EMMA: You have no idea how many nights he’s spent drooling over this thing. How many years. Seriously. Every night. Sitting there with his little colored pencils and his rulers and his stencil, hunched over, like some grammar school kid doing his homework, pouring through your books, popping a few pills, making notes in the margins, cup of coffee, hunting for anything he might have missed, any geographic reference, any clue you might have dropped, some breadcrumb, anything he could convert into a solid number, a measurement. If you wrote that some character travelled from point A to point B in, say, two weeks, he’d actually calculate a predicted rate of travel and extrapolate the distance so he could plot it on his map, then he’d triangulate all known locations until he could pinpoint exactly how everything fit together, until he could eliminate all other possibilities. How many drafts did you make, Harold? Fifteen? Twenty? Thirty? At first, I thought it was cute. He was so serious about the whole thing. You should have seen him. He thought he was Lewis and Clark, charting unexplored territory, but then he’d notice some little mistake and tear the whole thing apart. Rip it to shreds. The map had to be perfect. Flawless. It was like a religion. He wouldn’t talk to me. We stopped having sex. Sometimes he took sick days so he could stay home and work on this monstrosity. I tried to distract him, offer alternative activities. I’d strip down to nothing … whisper in his ear … dirty little thoughts … you know … suggestions … geometrical calculations of my own … all the different ways that two bodies can come together … I’d brush my tits through his hair … rub myself against him like some bitch in heat … nothing. No reaction. He wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence. Unless, of course, I’d role-play, you know, pretend to be one of your goddamned characters, then he’d throw himself on top of me like a sailor on shore leave, like a preacher filled with the holy spirit—then I was his oracle at Delphi, my body dispensing divine inspiration, but the moment I was me again, the second I was Emma, he’d drift away like a ghost. Back to the map. He didn’t want any distractions from the map. And that’s all I was—a distraction. That’s why I’m a whore, by the way—not because I cheated or crawled into someone else’s bed … but because I tried to lure him away from this!