‘How to Give the Wrong Impression’ by Katherine Heiny

I adore this gorgeous, gorgeous story of a young woman secretly in love with her flatmate. Written in second person, it captures the torment and tenderness of longing in such a simple yet moving, and also funny but not too funny, way. Every now and again, while telling some sort of potentially humorous anecdote, like going to buy a bed with the flatmate (“This is a great activity for you, it’s almost like being engaged”) she lets slip these lines which are so beautiful and lovingly-written that I can’t help but feel my heart break a little. Like: “Wonder if you feel too comfortable with him to truly be in love. But then he licks the fudge off his thumb and smiles at you, his hair still ruffled from the wind outside. He is the love of your life, no question about it.” I mean: doesn’t it just do something to you? 

First published in the New Yorker, September 1992 and available to subscribers to read here. Collected in Single, Carefree, Mellow, Fourth Estate, 2015