S he thought she was marrying James Joyce. He told her, he persuaded her, he said he was James Joyce.
This was the kind of woman who loved her friends and yet secretly felt distinguished from them. She wanted to move up in the world, but in a way she felt was "up." She had written on her wall the summer before she met him, the summer before she married, in the tiniest of letters: "Real striving. Know your heart." She had studied literature for a semester and got good grades. Her mother was Irish. When she told her family she was marrying James Joyce, they didn't know who she was talking about. They nodded contentedly but without recognition. She didn't mind. She knew. She would take good care of him.
In this photo, she is lit with a certain light, the light of a woman who thinks that everything is perfect and is proceeding according to her deepest desires. He is shaded, living in his dark but happy secret. For a marriage, this is not necessarily a problem. Sometimes marriages work this way. By the time she finds out the truth, she will love him as he is. Their life together will be a happy one. A difficult year of adjustment, once she finds out, but fine after that. There are always illusions and illusions shattered in marriage.
Sheila Heti is the author of several books of fiction, including the novel How Should a Person Be? She lives in Toronto.