Dear Tommy: A Short Story

Dear Tommy,

 

It was the summer I wanted to be Hunter Thompson and Tommy got pretty serious with coke. An abusive relationship, he called it. But I never knew who was abusing whom.

It was the summer before college, when drug people were my people. There was this sense we were floating on the same ocean, and everyone else was bustling about on the shore. We could speak to the land dwellers. We could text them, even. But they didn’t feel the vibrations. They weren’t dizzy the way we were dizzy. They weren’t riding the waves, man. 

 

Sweet little Leila caught ADD and we had adderol. We sliced open her pills, crushed the granules and drew lines on Tommy’s cell phone. Leila got first whiff, being the supplier and all. From then on, she was good people. Sweet little Leila grew her brown hair long and pierced her eyebrow. She belonged to it.

We got creative with our addictions. A little of yours, a little of mine, and a little of the stuff nobody should want. We felt like chemists. One line adderol, plus two powder, plus a shot of whatever was around, plus gum that shit and you had a hell of a high. 

It was a hell of summer. I fancied myself a radical. We thought Baltimore was above the influence. Above weed and free love. High, up on a whole other level. I wrote pages and pages about American swine and the uselessness of breathing. Stories that began in Congress and ended in Pizza Hut. Or, more often, didn’t end at all.

 

One night we’re smoking something or other on my porch and Tommy asks what I write about, anyway. He’s leaning against the side of my house, picking at the peeling white paint mindlessly. Lost in it. I can still see him. Deep brown eyes staring off under overgrown dirty blond hair. Strong jaw jutting out, but still tucked away somehow, like he didn’t want to seem too defined. Lips just a little parted, enough to look ready for action but not committed.

“I don’t know.” I say. 

“No, really,” he takes a swig of the cheap Chardonnay we were into back then. “Tell me a story.” 

There’s this twinkle in his eyes, like he’s hungry. Curtis, another guy who belonged to it, nods his head and makes out some kind of encouraging words. He’s a big lumbering guy, with dark frizzy hair that stands up straight, like its been electrocuted.  Even crouched down on the porch, he looks too large. Awkward, like he’s on the wrong planet. I guess we all related to that. I shrug and hit the bowl. 

“Well, there’s this one about this guy,” I hit again. “Buck.”

“I like that name,” Curtis says.

“Let her tell the story,” Tommy whispers harshly. 

“Well,” I start. “Buck’s this circus guy, right. He cuts things, like metal, with, like, rusty scissors.”

Time’s a funny thing for drug people. It’s fast and slow; tides coming in and going out on top of each other, with the force of a monsoon and the size of a ripple after a small pebble falls through the surface of a pond. Sometimes we talked for hours and sometimes just seconds, but it all passed the same. That night, I may have discussed Buck on end or I may have mentioned him. I’ll never know.

“And this circus performer,” I continue. “He lives in this dystopia where Fox News runs the world.”

We laugh. 

“And he decides that the world has gone to shit. And, like, everybody’s got this pain balled up under their ribcages. And so he goes on this journey to find God and the source of pain–the reason it all is the way it is and not better.” I shove my head into my hands. “I don’t know. It’s stupid.”

“Naw, man.” Curtis furrows his eyebrows. “Deep.”

Tommy boots. Dark red with green chunks and a dank, acidic smell. We watch and wait. He finishes.

“Man.” Curtis hits.

“Sorry. Shouldn’t have railed that addie.” Tommy’s eyes are bloodshot, rimmed with red. He looks like a drug addict. It occurs to me he is. We all are. Grunge. Alternative. Kids without a cause–both genesis and crusade. Hell, I wasn’t even sure if we were breathing. Or, for that matter, if we should have been breathing.

“Don’t sweat it.” I shrug. “The dogs will clean it up tomorrow.”

The next morning I let the dogs out and the evidence is gone as easy as eating breakfast. 

 

I always wondered if my father knew. I like to think he didn’t. I like to think he worked long, hard hours as the Red Ginger line cook. I like to think that it tired out his eyes and dulled his mind, so that by the time he stumbled in and dropped down on his bed, he couldn’t figure me out. I like to believe all that so I don’t have to believe he knew and did nothing for me. That he never asked where I was or who with because he never suspected it was all wrong. I like to believe my father was as good a father as circumstances allowed, even if he wasn’t a good father. He’s all the family I have and that means something to me. I loved my father. Of that, I was almost sure.

 

It was the summer we didn’t go places, we showed up. Popped up, out of whatever oblivion we came from. A puff of magic smoke and there we were, sloppy and flopping about–fish out of water. We weren’t land dwellers and when we came to shore, we tried to bring the waves with us. 

So one day or night we show up at Curtis’s place. It’s the kind of decorated formstone row house that line the city streets. Muted purple paint with green trimming and a busted second story left window covered by fraying duct tape. Flanked by identical abandoned shitholes, barely boarded up and home to faceless spotters and rats. A black magic type dream catcher hanging over the door next to an ivory cross. We mixed more than drugs, in those days.

Tommy, Leila and I stumble out of whatever bus got us there and skip down the street, up the uneven concrete stoop steps. We bang on the wooden door–short staccato raps that sound like rhythm to us. 

Curtis answers. He’s wearing black boxers that are too tight and a grey wife beater, with a red stain over his right nipple. Funny, the things you remember.

He stands in the doorway, eyes a hazy shade of half-shut.

“What?” He mumbles, lips barely moving. 

“We came here,” Leila begins, before looking at me inquisitively, “for a reason.”

Suddenly, we can’t remember.

“Come chill with us,” Tommy flashes a stupid smile and puts two thumbs up. 

I chime in, “We’ve got shrooms.”

Leila’s gone silent on us. Shrooms. Pesky things. Sometimes you’re so in it, you can’t escape. And sometimes you’re under water and nothing’s really happening down there. 

“We’ve got shrooms,” I repeat, maybe once, maybe more.

Tommy nods enthusiastically. Curtis just blinks.

“Naw, I’m good.” Real drug people never say no. We’re lost for a moment, but we recover. 

“But, why not?” Tommy asks, stupid smile morphed into a drooping jaw and wide eyes.

“I’m quitting.”

I’m silenced.

“Quitting what?” Tommy asks.

“Everything.” Curtis’s face doesn’t move. “I’m done.”

Leila sits down on the stoop and buries her head in her knees. Tommy gets angry fast.

“You fucking scab. Turncoat traitor.” Angry drug people are unpredictable. Rage can turn violent, or dissolve. Sometimes it fizzles. Sometimes it fans. When you’re living so close to suicide, it doesn’t seem strange to be irrational. Hell, life is irrational. And in the words of Kurt Vonnegut, we didn’t ask to be born in the first place. 

Tommy punches the wall with his fist. Nobody flinches. We’re far beyond that. His outburst leaves a blot of red blood on the flaking purple paint. 

“Chill, man,” Curtis says.

“Bullshit you’re quitting.” Tommy breaks out into manic laughter. “Bull. Shit.” He’s howling like a hyena. He doubles over and tugs at his hair with both hands, blood dripping from his slashed knuckles. “You can’t counter counterculture. It’ll beat the shit out of your fat ass.”

He’s in an uproar.

“Keep it down, man. I’ve got neighbors,” Curtis says. He turns to me. “I keep shaking.”

I look him up and down. Tommy’s still shrieking, but I can’t hear it anymore. 

“You don’t look like you’re shaking,” I retort in a voice that doesn’t sound like mine. It’s high pitched, almost childish. It sounds like I’m begging him to not be shaking. It sounds like I’m shaking.

“I had to drink a little to get to sleep.” He clears his throat. “Whisky helps it.”

Tommy shrinks into a ball next to Leila, clutching his knees to his neck and humming. His face is bright red and blue veins push through his temples. 

“You should get clean,” Curtis says to me. “I don’t get why we turned to it in the first place, really.”

Neither did I, but I don’t say so. I pull my kids down the stoop and we get home somehow. But as the purple line clanks away down the block, I look back and watch Curtis standing in the door through the dirt caked window, his eyes still half shut, and I think I see him shaking. But I dismiss it–probably just the bus vibrations. 

 

We had chemical imbalances to begin with. They gave us drugs to right us, and when the serotonin and dopamine in their prescriptions wasn’t enough, we got our kicks elsewhere. We grew up in a place where the American dream waned and the people were left behind. This wasn’t charm city, but a confused conglomerate attempting to resurrect the dream that was. And when they couldn’t, there was always a different dream calling from the shadows, lurking behind the construction sites and grant money that never went to where it should. The city had chemical imbalances to begin with. We righted ourselves because we couldn’t right the streets. And who could blame us for that?

 

One night I found myself sucking Tommy’s dick behind the concrete ruins of one of Baltimore’s industrial era masterpieces. The kind of place that used to bustle, and now just sits there for kids to graffiti and bums to pee on. I’m not sure why it happened there, or how, but we both knew it would someday. I guess that moment felt as good as we supposed any other would. 

He finishes and I get up off my knees, wiping my mouth with my shirt. It’s dark and we’re coked out. Jitters. Heart beating fast. Feverish. Unsure if it’s happening, or just dream. Still, unsure.

We stand there, Tommy’s pants wrapped around his feet. I can’t stop swaying back and forth, but I think it’s in my head. Tommy doesn’t seem to notice. I sniff and smell chemicals and harbor winds. Cum and blood. My nose is bleeding.

Tommy jerks his hand towards my face and I flinch, but he’s just wiping the blood away. 

“It hurts,” I whisper.

“Just a dream within a dream,” he whispers back, an allusion to something we read a long time ago. 

“I’m in the red,” I stutter hoarsely, breathing uneven. “We’re in the red, you know.”

He nods. We lock eyes.

“I love you,” He mouths, barely audible.

I don’t love him. I don’t know if love is even real. Sometimes I think it’s just some great conspiracy used by the poets to sell books. I wasn’t radical. I was broken.

“Do you really believe that?” I ask. 

Tears drip from his eyes, staggered. He’s not crying, so much as dripping. It occurs to me that that’s what we’re doing: dripping. Dripping into waves. Into nothing.  Ruins that bustle no more. And the vibrations are an illusion. Hollow.

“No.” His eyes look through me. “No, but I wish I did.”

 

It’s a thing rare to get straight in this town. For most, the old factories that frame the city mutate into concrete catacombs, where the ghost of the great American dream mingles with the souls of people who died belonging to it. People who died because they belonged to it. 

Leila straightened out, but we all knew she would. She was a swimmer, even if she did belong to it. Swimmers are a slippery bunch. You can count on them to dive to shore when the sharks come around. She was in it for the thrill, for bucking her parents, for doing something stupid the summer before college. She joined a sorority and learned to do coke socially. She drifted to shore, and I doubt she’s looked back with anything but amused nonchalance. 

Curtis went on to work at the same manufacturing plant his father did. I hear he’s something of an alcoholic, but in an acceptable way. A few beers every night with the boys and then home to the girlfriend and son, who will grow up, experiment with drugs, and work at the same manufacturing plant someday if it stays open. If not, he’ll find another one just like it. That’s American engineering at its best. 

Leila and Curtis weren’t like me and Tommy. We were doomed by the drugs inside us, by the feelings that stirred and twisted and tortured us. We did drugs to keep from killing ourselves some other terrible way. But it doesn’t really matter, why I was the way I was, or Tommy, or Leila, or Curtis. We spent that summer together in the red, on the waves. And that’s got to mean something. God, I hope it means something.

Tommy moved to California that Fall and I haven’t heard from him since. Sometimes I look for him on my computer keyboard. I search for his face in the blank documents on my screen. I write about lost men, looking for answers in places that don’t have them. Sometimes I think I find him in sentences about longing and apathy, but then I lose him. A fleeting silhouette of the boy I once knew, I love him now more than I thought I ever could. And for that, I hope he’s dead somewhere, because wherever he is, he’s not clean. 

Then there’s me. I went to college and my father kept on pretending everything was alright, but it wasn’t. I wasn’t alright. One morning I woke up and felt done in. Beaten. Bushwhacked by my intolerable habit of breathing. So I did something about it. But that something didn’t work and when I woke up I was told I could make myself a better life. Put a little polish on the old breathing act. 

So, I did. And I shook like Curtis. And I booted like Tommy. And I went silent like Leila. And I found clarity, and all of that. And it hurt, and it still does, and sometimes I wonder if it’s better this way. There’s a song by Bright Eyes about drugs. I think about it a lot. 

 

I wouldn’t recommend it

But it is one way to live.

Cause what is so simple by the moonlight

By the morning never is.

 

He’s strumming my soul right there. In the words of Billy Joel, another poet, And so it goes, and Tommy, you’re the only one who knows. I thank you for understanding, even if this whole nostalgic explanation makes no sense at all. Knowing you existed, that another person on this planet has felt the red dizzy them up and take hold, makes it so much better. Thank you, Tommy. That’s what I want to say. That’s all.

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Letter I CAN’T Send to My Lost Younger Sister: Too Real Life

Well, I think it’s about that time again—that time when the wannabe writer steps away from fiction and says something personal. Not that all writing isn’t personal or true or real. Yes, yes—I know it is, calm yourself. But, there are moments when you write too honestly. When you don’t let yourself hide behind fiction because the words hit too close to home. I’ve been too honest twice on my blog so far in regards to my [relationship? with] my estranged father. See here and here to get some background. And now, just as confused as ever, I’m doing it again. Catharsis. Coping. Looking for answers in the blank spaces of a Word document. Etc. Thanks to all who have commented on past posts with advice and commiseration  It’s meant the world. Really.

But I don’t want to write him another letter. We’ve been emailing and he’s been nice enough about it all. I’m done pouring my heart out to him. He wants to be in my life—fine. Welcome to the party. It’s a pretty normal situation. Enjoy.

No, I don’t want to write him any more letters. I got it out of my system and I’m already bored with the results. Today, I write the first of two letters. One for each sister I haven’t seen in 10 years because of circumstances none of us understood or could control. Today, I write a letter to my sister, out there in the universe somewhere, whom we will call Lilly.

 

Dear Lilly,

 

            Let me begin by saying what I’ve wanted to say for ten very long years: I love you. I have always loved you. I will always love you. I remember you. I remember being your sister, and although you were very young, I will always remember being your sister.

But the only thing I can do is remember. I don’t know you. All I know is my memories of a smiley, vivacious little girl that danced around and laughed with her head thrown back. So, maybe I only love the memory of you. But believe me when I say that I love that memory. And that love is strong enough for me to want to know the woman you’ve become.

It’s possible you blame me for not being in your life. I could justify everything—tell you the story as I know it. But maybe the version I know isn’t right. It was complicated. Everyone made mistakes. I don’t want to put blame on anyone. I’ve grown up looking at everyone in my life with mistrust and I don’t want you to do that. They aren’t bad people. Some of them made mistakes, but your father and mother love you and are good to you. I don’t want you to think that what happened with me has any bearing on their relationship with you. I want you to love them. I didn’t get a relationship with our father for a lot of reasons, but I want you to have what I didn’t. All I will say is that I was twelve years old and I didn’t want to lose you. Not having you in my life has been the most difficult part of the last ten years.

But now, you are 16. Our father has contacted me, attempting to rebuild a relationship. I have accepted this proposal with some reservation. I’ve always said I would do anything to see you again, the innocent in this whole fuckup of a situation. But my feelings toward him have made me think about your feelings. I always assumed our reunion someday off in a sunrise of the future would be heartfelt and tearful and happy—we’d embrace with joy and lament the way life fucked us over. But maybe it can’t be that way. Maybe that vision was a dream I held onto to cope with the loss. It’s been ten years. That’s a damn long time. Maybe the possibility of that dream coming true has decreased with every year as we each grew older, apart.

The same obstacle that discourages me from feeling a strong residual connection to my father will factor into any possible relationship I build with you now: 10 years. Enough years for you, a 6 years old girl in my memories, to grow up and become a whole person with a whole world that I know nothing about. You have boyfriends, tv shows, ambitions, quirks that I’ve missed developing. And no, that doesn’t mean we can never be close. But the truth is that I wasn’t there for the informative years. I’ll never really be a sister, in so far as that one of the most defining aspects of a sister is a shared childhood. And while we have the first 6 years of your life, and we have pictures of me holding you as an infant, smiling in the hospital—we don’t have 10 big years. And that’s scary. In the same way I’m sure my father is terrified when he thinks about me.

I’ve clung to the idea that you were this innocent, hurt by the pettiness of those around you. But, I have to face the fact that I was twelve and you were six. I was old enough for it to change my entire life and maybe—just maybe—you were young enough to forget I ever existed. I’m torn here. I truly hope you don’t remember crying every time I left you. I hope you don’t remember crying the last time we spoke, because you hadn’t seen your sissy in so long. I hope it didn’t hurt you as much as it hurt me, because it really hurt me. But at the same time, I hope to god you do remember. I may be a terrible person for it, but I want you to love the memory of me even a fraction of the amount I love the memory of you.

I’m terrified to see you again. I’m not afraid you’ll be angry—I know I’ll convince you that I did all I could to be in your life. I’m not afraid you’ll be upset—I’ll be an emotional wreck myself. I’m afraid you’re going to look at me the same way I look at our father—uninterested. That terrifies me. That’s the scenario I never imagined, even in my worst nightmares. It just may well hurt more than losing you and dad and our other sister, and your mother, and our whole shared family and life ten long years ago. It just may well kill me.

            So, we’re at a crossroad. I want to be in your life, but I don’t know what your life is. I want to love you, to be able to say it and mean it, but I don’t know you anymore. I want for you to feel something toward me. You are 16 and the world still has so much for you. I want above all for you to have a great life. A life that isn’t touched by all this bullshit like mine has been. Maybe I’m only martyring myself because I’m afraid. The real reason I won’t send you this letter is because I’m afraid you won’t answer it.

 

Please write to me if you’re out there, still loving the memory of me.

 

Love,

Emily 

 

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A letter I won’t send to my estranged father: Real Life

This isn’t fiction. It isn’t a short story. It’s part of that honesty thing a few commendable people do on the internet. I know it’s my 3rd post today, but I’m getting more and more views  and I’m feeling a sense of community in this strange, modern blogosphere universe. I have my own community in the third dimension–I have fabulous family and friends, but they don’t understand. Maybe one of you strangers out there on your laptops and tablets will. I think it’s one of those situations you can’t understand unless you’re stuck living it…

 

When I was twelve and my father dramatically exited my life, my mother recommended I write him letters. Sure, he would never read them. I had no address, even if I did get up the courage. But maybe that was point—to write freely without any repercussions. I could say exactly what I needed to and wanted to, for me and only me. I got myself some of that elusive ‘closure’ through one-sided conversations with the keyboard of my desktop computer. And I grew up. And my life changed. And I got my own problems. And he wasn’t really one of them anymore. I stopped caring enough to write him letters years ago.

 

And now, for whatever reason, he’s back. It’s not letters I’m writing anymore. It’s emails. And it’s not a keyboard I’m chatting with. It’s him—the real him. And the irony is that after all these years of practically writing dissertations on his flawed character, I don’t know a thing about him. And I don’t really want to.

 

So, this is the email to my father I won’t send. This is the email I want to send. Soon I’ll post the email I do send. After I send it. If I send it. If you can relate to this, please comment. I’ve never shared real feelings about my father before. I haven’t wanted to in years. Blogging seems like a good way to do this. Strangers in the mist, coming together under topic headings: humor, creative writing, news, estranged fathers, etc. If I can’t send it to him, at least someone will understand. And even if no one reads it, I’ll sleep better knowing I did something. Anything.

 

 

 

Dear [I still don’t know what to call him],

 

I’m sorry I haven’t emailed you back in a month. My life has been complicated recently. My dog died and my aunt was diagnosed with cancer. My boyfriend and I also broke up, but I wasn’t bent out of shape or anything. I miss his car more than I miss him.

 

But those are just excuses, so I feel that I owe you a real explanation. Or, I guess, I want to give you a real explanation. My friends say I don’t owe you anything, but I don’t buy that. You’re not a bad person. It’s taken me ten years to acknowledge it, but I always knew. Most fathers who abandon their kids aren’t. Not really. You never set out to be that guy. I know that. Just a bunch of unforeseeable circumstances and situations that amount to a bunch of unforgiveable excuses. But your motivations don’t change anything. You aren’t a bad person, but you were bad to me. And that should mean something.

 

When we first talked, I told you I was open to this. And I meant it. I’ve tried to explain my emotions to friends to no success. It’s been some ten years since we stopped talking and I was very young at the time. Sure, it changed me. I grew up a little faster. I cried a lot more. I went from having two families to one and not a day has gone by that I didn’t miss my sisters, who were never ‘half’ or ‘step’ as much as ‘mine.’

 

But still. Ten years is a long time, even longer for a teenager. I dedicated a lot of time to obsessing over it all. Trying to figure why everyone did what they did. How it all happened. I know you have your opinions and I’m sure you’d love to justify yourself. Don’t bother. It’s irrelevant now.

 

Part of my obsession was imaging how I’d react if I ever saw you again. I knew every scenario. Planned for everything you would say. Sometimes I would publically shame you. Sometimes we’d end up best friends, you walking me down the aisle at my wedding. Sometimes I would act aloof, show you just how much I overcame the obstacles you put in my childhood. And then, one day, I came to the realization I might never see you again. I might have these conversations with your gravestone. And after more time, I was okay with that. Even more time passed. I grew up. And I stopped thinking about you at all.

 

The day my grandparents called me was very emotional. I was still in high school and immature. I didn’t know why your parents, who had stopped speaking to me on your request, were trying to revive such a painful relationship. But my mother convinced me it was the right thing to do. They seemed like they were dying, anyhow. I felt obligated. That sounds harsh, but it’s true.

 

Five years into a copy and paste relationship with them, they handed me a cell phone with you on the other end. The unexpected moment came and an unexpected emotion came with it—apathy. I felt nothing. No anger. No fear. No pain. You were a stranger. Disconnected from whatever residual emotions I feel for my adolescent experience.

 

I never understood the inclination for an abandoned child not to speak with a relative later in life. Not really. I know people like this. Estranged parents call, half siblings send messages on facebook, a grandparents shows up at the door. I know people who have sent their relatives packing and I thought I understood it. I thought it was like the Lifetime movies: all sappy emotion and soggy tears. I felt superior to those people. Of course I could handle my father reentering my life. I’d give him shit, obviously, but I made my own closure. No sappy emotion or soggy tears here.

 

But I was wrong. It’s not a Lifetime movie at all. The orchestra doesn’t swell and the rain doesn’t pour. I did make my own closure. I made it years ago through telling myself over and over again I could do it without. And then I did do it without you. And it stopped being that I did it without you. It was just that I did it.

 

I also always said I’d let you back in my life in the hopes of seeing my sisters again. That was always the goal. They were the true innocents in it all, too young to even know that I wasn’t at Hogwarts. I’m sure one day they grew old enough to ask what really happened to me. I’m unsure if I want to know what you told them.

 

Is that my goal now? Maybe. But they’ve grown up too. They have lives, too. And what should I tell them when they ask why I haven’t been in their lives? I don’t want them to hate you. I really don’t. I spent too much of my life hating you and it’s exhausting, unsustainable. But how do I explain that their father cut their sister out of their lives because their mother believed their sister inherited the evil eye from their sister’s mother? And that she was trying to blow them up with her voodoo magic? That’s too macabre for most adults, let alone teenagers. How do they reconcile loving you and loving me? If it’s a choice between the two, I honestly wish them their parents’ love first. I don’t want them to have ‘daddy issues.’ Daddy issues suck.

 

So, now. I’ve made my closure. I would love to see my sisters, but not at the expense of their overall familial stability. And you—you’re a stranger. A ghost from a haunted past I don’t revisit often, except to smile and acknowledge as ‘conquered.’ And you want to resurrect that ghost. To meld the images in my mind with a solid person who lives and breathes and responds to my emails. My life is complicated. I’m happy my life is complicated. I want my own problems. I want to cry because the boy I like didn’t text me back. I’m trying to make my own life, separate from the problems imposed on me by a failed parent. I’m not angry with you. I’m not hurt by you. I just don’t want anything from you. At all. Truly.

 

This isn’t how I want to feel. Maybe the coping mechanisms I developed were forms of detachment and I’m going about this all wrong. If I could make myself care, I would. I’m sure it would be nice to have a father. I remember when we were close. You were great. I look at my twenty-something year old friends’ relationships with their fathers and I think, that looks awesome! I wouldn’t mind having that. But realistically we wouldn’t have that. It will always be a little strained. You’ll always be tiptoeing around me, making up for lost time. I’ll always feel detached, even if I become fond of you. And I don’t want more obligatory relationships in my life. I want meaningful ones. As harsh as it is, you don’t mean enough to me anymore. In any capacity.

 

I could be convinced otherwise. I’m a chronic flip-flopper. If you send me reasons to keep this up, I will. Call me pessimistic, but I think you’ll come up short. This isn’t a Lifetime movie. This is life. This is me, your little girl grown up. I’ve done damn well for myself, but I’m not a great person. I’m just normal. And considering everything I dealt with, that’s one hell of a triumph. I’m sorry if I’m not what you expected. I’m not what I expected either. All this still seems as unreal as it was when I was twelve years old wondering why it happened to me. Self-pity. Dangerous stuff. I try to avoid it.

 

Write me back. Don’t write me back. I guess it doesn’t matter in the long run. I want to be honest. I want to tell you what I really think and feel, although I’m not really sure myself. Take it or leave it, but the fact is that you’re going to have to convince me that you’re worth the trouble. Good luck and, if you feel so inclined, give my sisters a secret kiss for me? At least I could console myself with that.

 

Sincerely,

Emily

your daughter, all grown up

 

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