I appreciate the hard work that went into this essay. It has many merits, but it also has something profoundly and disturbingly wrong with it. In fact, I’m writing this feedback on my phone, cowering in the bathtub with my wife, after your essay terrorized and nearly destroyed us.

Let me explain—

The essay was formatted correctly, and each sentence was more or less intelligible in itself. But altogether, the effect was—disorientation. Worse, actually. Pure senselessness. The Void.

I read the first paragraph three times and retained nothing (I mean, nothing at all)—but my tongue had suddenly gone numb? And that was only the introduction.

My wife Kate was watching Netflix on the other end of the sofa. “Read this,” I said and handed her the laptop. A minute later, Kate said, “There’s something very wrong with this essay.”

“Thank you,” I said. “The writing is fine, right? But also like—fucked up?”

“Reading it, it’s like… I’m drowning or something—”

“It made my tongue numb.”

“I’m shivering.”

In short, the body paragraphs of your essay suffused my entire home with an ambient, nightmarish anxiety.

“Okay, I’m scrolling to the conclusion,” Kate said. “Maybe I should try reading it aloud?”

I shrug like, Be my guest.

Seconds later, I’m explaining to Kate, calmly, so as not to freak her out, that her ears are bleeding—I mean, to be clear, your essay made dark, treacly blood leak from my wife’s ears.

But that’s not even the worst part. She hardly noticed the blood, because the screen on my laptop had started cycling through photographs from my old girlfriends—private photos—photos that I swear on my life I deleted when I started dating Kate.

So then Kate was, understandably, freaking out—about the old photos on my computer as much as the blood dripping from her ears. And I couldn’t really blame her for throwing my laptop across the room, where it settled in a cranny between the TV and the wall.

“Get that essay out of the house…now,” she hissed.

“Okay, okay,” I said, but she’d gone already—upstairs to get on the Peloton, meaning things between us were officially really bad. Meaning the conclusion of your essay may have ruined my marriage.

But before I dealt with that, I had to go pick up the laptop and dispose of the damn thing. Was I freaking out then? A little bit. Yes. But I persevered. I closed my eyes and reached for the laptop and—

When I came to, I was flat on my back in the living room. How long was I out? Can’t say. All the clocks were flashing as if the power went out. Also, my ears were now bleeding too.

And the laptop? Vanished. Worse, no sound was coming from upstairs—no peppy Peloton coach barking at my wife.

“Kate,” I screamed, sprinting upstairs, but she wasn’t there. I searched the whole house, screaming my head off, and at this point, I was very much convinced that your essay kidnapped my wife. I mean, I was about to call the police when—

I heard a whimper from the bathroom.

Inside, the mangled carcass of my laptop was strewn across the floor tiles, and Kate was curled up in the bathtub, crying.

“I did it,” she sobbed. “I killed it. I killed it.”

“You did it,” I said, climbing into the bathtub with her, holding my wife close. “It’s over. It’s all over now.”


Then she said, “It’s not over.”


“You still have to grade it.”