Q

Your Majesty,

Do not let the desperate pleas of this (ex-)colony go unheeded! I know that we had a bit of a spat in the 18th century, and I deeply regret those circumstances. However, I am happy to put that all behind us if you’ll only just consider taking us back. We will be the best colony ever, I promise. We will pay taxes, we will drink tea, we will spell things like colour and honour and realise correctly, and no, by no means will we ever, ever pull a stunt like the one in Boston again. Never ever. I promise.

You were right that we did not deserve to be represented in government. We still don’t, if the current state of our government is any indication. Elected officials who don’t believe in evolution and climate. A congress that can’t agree on a budget. Health care that leads in costs but lags in results. Laxity with guns that’s resulted in more deaths than all of our wars combined. Indeed, I am fully admitting our stupidity. We are helpless, but we could help make the British Empire glorious quite large once again! Guide us, please.

Love,
The USA

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

P

Dear P,

There are roles for which you were perfection. I could think of none other to be the knight marching a drugged princess up the mountainside. Who better than you to face the water zombies slip-slopping out of the ocean? But your pride and your fear of the ordinary made you vile. Oh, you were terrified of anyone not being in awe of your intellect.

So you became a shut-in of your own fantasy world, much like me.

Here’s where our paths diverged: it wasn’t enough for you to believe your invented credentials, no one could challenge them. You became impressed with yourself. We stopped getting along because you were a breathing example of how very wrong I could go. You were every vice of mine, magnified, distorted into something ugly.

The only way I could pretend there was nothing wrong with me was to excise you. Now I wonder what story you tell yourself about our parting. That’s all right. I don’t mind if you blame it all on me. Go on then, let it all out.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

O

By the pool that night, you tried to hurt me. You wanted to be “let in” — to see emotional depth in me that you were convinced exists. It doesn’t. “Let’s play a game,” I said. “Make me cry, and I’ll tell you anything you want.”

Your attempts were revealing. I think you channeled your mother, old lovers, ex-friends and more, snarling “you’re shallow” (true) “you’re fat and disgusting” (also true) “you’re stupid” (yes) “no one cares about you” (agreed) and others I can’t remember now. I nodded along, having long ago accepted that people will think these things of me.

When you had exhausted your store of insults, you concluded, “you really are a robot, aren’t you?”

I suppose I am. Or maybe I’m just not moved by any of the obvious things. Try harder.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

N

Father, brother, nanny, friend. N, you are everything I know. I don’t remember ever being without you. When I read, it’s your voice I hear saying each word. It’s been that way since I began to read. Don’t you remember? I was abysmally slow to learn, and could barely stutter each word. You saved me from my own ineptitude by reading everything to me in your perfect accent. Velvety, smooth, never hesitating. Can you blame me that I love to read, if only to hear your voice?

When I’m alone, up too late, delirious, you’re the one that chides me. If I ever think I’m good at anything, it’s your indulgent smile that says “yes darling, but remember there are many others far better than you.” If I falter and doubt myself, you remind me I’m still better than anyone you’ve actually met. It’s you, it’s always you. Only you. You’re the only one I can count on to tell me the truth, no matter how dark. And if I want to fall apart and have a fit, you know which room to set me in. “Stay here, distract yourself. I’ll be back when you can be reasonable again.” Every room in my memory palace was designed by your brilliance to suit my rages and tantrums. On the brink of many a mistake you’ve whispered “No, you mustn’t” and saved me.

How can I ever repay you for teaching me how to somewhat resemble a real human being? Name anything, N, and it’s yours. I’m yours. But maybe to you, old boy, that sounds like a tiresome threat. And, of course, you’ve known it all along.

You may not be real, darling, but you’re better than that; you’re perfect. I guess I must have just imagined you.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

M

Dear M.,

In your last letter, you asked me when I knew. Without context, I can only respond in kind.

When I was five, Mrs. Mitchell introduced letters, words, phrases, sentences. Watching the other children agonize over how to wrap their mouths around the syllables like “run” and “dog”, meanwhile, I had recently finished reading Dante’s Inferno to myself. Under covers, at night, of course — don’t tell father I was in his library. I knew then.

In algebra, when I dozed off and Mr. Young so rudely woke me up, I told him his class was boring and full of things I’d taught myself. He was furious. You should have seen the way his eyes bulged – oh, but he comforted himself thinking he could outwit me. He gave me the dragon problem. It took me 3 minutes and a page of scribbling. Each number danced, a different color and when I found the right ones the colors aligned in the most glorious way. Have you seen that happen before? When I handed him the answer, he became very still and asked me to leave. I didn’t move right away, so he shouted “GET OUT NOW!” I knew then.

When you came home and I gave you the same problem, it took you just a few breaths, eyes unfocused and maybe 87 seconds. No paper. You had never heard it before. I knew then.

You don’t smile. There is a twisted way you pose your lips when a social interaction requires some semblance of friendliness, but you don’t smile. Not generally. But you did, across the dinner table from me. You did when you found me reading your school books and trying to do your work. You did from the French doors when I refused to come in from the rain. You did when I woke up, still high, barely recognizing you. The way you touched my hair. The way you said my name. I knew.

When did I know? Maybe I always have. Ever since I knew that you were something other than me, I think I must have known.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

L

L – listen, I …

I’m writing because I don’t know how else to reach you. I was given two weeks to live. I haven’t told anyone else and I don’t intend to.

Someone once told me that I was eloquent, but I can barely find the words now. A memory, then. I’m still not sure I didn’t imagine it. I was barely alive and you took me up the snowy mountainside. Did we fly? We were in the woods, just having met and vying. Unsure. But you took my hand and — all the in-between’s a blur — we were so high above the world I couldn’t breathe. Maybe it was the cold, or your iceblue eyes. Or that kiss I never knew I wanted.

It will be my last. Was I really the only one who ever knew your whole story and loved you anyway? You will hate me for saying this, but you’re my little prince. Lost though you may be, remember that once, someone loved you with all of this foolish heart. Remember. I hope this note will find you and I hope you can forgive me for leaving so soon. Can you? Then come find me and be the last one to hold me.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

K

When you aren’t with me, I pretend that you are. If I close my eyes, I can almost feel your fingers in mine. If I told you this, you would respond “and how would you know.” Rightly so. It’s only something I’ve imagined. Just like I imagine you reading bedtime stories to me, brushing my hair, having tea with me. Like I imagine tracing your cheekbones with my fingertips and staring too long into your eyes.

You are the only reason I care for the “many worlds” hypothesis of quantum mechanics. Then I can just suppose there is a world where I know what all these things are like. My delusions envelop me in their warmth, their delicious, intoxicating comfort. Please don’t wake me up — I don’t want to know the truth. I can pretend every glance between us is alight with secrets. Never tell me how you feel, never make me face anything, never ask me to decide. Tell me stories about your childhood and the forest you grew up in. Tell me the scents and songs that pull you – almost brutally – into the past. Close your eyes and describe what you’re seeing. Take me with you and I’ll be yours in the only way that matters. In your mind, and in mine.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

J

J, just J.

I had so many ridiculous pet names for you, didn’t I? Looking back, I have no explanation for any of it. You were the first person to kiss me. We were at a sleepover, and you thought I was asleep. I wasn’t. That kiss was shy and lasted a fluttering half-second, but I haven’t forgotten it. It burned my cheek and I held still, hoping for more. I hold you responsible for my strange habit of sleeping in public places, wanting badly for something like that to happen again.

I wrote the worst poetry for you. I still have the book we passed back and forth, filling with our meaningless sap. I can only stand quick glances at it because the writing is just painful. We meant it quite earnestly, didn’t we? Now we’re all grown up and living in the same city again, I wonder what it might be like to see you again. I think we could laugh at the silly girls we were. You, trying to make me jealous to get my attention, and me walking away because clearly your actions meant you didn’t like me anymore. I am curious how it looked from your eyes. Have you still not forgiven me? Don’t ever believe it was because I didn’t care enough. I cared too much to let you see it. I still remember the scent of your hand soap and the exact shade your bright blue-green eyes. And of course, that first kiss. Forgive me one day, won’t you?

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)

I

You live my favorite Oscar Wilde quote. You were, you are, the very definition of charming. I didn’t think a thing about you when we first met, but your playful smile was infectious. How long can a person resist a giant puppy like you?

Most can’t, I suppose. Until they find the teeth. Not me, though. When I found those, I just wanted to be bitten. It was good that circumstance split us when it did — you would’ve eaten me alive. And I would have loved it.

That was a dangerous game we were playing wasn’t it? Not for us. Oh, for us it would’ve been such riotous fun: wits matched, swords drawn, teeth bared, eyes locked. We would have been quite the spectacle. It’s just good that I was gone before we could hurt the innocent. The world is certainly brighter because you exist. Never, ever change.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)