of us had acted independently and our sendings had crossed in the mail. Still twinsies, I thought. It's been tremendously heartening.

Gradually our friendship has shifted to a phone-based format.  Every few weeks we connect and talk about all sorts of things... and I come away feeling as if I'd gone to a fire cold and come away with a warmth that will help to carry me forward.

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