Texts From Little Women

by Mallory Ortberg

tell me it’s a wretched lie
Jo I don’t know how many more times we have to have this conversation
I’ll have it a THOUSAND TIMES if I must
but yes
I am still marrying John tomorrow
just like I was planning to yesterday
this is unbearable
and also last month
answer me this, then
who exactly do you think is going to play Mercy
when we put on my version of The Pilgrim’s Progress this summer?
I wrote that part for YOU
wrote it beautifully in fact
I don’t know, darling
she gets a cracking scene with the villain Rodrigo where he tries to poison her
and she screams and faints and everything
I don’t remember anyone named Rodrigo in The Pilgrim’s Progress
I’m very sorry
this production will be ruined
why don’t you ask Amy?
i’m not even going to dignify that with a response

You still have three hours to change your mind
we could run away and be pirates
or just wear bloomers
but I love him, Jo
I can’t even understand you when you get hysterical like this
I love him and I want to marry him — that’s all
you’re just ranting now
it’s pure gibberish
we’ll be living just down the road, honestly
it’ll be like i never left at all
does he have a horse?
is that what this is about?
does he have a sword gun or a railroad
or a
a nice hat or something?
no, that’s not what this is about
I hope you realize you’re breaking up the family
I really wish you wouldn’t see things that way
a broken home
that’s what I come from now
a broken home
that’s not what they call it when your sister gets married
then why does it feel broken, Meg
why does it feel broken
this is the worst thing
that has ever happened
to anyone
since Father died
Father didn’t die, Jo!
he’s only been wounded!
didn’t he?
for some reason I thought he’d died
he’ll be home in a few weeks
do you suppose he’s going to want his old greatcoat
and riding boots
and shaving things
and top hat
when he gets back?
I expect that he will

I despise everything
did you know she wouldn’t even let me have any fireworks at her wedding
I didn’t know that
not a single solitary firework
nor a footrace either
she wouldn’t even let me challenge the groomsmen to a feat of strength
well I’m afraid that’s fairly customary
not to have the maid of honor wrestling the wedding party, I mean
all right
imagine having to get married without even one little roman candle
i won’t do it you know
all right, Jo
i’ll kill myself and all of you
but i won’t live in that world

amy im dying tonight
oh no
yes im definitely dying
oh its terrible how much im dying just now
what exactly
what are you dying of
this sewing needle
it’s so very heavy
put it down
the window — it’s so — so bright
the window is killing you?
it’s so terribly full of glass
I see
theres just glass all over it
i don’t know how you stand it
oh I manage
i dont think ill make it through the night
well I’ll be here if you need me
and to think i once stepped outside the house
to stand in the sun
yes, I remember that day
what a strong and foolhardy girl i was then

dear Laurie — 
dearest Laurie — 
surely at this point you know
i can’t possibly marry you
i’m so sorry
please try to forgive me
of course I’ll respect your wishes
but why?
there’s no one who knows you better
i know that
we have such fun together
we do!
and you’re dear to me
and jolly
and clever
cleverer than me anyhow
and I –
I do love you
most awfully, Jo
Laurie, I can’t
please don’t ask me again
I can’t help but ask
and I can’t give you any answer but no
all right
all right

Oh Meg, darling
it’s all over
Beth is with Father now
Jo, Father still isn’t dead
I saw him not four hours ago
could have sworn he died at sea
or somewhere

Jo, I’m sorry about what I said the other day
I know how you feel about marriage
and — and everything
Oh, Laurie
that’s all right
you’ll never marry anyone
your writing is too important — that comes first
I do admire you for that, really I do
you’re going to do tremendous things
that’s awfully kind of you to say
and I count myself lucky to know you
I do, Jo
we’ll be old bachelors together
you and I
the thing is, chum
running a cattle ranch
somewhere out West
turns out I am going to be married after all
I’ve met someone, I mean
please understand I never intended to –
he’s the most wonderful man
very old
much older than me
he’s German — 
very German — 
so German it’s hard to understand him at first when he speaks
and you’re going to marry
with yourself
you’re going to be marrying him yourself I mean
his mustache is enormous
bushy and gray and covered in crumbs
all of him is covered in crumbs
he’s filthy haha
well that’s just
oh and he just hates my writing
criticizes my work unceasingly
I see
i really cannot overemphasize
how much he disapproves of my voice as a writer
wants me to change everything about it
how can I compete with that
please don’t blame yourself

Previously: Texts From the Baby-Sitters Club.

Mallory Ortberg is a writer in the Bay Area. Her work has also appeared on Slacktory and Ecosalon.