CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
To Be Taken
Justine Haemmerli


I am going to write a story called “To Be Taken.” It will be about a twenty-year-old girl. It will be ten pages long. It will take place in Missouri. It will remind me of a dream I had not long ago. I will send this story to magazines so they can publish it. The girl will have arching sperm eyebrows and a nice smile. The tone will be ironic. The form will refer to the content. The mother will be conciliatory about the events that transpire and disappointed in those which don’t. The mother will arouse wolfish hate in you. “A top scoring varsity soccer player throughout high school, Colleen Matthews was athletic and well-liked. Colleen was initially recruited by MSU for her soccer skills, but ultimately decided on our school in order to pursue her interests in psychology.” The story will be based on my dream. The girl will go to a state university with high-rise living. I should go to Missouri to describe it better. The mother will admit she knows these kinds of things happen to other people. My dream must be public because anyone could have dreamt it. The girl is a girl who refers to them as panties with blank eyes and a straight face. If I were to go to Missouri I would need to buy new luggage and a tape recorder. The girl’s car keys will hang on a Missouri State lanyard from which dangle many office keys with color-coded rubber tops. This story will make you think about who is missing from your life and how you might try to get them. “In high school, Colleen’s teachers’ only complaint about the bright student was that she should speak up more in class. Although she was always somewhat shy, Colleen’s close girl friends speak openly about how ‘goofy’ and ‘fun-loving’ Colleen could be in private. In fact, in high school she was fondly referred to as ‘Colleen the Scream’ among family and friends.” Someone must have told me of the dream at some point because I couldn’t have made it up. The girl’s blow-dried hair will seem kinetic even when she sits still with pretty good posture and dribbling eyeliner. The timbre of the girl’s voice will not change when she cries. The mother will be interviewed in her modest home. Her sofas will be described as “dun.” The mother will work at Office Depot. The mother will be a stay-at-home mom. The mother will work at the thrift store. The mother will be between jobs. The girl will be a Communications major. The girl will audit an introductory psychology course in order to hone her negotiation skills. The girl’s best friend, who is also her roommate, will divulge her love life like celebrity gossip when she is finally interviewed. The culprit will be anyone. The girl’s green v-neck reveals the topography of her little lace bra. I will give up on Missouri if I cannot find enough demoralizing industry and dreary billboards there. In the dream I sat bound and I waited to be kidnapped. The story will illuminate our desire to be desired. “Claudia Miller, a senior here at MSU and a bartender at campus watering hole The Cockpit, sat down with The Herald to give us her take on the incident. ‘Ryan and Colleen used to hit the bar scene pretty hard every weekend,’ she tells us. ‘They loved getting free drinks from the guys who were here alone.’” The girl will walk to her car from the locker room. The girl’s room will be filled with marabou picture frames and pink pillows. The walls of the girl’s dorm room will be latticed with dusty scotch-tape which used to bear important pictures in which her face was fully visible. You will imagine her life as part of a faded Nancy Drew landscape where college buildings are medieval and tits are breasts. The incident will occur on a Monday evening. I should go to Missouri because there are still stories there that will grab people with a smallness I will successfully transform into immensity. The story will be practical. In the dream I did not try to escape. “‘There had been a couple of encounters with guys in the parking lot of the Cockpit which shook Colleen up a bit,’ Ryan explains over a breakfast of Tazo tea and Parliaments. ‘But Colleen was always making the littlest thing into a big deal. Especially when it had to do with guys. She was always convinced one of them was going to whisk her away. She liked the aggressive type, you know.’” The girl will plan what to do in every circumstance. The girl will be smarter than I will try to make you believe. The father will purse his upper lip while muttering that they didn’t take her to karate classes for nothing. Her old friends will blink their loving bovine eyes and be unoriginal. In the dream I cried from the torture of waiting for something I knew was inevitable. In mustering the courage to discuss the incident, the girl will roll her eyes to keep the tears from plopping on her new khaki skirt where they would leave stains. The girl will not know that the school newspaper is not photographing her for the piece but is instead using stock footage of a blurry car. The girl will bet that Cosmo takes all its own pictures. The story will expose itself halfway through.
      Working at the Office Depot day in and day out is like serving a sentence. The mother will keep Star and Us magazines underneath the Xerox manual when she works the copying shift. You are only interested in the mother because she makes you angry and it’s strangely motivating. “Colleen had morning soccer practice that day, just like every other Monday when the Bears can be seen running laps around the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex.” A sentence means a unit of enslavement and a unit of expression. Missouri looks likes Wisconsin, Iowa, and San Francisco had an orgy. The girl realized after it was all over that Ryan had a worse understanding of the ethereal than she had first thought. Ryan never took Art History classes even though she worked at the independent coffee shop on campus that hosted open-mic night once a month. This story will make me an official member of the club. “‘I would fall for guys who seemed exciting, dangerous, and who could become, like, totally obsessed,’ Colleen confessed to us in the safety of her adorable dorm room. Surrounded by old prom pictures and soccer trophies, Colleen looks just like one of us Midwest girls. Hugging a light pink pillow to her chest and speaking with a quiet simplicity that draws a stark contrast to her harrowing tale, it’s hard to imagine anything this twisted happening on our campus – especially to one of our star soccer players.” I will ask myself how to explain why what happened in my dream happened. I have only seen Iowa in short films. The girl will settle for an interview with The Herald once the six o’clock news drops the story. The girl’s teachers will always encourage her to try living up to her potential. The club is for artists. I have only heard stories of Wisconsin. The mother is a woman who wears nude pantyhose in the spring. The assailant will be remorseless. “On Friday, October 23rd, Colleen was at The Cockpit with Ryan. They were taking shots at the bar, dancing with some ‘cute ex-marines,’ according to Ms. Miller, and they were generally enjoying themselves. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.” The club is adulthood. The girl will become fixated upon kidnapping after getting felt-up next to the public phones in the bar by an American History major. The girl will buy a new cell phone with a built-in camera in case she is held hostage in a strange place. I have only seen commercials set in San Francisco. The girl will select which photos from the prom should be taken off her wall and given to the television station for the moment when the public is inevitably asked if they have seen this girl. I dreamt about something unsavory to people like you and me. “An attractive cell phone salesman named Steve approached Colleen that Friday evening, and asked to buy her a whiskey sour. She accepted, and the two began chatting. Ryan recalls that at first glance, dressed in a suit and tie, standing about six feet tall and weighing 190 pounds, Steve looked ‘professional.’” I will not write the story in order to recount my dream but because I was capable of having it. The girl will not have boyfriends but men who earn the title once they’re gone. The girl will practice shallow breathing when she lies down in bed so that it seems she is already dead when left under a sheet. I am a regional bigot. The girl will think she could not be a slut if she tried. The zipper on the girl’s party boots will constantly get stuck. “Colleen started to become extremely cautious about being kidnapped, making sure to steer clear of full, lit parking lots, men she knew, and strangers who appeared unthreatening.” You will lose interest in the story of her kidnapping when you learn that the girl uses her White Musk perfume only when she thinks the night will hold an inaugural moment. The girl will be convinced she is following all the necessary steps. “Steve and Colleen talked about Missouri, cell phones, and intramural sports. He asked if he could call her, and she said yes.” Missouri State University students get a two-for-one deal on kamikaze shots every Wednesday night at The Cockpit. This story will make me famous at a startlingly young age. “Colleen and her high school friends called their group ‘The Pink Ladies,’ after their favorite movie Grease.” The girl will never feel she possesses sexiness and sex simultaneously because there’s nothing to wait for in the consummation of desire. “‘Colleen was a cautious young woman. I’d say she was probably considered shy by those who didn’t know her well,’ Coach Tanner told The Herald when we caught up with him at morning practice last week.” I will wear Marc Jacobs to my publication party. Marc Jacobs will make the dress for me. Marc Jacobs will give the dress to me. Marc Jacobs will name the dress after me. Marc Jacobs will make dresses because of me.
      The lines around the mother’s lips will deepen, filled like canals with the stinging tears only injustice can produce. “Colleen felt they ‘really hit it off,’ and proceeded to give Steve her number. After he left Colleen went to get Ryan from the bathroom so that she would drive her home. The very next day, Steve called and asked if he could take Colleen to dinner.” I do not understand why people have children. The mother will want to be coddled in her old age. The mother fears that she didn’t push her children hard enough to reap the benefits of their success as she wanders alone through the house with nothing to prepare and nothing to rush off to. The girl will work at an unsuccessful counseling center after college. The father will have forgotten he is part of the club. The mother shakes her head and tsk tsks when she thinks something is important and unfair. The culprit will insist that he did nothing wrong when he is caught up with while leisurely eating a sandwich in the Verizon showroom. The Pink Ladies will organize elaborate baby showers for each other where they will confess after sixteen years of friendship that each one of them has dabbled in masturbation. The girl will wonder about the personal possibility of marriage and whether it is everything or the opposite of what she wants. You all might become regional bigots too. “Ryan was a little bit wary of this ‘smooth-talker,’ as she would come to call Steve, but Colleen just smiled and told Ryan to stop doubting her. Still, Ryan insists that she had a funny feeling about this man who appeared out of nowhere, and seemed too perfect for what Colleen was looking for that night.” Nobody in this story will know how dope smells. Nobody is going to read this story. The Pink Ladies will experiment with chunky highlights but only under the guise of solidarity so it doesn’t seem trampy. If a confession is confessed in the forest of this story and nobody reads it, does the confession exist? The girl will buy large silver hoop earrings after the incident. The mother saved her wedding dress for her daughter but is now thinking of putting it in storage. I liked my dream. Ryan will change her name to Rianne for a semester and then change it back. You will probably forget the father’s name three lines after you read it but I won’t mind. The girl will rediscover her gold cross when she puts away the hoops and remember she is religious. The mother is always exhausted because everything feels important and unfair. The police will agree that the culprit did nothing wrong and apologetically leave him to his lunch. “Ryan was afraid this might escalate into a dangerous situation, so she waited to make sure the two of them returned safely from Bennigans before heading to bed herself. Ryan watched as Colleen locked Steve’s car as they shared a goodnight kiss. As Ryan recounts to us how she saw ‘Colleen put his huge hand on the back of her neck,’ engaging her other hand in becoming ‘tangled in the seatbelt behind her back,’ a shudder shakes her body and tears come to her eyes. All Ryan could think of was Colleen’s future, abducted and ‘left to wait for further attentions in the trunk of that Pontiac.’” The girl will remember religion like a bunkmate who meant everything seven summers ago but whose name no longer exists, anywhere. My dream was sexy. I could be the biggest in Missouri. Nobody trusts the tales of the young or the old. The girl will always wear nail polish with grains of iridescence. The tales of the old have endings that reflect upon a shut past that doesn’t matter anymore. The tales of the young end in imagined places that haven’t yet occurred. “She knew she had to get through to Colleen, but her friend was in too deep with this sinister ‘lover.’ Ryan pleaded with Colleen to stay away from the man she knew was The One who would be her kidnapper, but Colleen insisted that ‘if it was meant to be it was meant to be,’ Ryan recalls. Colleen assured her roommate that ‘she could take care of it herself.’” All desires are sexy. The older you get the more license you have to tell anyone any story you please, regardless of believability. I think I could conquer Missouri. “That night after Ryan went to sleep, Colleen made sure to unlock all her windows and leave her front door ajar.” Looking makes us daydream. Being looked at makes us walk differently. “Colleen tucked her photo-phone into the front of her panties and her prom photos under her bra strap.” You think I am too young to tell a story.
      Sexy is used incorrectly, the way we say Kleenex to mean tissue. This story should be published in a magazine that is durable and matte. The girl’s eyes will be starved for looking and looks. Fame is sustenance. Masochists are masochists for good reasons. In its generic form, sexiness is a veiled outreach. It is a sentence. “The next morning she woke up still in her bed, unscathed.” The corners of my eyes let me know I am being watched. “Somewhat shaken up, she attended morning practice at the Robert W. Plaster Sports Complex. Teammate Aimee Laronce noted that Colleen’s disposition was more ‘goth’ than usual. ‘Her eyes had this faraway glaze in them. I’ve only seen her like that after she’s missed an important shot in a game. Or when her parents come to a game. But this time it was just practice, in the morning. So I was like: Colleen, something is up.’ And sure enough, something was ‘up.’” Sentences in both senses of the word are forms of desire. Fame tastes deliciously of bread and water. The culprit will be the girl’s escape. The culprit’s possible failure will be her strange motivation. “Colleen seemed nervous throughout practice and kept searching the perimeters of the soccer field with her eyes.” The corners of the girl’s eyes will know what they are hunting. The girl will decide to cross the populated part of the parking lot so as to test his conviction. Their eyes could rest if he would just put her in the trunk. You can live happily on bread and water alone. “That night, Colleen made herself remember that she forgot a book in her locker at the school gym. At one in the morning of October 26th, she left her dorm and drove across campus, parking in the empty lot behind the Dillians Center for Natural Sciences.” The girl will always use a butterfly clip to clamp her ponytail. “Colleen walked the quarter mile to the athletic facility alone. She left her car windows slightly open. She was unsure whether or not she left her lights on.” “She walked the quarter mile to the athletic facility alone. She left her car windows slightly open. She was unsure whether or not she left her lights on.” Think twice when I tell you that the girl will find the notion of her kidnapping sexy. “ Once she reached her locker, Colleen retrieved the book she had decided to need very badly and started to walk back to her car. She stopped to admire some of the new paths being forged through the woods abutting south campus, where joggers are warned to exercise in pairs.” Exhibition­ists are exhibitionists for a good reason. “Colleen tripped over a twig she had neatly placed on the path on her way to the locker room, and decided to lie disabled, debating whether have sprained or twisted her ankle, until she was tired of waiting, got up, and resumed her treacherous walk back to the car.” The girl is determined to do something to make sure she is asked to explain herself to many people. Marc Jacobs does not know who I am. Marc Jacobs should know who I am. I will visit Missouri, Iowa, and San Francisco before I write the story. I will shop for a new suitcase as soon as the first line is penned. “Steve, her culprit in shining nighttime sunglasses, never came. He did not enter her car. Her room was not intruded upon when she returned with the useless book in her bag.” The culprit was not waiting in her closet, sniffing the necklines of her cardigans and merino wool pullovers.
      There is a reason criminals seem inhuman. Nothing makes more sense than for a criminal to be seen in prison. Nothing makes less sense than thinking that a child spent his whole life growing up to reach imprisonment unintentionally. Unsolicited captivity is confusing to us when it’s so easy to want it. Once I am older you will unthinkingly believe everything I tell you. “‘Colleen exhibited the lucidity common in many victims who are still in shock and called her mother,’ Chief of Security Randall Sewers explains. Colleen related the evening’s events, from the moment she left the dorm to the present, as she sat on her unruffled bed, her body unmaimed, her hands untied, the Pontiac’s trunk empty. Her mother started to cry out of despair.” The girl will call the police. The mother will call Channel Six to call the whole thing off, apologizing to her lover, the camera man, for her daughter’s mistake. I know why people have children. People have children so that they will make fame. Otherwise there is no point. The girl will lose her virginity enthusiastically while lost in a daydream about playing soccer in a packed stadium, illuminated in the midst of night. Nobody wants their child to be a criminal because then there is nothing satisfying about their sentence. A daughter’s marriage is the happiest event in a father’s life. Nobody wants to admit what is sexy about being a parent. It feels odd and natural to dream impersonal dreams. Ryan will be a selfish mother. To choose to be a mother is to desire expectant looks and a lingering hunger. Motherhood begins with desire; why did you think pregnant women are so noticeable, large, and ravenous as they wait for their children? To be a mother is to create someone who will take you away from your life as you know it. To be kidnapped is the Kleenex; to be taken is the tissue. People who can’t form sentences are pitied. The story will begin “Colleen Matthews was the kind of girl who wished everyone wished they knew better.”