Infatuation Is a Four-Letter Word
By Amber N. Persaud
Content warning: violence associated with parasocial interactions
Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships where one person extends energy and time into another who cannot reciprocate it. Teenage Adam’s infatuation with celebrity Vanessa Thompson takes an eerie turn.
“—Adam? Can we talk, man? It’s important, and I’ve been needing to say it for a while,” Joseph shouted from the bottom of the carpeted stairs, slowly heading to the second floor. His heart was pounding.
He continued, “I know you don’t want to hear this, but I’m coming from a genuine place. I mean, this whole Thompson thing is getting out of hand, I’m concerned.”
In his room, Adam sat on the edge of his bed playing with the metal twine in his hands. He didn’t speak, breathing slow and precise, listening to the soft, almost indistinct footsteps approaching.
“I’m going to come out and say it, and I don’t want anything to change between us, bro.” Joseph teetered on the edge of the door, his foot just behind the baseboard.
Adam’s mind was racing. Joseph was here to take Vanessa away from him.
Vanessa Thompson was the epitome of his delusions. She was an enticingly beautiful actress with ringlets that lined her face and curves that mimicked an hourglass. His walls were lined with posters and paparazzi images of her; related paraphernalia scattered across his desk.
The door opened and Joseph opened his mouth to speak.
“I think I love you, like love you,” he said, and as he was about to finish speaking, he saw something in Adam’s eyes that made chills run down his spine.
Adam lunged at Joseph. Twine in hand, pressing so hard along his hands that his fingers turned white, and in a matter of seconds it was wrapped around Joseph’s neck.
Adam wrapped the twine around once, twice, three times and pulled in opposite directions as hard as he could. The veins surrounding Joseph’s neck began to bulge and he clawed at the skin along Adam’s arms. Adam’s grip tightened and the twine began to cut and slice through layers of tissue.
The room went black and when it all became clear again, Joseph was face up on the ground. Blood littered the floor. Adam stood above him, taking in the scene. It was almost as if he didn’t know Josephat all. He had no remorse for this stranger on the floor who had something tragic happen to him.
Adam spent no longer than half a minute staring at the now cold body. Instead, his gaze drifted to a poster on the wall. The face that once had a bright white smile on it, now conveyed an emotion that could only be described through screams. Vanessa had been backing up from the scene looking down in horror.
Adam dropped the twine and, as if it had randomly happened, he looked around with the same emotion as Vanessa. He dragged a bloodied hand through his blond locs, then looked to the poster.
“It’s okay, baby. He won’t be able to tear us apart anymore.” Adam trailed his eyes down along her curves, covered by her sequin dress. But when he brought them back up, she was a smiling, picture-perfect person again. In shock, he backed up, slightly stepping onto the arm of his mutilated best friend. He stared at Joseph’s face. Adam tilted his head as if he had discovered the secret to eternal youth. His gaze paced back and forth between the poster and Joseph. Every time his eyes darted back at Joseph, he began to eerily resemble Vanessa.
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First the nose, then the eyes, it was as if he wasn’t Joseph anymore.
“You’re here. This is it.”
Adam scattered around his room gathering items branded by Vanessa: foundation, chestnut concealer, orange blush…
With a grin the size of the moon, he bent down so that his breath was hitting Joseph’s cold temple.
“You just need a little bit of… tweaking.” He began to unscrew caps and popping open palettes.
He was carefully painting the face of his friend, sometimes taking short but critical looks at the poster above. A guideline.
Small grunts and whispers left his mouth, incoherent to anyone but him. He continued to make small changes.
After a few tedious minutes, Adam pulled back so that he was sitting on his knees and whispered, “perfect.”
He admired his sculpture. Adam could finally reciprocate the feeling Joseph had for him, now that he had his own personal Vanessa.
Seconds, minutes, maybe even hours passed before Adam felt a pair of eyes on him. Then he heard the breathing, and the whimpering.
His hand crept to the bed where the metal twine onced laced around Vanessa was. He turned his head slowly and calmly toward the sound to see a small figure in the doorway—his little sister Malia.
A small wave of relief washed over him, until he realized the look on her face was one of horror.
Malia teetered at the edge of the door, her foot behind the baseboard.
“It’s okay, Malia, don’t worry about her.”
Malia’s eyes welled up in tears. She opened her mouth to scream.
Adam had finally gotten Vanessa—he wasn’t about to let her get away. Not this time.
The metal twine in his hands was pressed so hard that his fingers began to turn white.
When I was in the 9th grade, my English teacher gave us this prompt: What comes to mind when you hear the word “overrated?” I took this as an opportunity to explore the world of parasocial relationships: one-sided relationships where one person expends emotional energy and time into another who cannot reciprocate it. This essay was the inspiration for the main characters Adam and Joseph. I wanted to capture the delusions and infatuation one can feel when they enter a parasocial relationship to this extent.
Amber N. Persaud is a resident of Brooklyn, NY. She is a sophomore in high school. When she graduates she hopes to attend Carnegie Mellon University or New York University and plans to major in Clinical Psychology/Pre-Law Studies. In her downtime, she enjoys reading, exploring and drinking way too much coffee.