Sep 15 • 1M

The Paragraph I Promised

when jealousy is hungry, jealousy must eat.

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Writer, photographer, and host, Nneka Julia, reads and responds to weekly letters written by strangers.
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Excerpt from Passing Through, Season 4 (and raw audio):

The shatter shot thunder through my spine. I glanced at my hands: trembling, flushed, pulsing with a violent power I never knew existed. I picked up the fractured black phone and threw it again and again and again until a thousand sharp veins spread violently across its screen.

God, it felt better than crying, better than shaking him awake and arguing the evidence, better than screaming until my voice grew hoarse, better than asking who the fuck Tasha was, and why he’d never mentioned her.

See, misery loves company, but jealousy works alone. It stalks its prey. Eating with its eyes, believing everything it sees. Oh, and it’s always hungry. Insatiable. Sucking marrow from the barest bones of betrayal. That night, it hovered over my shoulder, leaned in, pursed its lips to my ear, and whispered:

you’ve been good. In two years you’ve never gone through his phone. It’s curiosity and no more. If it’s nothing you’ll find nothing, but, don’t you think you deserve to know?

I grabbed the phone, flipped it over.

My heart raced.
Fingers typed the passcode.

Unlocked.
Home Screen.
Messages.

Nothing.

Names I recognized.
Friends.

Then…Flesh.

An unknown number.

I clicked.
Scrolled up.
Devoured.

And, mind you, it could’ve been a colleague, his friend who got a new number, a cousin.

It didn’t fuckin’ matter.

When jealousy is hungry, jealously must eat.


This series is about getting more comfortable with the never-ending, magically forgiving process of revision. In the words of Annie Dillard:s

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.

These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

Thank you for allowing me the space to share snippets of my manuscript and the forthcoming season of Passing Through The Podcast. I’m ecstatic to be recording again.
— Nneka