the writing disorder
the writing disorder logo


patricia sun

New Nonfiction


by Xijing "Patricia" Sun


      I started suffering from Stockholm syndrome since I first met him.
      I am obsessed with this man. He is a hypocrite, a bastard and a sadist. I knew it. I suppose I should hate him, but I can’t. In writing, it befalls me to remember what I expected in writing to forget, nonetheless I write in order to forget the pain and the anguish of love. And yet my detective nerve is out of my control. The more I know and write about him, the more hatred grows in me, the more I am addicted to him; my days and nights are filled with nothing but loving and hating him. His words and appearance strain my concentration every day and night. I love him for sure tonight, and yet I hate him at the blink of an eye.

      The disease has haunted me for more than a year. It’s too tough to bear it alone. I have asked my mentor for treatment. He is a psychologist and he does research on happiness. He must know how to cure my illness.
      It was a fickle spring night. We walked along 60th Street.
      “You’ve been doing research on happiness for years. So, tell me, why do people do things that produce less happiness than pain? Under what circumstances would people give up effortless and obvious happiness and pursue misery? Why does the prisoner fall in love with the captor?”
      He choked up.
      We walked in silence for a long time. Happiness is his field and he is a really great scholar and adviser. But he had choked up. Things were engraved in my mind that night - the dim moonlight, the swaying shadow, the moist spring breeze and the question with no answer.
      As my mentor, he eventually had to give me some words. “You are being too philosophical. Think scientifically and try to distract your attention to something else, like our research.”
      I listened to his dodging. Nighttime truly sharpens and heightens sensation. Something had happened to him, too, I could sense it. I am interested in doing research with him, but not as much as in his private life. My curiosity led me to dig up the truth. Sometimes gossip is worth its weight in gold. See, I almost forgot about what I was worrying about. My mental illness was eliminated for a moment. The treatment worked.
      I gathered more courage and asked him: “Could you tell me your story? Just a way to distract my attention from my own business.” What an excuse!

      I didn’t expect it to be a productive conversation at first. After all, why would a prestigious professor tell his private life to his student? But his confession was beyond my expectations.
      We had an appointment some days later in his office. That was at the end of the corridor, on the third floor. On the door was his name card, with all the big titles. It really felt like I was seeing a psychiatrist. I hoped he wouldn’t ask me for an hourly fee. His seat was in the front of a French window, directly facing the bell tower of the chapel. It was drizzling outside. He pulled the curtain and made a cup of hot chocolate for me. His glasses were covered with mist, “Girls love sweet drinks.” He passed the cup to my hand and pulled the chair out. “Take a seat,” he said.
      He happened to be playing the Brahms Piano Quartet No.3 In C, Op.60 in his office. It's my favorite piece, a piece written for Clara Schumann, Brahms’ lifelong love. He turned the music down a little bit, sat back, leaned in the chair and started to talk.
      “My parents told me that girls were evil when I was little.”
      “Why were they saying this to you?”
      “Just to protect me from being rejected by girls, I guess. It’s just like a vaccine injection to prevent me from feeling pain. They said girls possess you and then leave you as if they had never come. Anyway, I was not good-looking when I was young. Well, I am still not good-looking now. I stayed in my comfort zone and kept my distance from girls, thinking that they would never love or hurt me. But it turned out that I was lovable to girls, even when I was nobody.”
      True enough, he is still not good-looking. He is tall and looks pretty pale. Like all the fifty-year-olds, he has a beer gut and he is trying to get rid of it. “My secretary said I would look better if I lost some weight.” He is also extremely short sighted. He cannot even walk home alone in the night without a companion.
      “Do you still remember your first love?”
      “She was a friend of my family. We grew up together as children. She got married at twenty-three. I was seventeen, six years younger than her. The marriage was all made by her parents. Her husband was a Chinese who lived in the States. He was a businessman, and rich. This was a trend in China thirty years ago. She was one of the few who got the treasurable chance. Yes, she was married to a stranger, a rich and yet vulgar businessman. We both knew that she would be gone in a year. She came to my home twice a week. Actually I should say my room. We talked about classical music, poems and paintings. But no, we didn’t touch each other in the way you might think, but it felt like something had touched the deepest part of our souls. We were very much into each other. But it was clock-ticking love. I still remember our last night. We walked along the streets around my place, circle by circle, again and again.”
      I was picturing that scene — the dim light stretched their shadows forth and back; the shadows walked in parallel while the souls entwined together; the garish light of day eventually pierced the lovers’ hearts shortly after the night had reached the summit of its darkness. I had a similar night in my mind. It was still drizzling outside. The pavement shined like silver in the rain.
      “Did your parents say anything about your suspicious meeting?”
      “Mysteriously, they avoided mentioning anything about it. They never knocked on the door, even if we locked ourselves in my bedroom every time we were together. It has been an enigma.”
      Years later, he got married and moved to the U.S.
      “I was a PhD candidate at Yale. One day, I received a letter. It was from her. She said she wanted to visit me and she did. I invited her to stay in my house for a couple of days.”
      “What did she look like?” I was curious.
      “Well, a totally different person. I could still sense her charm, but it had almost gone away from her. She was smart and earned a lot of money from real estate. That’s probably the only thing she was proud of. She gave me a pure gold necklace as a present. Anyway, I haven't been able to find that gold necklace since she went back to California. It must have been thrown away by my wife.”
      “She said she wanted us to be the way we were before. But ... I rejected her. We met again some years later when I was giving a speech in Berkley. She drove a fancy car and visited me again. She had got divorced from her first husband and married a white man. She had become even richer. I had two kids. Then she left and we haven’t seen each other since. See how time kills and cures everything.”
      Time kills and cures everything. He said this as if it had happened in a previous life, as if his heart had been killed by the perpetual marching clock that had seized his teens. But it is not as he told it. His clock goes in a circle, hits the end and gets itself reset. Love is not that easily killed by time. I understand and I am experiencing it.
      “How are you these days?” He asked.
      “Not good. My heart is torn apart. I don’t know what kind of relationship we are in. We have a special bond in private, but keeps distance in public. He is opening his heart to me, yet it is full of thistles and thorns. I’m being stabbed when we are together, but thinking about leaving him just hurts me even more. That’s how I get repaid for my denying the morality. That’s fair.”
      “There is no such thing as fairness, not for all.”
      “I dare not to tell any of my friends about my falling in love with a married man. They are all being regulated by the temporary law of morality. I’d rather being judged or mocked by strangers than being sympathized by my friends. You are the only person I can share my feeling with.”
      “Well, shall I say thank you for not taking me as a friend?” He smiled. “I was in the same position when I was seventeen. I understand you.”
      “I’m glad you do.”

      I heard more of his romantic stories from one of his students, Eva. She had been studying under him for three years, much longer than I knew him. She was invited by him to Chicago for a month, as a visiting scholar. Actually, she is not a scholar, but just a graduating student. What a free graduation trip!
      It was already 11:00 a.m. and I almost forgot that I had invited her to my apartment. I overslept. I opened the door and invited her in. She has been waiting in a bright red one-piece for ten minutes. I was in my blue pajama and in bed for ten hours.
      She took a seat in the sofa and started to preach, like an elder sister.
      “I know him quite well. Let me tell you something about him. I’m not telling rumors or intimidating you, but just bear in mind that don’t get too close to him. You definitely don’t want to be one of them, right?”
      “Tell me about them.”
      “Well, do you know once he had an affair with his cousin-in-law, his wife’s younger cousin? It lasted for a couple of weeks until his wife noticed it during the family gathering. His wife wept in bed. They broke up. I mean, he and his cousin-in-law.”
      “Poor wife.” I said.
      “I know his wife. She is five years younger than him. They married at a young age. They have two kids, one girl of seventeen and one boy of twelve. The daughter studies in Chicago and their son is educated in Shanghai. So they live separately to take care of their children. It’s a kind of fashion — live apart together. Is their separation a cause or an outcome of their relationship? I don’t know. I dare not to ask him. I am wondering who is his lover now. There must be someone. He is never lacking for women, young women in their twenties...”
      “I would divorce him if I were his wife. Does she really know what has been going on? Does she know about him?” I asked.
      “Of course she knows his affairs. He is charming and talented. Women love him. But she chooses to keep silent. It’s wise for her to endure it and keep silent. It’s her fate. One cannot have an attractive and faithful husband, just like one cannot be experienced and young. That’s the law of fairness. She should treasure what life has offered her - a charming husband, a versatile daughter, a clever boy, a decent job and a house in Chicago. ”
      “What does she do?”
      “She is a secretary in Uchicago.”
      “His secretary?”
      “No, but in the same school he works for. She works for the dean. You see what I mean? She should be thankful for having such a decent job.”
      “So you mean, if you were her, you would be satisfied with life?” I asked.
      “It’s none of my business. Anyway, don’t gossip with the others.” She blinked her eyes, squeezed a smile and changed the topic. “Well, how are you recently?”
      How am I recently? Frankly, I’m not good. I need to make a confession, really. I’m more and more addicted with him and he is not rejecting me. I engage myself in the damp of love, deeper than I had expected and stickier than what I had just heard. But how could I tell the others? My heart is full of anguish, but my mouth was filled with silt.
      “I’m good.” I said.

      The cousin-in-law is just one of his affairs. He told me more since then. But why? Why is he telling me this? Such an idea is flicked away and soon replaced by others. Obviously, I am more and more obsessed with the women he is addicted to. Who are they? What happened? How did things begin and end?
      There was a young lady he accosted at the airport some years later. Slim, long hair, elegant. She died at a very young age because of cancer. Their last date was in the hospital. She was pale and bald.
      There was a student who lived in the same building that I'm living in. “Two floors under your place.” he told me. She was just married and had an infant. She walked him to his office after the first class and made the first move. He didn’t reject her. She glanced around the room and said, “Professor, your wife must be very busy, otherwise your office would be less messy.” She started to clean up his files neither with permission nor rejection. Then they started to date, usually in his office. She worked as if she was his secretary from then on. But then he had to go back to China for half a year. She asked him to stay but this time he rejected her.
      There was a student he met in Shanghai. She was smart, beautiful, and full of flair. They talked about research. She inspired him a lot. She was a flirt, greater than him. She seduced him in his office, explicitly.
      “I didn’t sleep with her.” He said.
      “Which one?” I asked.
      See, one period of love was killed by time, yet it's reborn in a different shape and possesses you and the next person you love, time and time again, one after another. There must be someone who is holding this sacred yet wounded wand of love. She is being scorched and scaled by its burning fervency, just like me.

      “He is abstinent, I mean physically, right?” I asked Eva.
      “Ridiculous.” She scorned.
      “He is not taking advantage of young women. He loves their souls, not just their bodies.”
      “Souls? How can you be sure?”
      “It pains him too. I can see all the sadness in his eyes when he was telling me about it.”
      She paused a little bit and swallowed some words with a sip of water. “Okay, I don’t know much about him, not as much as you do.”
      The air was freezing until I warmed it up with some words. “I don’t know about him either. I’m just saying it. Don’t take it seriously. Just put him aside. I really need to think about the research program. He is being harsh with me. Can you help me with that?”
      “Or maybe you are right. You know, his Singapore colleague is willing to sleep with him whenever he wants. He flirts a lot but he never asks her for service because he thinks she is too frivolous. If abstinence means flirting with women but not having sex with them, then I agree with your judgment on him.”
      “He is teasing them one after another and he never gets bored. What a professor!”
      “Remember that he is a man, more than a professor.”
      “Shall we talk about the research program now?”

      The research program is called “the creation of desire.” He thinks that society is so developed that our basic desires are too easy to satisfy. “But if new desires can be created and then be fulfilled, the amount of happiness would increase. Let’s create some desires and happiness.” He invited Eva and me to his house to talk about the creation of desire some days later.
      His house was not as luxurious as I thought it would be, but there were paintings everywhere, hanging on the wall, spreading on the floor and stacked in the corners. There's one painting leaning on the wall near the fireplace of the dining room. It's a portrait of a woman in watercolor. She gazes softly but directly toward me. She seems omniscient and yet ignorant. She must have been here for years. Who granted her life? Is she satisfied with her place? Does she feel unhappy that no one introduces her to us? Or does she feel comfortable to be exposed to us? What if she hopes that she could be drawn in with closed eyes?
      “What’s your idea?” he interrupted my daydreaming.
      “The creation of desire, you mean like foreplay?” I woke up with words jumping out of my mouth.
      “Perfect example.” He smiled.
      “But what if such desire turns into an endless fatal lust? An immoral desire that can never be fulfilled?”
      “It’s a sweet intoxication. Just swallow the sweet pain.”
      “What a way of self-deception.”
      “Hey, don’t take it personally.” Eva gave me a hint eye and whispered.
      “It seems that you have a better way? Then tell us, maybe it’s a good research idea.” He said.
      “Why not just kill the desire? Human beings are not without desires, but full of them. Unreachable and unnecessary desires. Men desire women, the more the better. Women desire exclusive love, the purer the better. Men can never be satisfied with women and women can never be satisfied with love. More desire, more mess. Hell is other people? No. Hell is men! Why don’t we just start another project and name it The Extermination of Desire?”
      “There, there. You need some drinks.” Evs walked to the kitchen and back with two cups of hot chocolate, one for me and one for herself.
      “What will you do if you know you may get hurt by love? Will you embrace it or resist it?” he asked.
      “Why are you asking me this?”
      “Just help you to clarify your mind. It’s a part of the treatment.”
      “If I could resist, then I am not that into him.”
      “Your lover is such a lucky man. I envy him.”
      “But I hate him. I am a victim of Stockholm syndrome and he knew it. He is taking advantage of my addiction and teasing me.”

      Eva has blocked contact with me since.
      I went to the chapel the next morning. Look at these faithfuls, they confess, pray and sing, trying all the way to be tamed into conformists. But you see, how happy and fulfilled they are. None of God’s disciples ask for God’s exclusive love. They love their God and they love each other. Isn’t God the greatest lover? But why does he abandon me and push me into the arms of the demon? Am I being neglected by him? Or does he do this on purpose? I have been drifted far away from where I was. My heart is decayed with desire. I am intoxicated with my dear demon. I can feel him right now. He is standing by the window and watching me being denied by God. He is the only one that embraces my freak addiction. My heart was together with him in the dungeon. I went out of the chapel, crossed the street and walked right away to his office.

“I lied to you.”
                                                                               “What were you lying to me?”
“I cried yesterday.”
                                                                               “What happened?”
“I feel sad and guilty.”
                                                                               “Love cannot be wrong and should not be censured.”
“Do you cry?”
                                                                               “No, not any more.”
“You are immune to pain.”
                                                                               “I feel sad and I do that on my inside.”
“What do you feel sad for?”
                                                                               “I opened the Pandora’s box at a young age.”
“I’m following your step.”
                                                                               “You are way much better than me.”
“I know. I’m still young.”
                                                                               “And your gender is better than mine.”
“I agree, men are dirty.”
                                                                               “That’s why I love girls.”
“How many girls have you loved?”
                                                                               “Less than the number of girls who loved me.”
“Am I one of them?”
                                                                               “You are special.”
“Do you still love your wife?”
                                                                               “I love her as a family member.”
“Do you feel guilty?”
“Why not?”
                                                                               “I’m not cheating on you.”
“Are you a good guy?”
“Am I a good girl?”
                                                                               “Let’s wait and see.”

      “Who are they?”
      They are the woman in the portrait. They are young, smart and fervent. They are his students, his passers-by and his cousin-in-laws. They meet him randomly in class, on the street and at the airport. They date him in his office and house, on buses and flights and at the restaurants and hotels. They talk about research, listen to Brahms and his romantic stories. They are all special. Angelia, Christina, Jane, Elaine, Sarah, Eva and Georgina ... A Part of them is Maria. Another part is Delilah.
      “Who is he?”
      He is a genius and bastard, a valentine and betrayer, an angel and phantom, a psychologist and psychopath, a god and demon. He is being loved and hated, admired and disdained. He is looked up to on stage and looked down to in bed.
      “Who am I?”
      I am an audience obsessed with his live show. I stand up, leave the seat, walk directly to the stage and sit at the edge of it by the ruby velvet curtains. I am one of the actresses, acting an outsider.

      I love him for sure tonight, and yet I hate him at a blink of an eye. His words and appearance stirs my concentration every day and night. The more I know and write about him, the more hatred grows in me, and the more I am addicted to him, for my days and nights are filled with nothing but loving and hating him. And yet my detective nerve is out of my control. In writing it befalls me to remember what I expected in writing to forget, but I write in order to forget the pain and the anguish of love. I suppose I should hate him, but I can’t. I knew it. He is a hypocrite, bastard and sadist. I am obsessed with this man.
      I started suffering from Stockholm syndrome since I met him.

Xijing "Patricia" Sun recently received her MFA in Communication and Media Studies from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. She studied at the University of Chicago in 2013 and picked up a knack for writing during her time there. She usually writes in Chinese and this is her first attempt at writing a story in English. She is currently working in public relationship in Shanghai. Besides, she is a percussionist at Shanghai City Symphony Orchestra. You can contact her on Facebook at Patricia Sun, or at

COMMENT        HOME       BLOG


More Nonfiction

Musician &
Author of Rye

Xijing "Patricia" Sun

Margaret Ackerman

Christine Barcellona

J.C. Elkin's
Juliana Woodhead

Richard Powers' ORFEO
Sarah Sarai


By accessing this site, you accept these Terms and Conditions.
Copyright © 2010-2014 ™ — All rights reserved