He’s a spy, you have to understand he was only doing his job.

Nathan Masserang

I watch America’s Next Top Model with a friend who I am attracted to. He isn’t attracted to me, but we have seen each other naked, and that I guess means something. We start on a later cycle because neither of us have seen it. Eventually we move to the 17th cycle, the ‘All-Star’ season. I fold my hands in my lap until they are one eighth the size of what they were and my friend moves his legs to rest upon them.

It takes about a week for us to reach the finale, when Angelea, our favorite, is disqualified. The editing in the episode indicates that this was re-shot well after the final show. Alison accepts losing a second time with a painful faux-grace. Lisa has obviously fallen off the wagon. Angelea is absent, and we are devastated. I shift in my seat and want to know why they clearly stripped her of her title.

There is no information on the internet so we get jobs at the CW. I spend most of my time thinking about my friend and my job. All I want is love and money. It is a pleasant entry level position on the editorial team. I watch videos and sit in meetings describing the videos and how I would edit them. My friend is on the creative staff for a reality show. He writes lines of dialogue for plump fingered sixteen-year-olds. He doesn’t go to as many meetings as I do. Sometimes we meet for lunch and he tells me about his friends that he has now and I listen. He likes stories more when he has them in his hands and around his mouth.

I live in a one bedroom in Burbank now. My friend lives in the same apartment building as I do, and he visits sometimes. We see each other on dating apps, and he tells me that he is incapable of love anymore. His schedule is different than mine, but when we both are in early, I walk down the hall and knock on his door until he is on the bus with me. Sometimes someone new answers his door and there are three of us on the bus. Sometimes his hand rests on my thigh and sometimes my thigh isn’t there to rest.

I am working at the CW! I lied on my resume, but now I am here. I make a video promotion for next week’s episode of a new show: “Sad Island.” Basically there are sad people on an island and a mystery prize, which I haven’t even been told what it is. I don’t think there is a prize. I think sad people are on this island for us and not themselves. Tom and Brianna are both fed up with the pleasantries of Janice so they prank her with adverse consequences. I know that they all avoid eliminations. A former member of a boy band is the host, but I don’t remember his name.
I’m proud of my work.

My friend is promoted to head writer after six months in Burbank. He pens shows about teenagers falling in love. One night, we are watching TV in his apartment and he tells me about a character he developed that is based on me. He laughs when he shames her. My attraction makes me quiet and hurt. He curls his arm around my waist and kisses my neck.

It’s been two years. I now edit almost every show that the CW produces. My friend has several awards for his shows. We are #2 in ratings the last few sweeps. I no longer live in a one bedroom. My friend and I live down the block from one another. We have bought homes and have paid off our student loans. Our credit cards are consolidated. I’m looking at adopting a child. I eat dinner at fine restaurants and drink craft cocktails with important people. I own a car, and I have a driver. I had a personal assistant for a small moment. I pay my interns handsomely. Sometimes I summer in Crete. I briefly forget why I am working at the CW.

I call my friend and tell him that it is time. He is unsure as to what I am saying. I go to his house. He has several people over when I get there. I tell him that Monday is when we should do it. He slowly remembers and pulls me aside. He looks me in the eye and asks me if I really still want to go through with it.

I’m tired of waiting.
I’m tired of success.
I want to win a battle that doesn’t want to be fought.
I want to be the battle you are suffering.

We enter the offices after dark and tell security that we are going to finish up a project for next week. Instead of heading to our offices we walk into a large room of electronics and monitors. It is dark and colder than the hallway. My friend hovers over my shoulder and watches me type furiously into a computer. His breath is tantamount to something too intimate. I’m shaking and slightly calmed.

And when I find what I need, I open it, turn to look at my friend, and my eyes glow with a small amount of affection. I am where I wanted us to be years ago, but he is watching me get there from a distance having never made it there with me.

“America’s next top model all star is… Angelea!” The video sings to me and calls out from small speakers. My friend kisses me on the lips twice, quickly at first and then one slightly longer. He is not as happy as I am but he might be happier for me than he is for himself and us.

We both call in sick in the morning. We have a meeting with TMZ instead of work. I think, this is the coolest I have ever been, and slide the small jump drive across the table. We all watch with glee again and again and again. We leave TMZ with $150,000 each. It is the top story for one week. Our legal team has covered our tracks completely to prevent legal recourse. We silently quit our jobs. I go home and pass out, waking up two days later on my kitchen floor. I’m so tired. I’ve been tired for so long. I don’t know where my friend went. I want to know where he went ~25% of the time, but usually it is less.

I move to the east coast and invest in a condo on Long Island overlooking the ocean. Sometimes I see the beach. Sometimes, the fog is thick and I wish I could see farther.