A Letter Unfinished

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Liz,

Sorry for not returning your calls or e-mails these last few months, I imagine there must be quite many by now. I imagine too that you must be quite worried, angry even. That’s natural and to be expected but please try your hardest not to lose any sleep over me; I don’t think I could bare hearing that you’re anything less than spritely and energetic these days, almost bursting at the seams with life, flourishing. You were always so wonderful and kind to me—your sharp brown eyes so tender, your temper so even, so checked. You didn’t even lose it that time when I lost mine and told you that the greatest thing your father ever did was die, you knew I didn’t mean it, you knew I was just angry because he thought it was beyond me to please his one and only daughter and who could blame him? You with your air of gentleness and cheerfulness and me with my wild lust for danger and excitement. We were miss-matched in every way, Liz, but somehow we kept holding on, your hands firmly grasping mine. It’s that grasp that brought us through your first miscarriage; it’s that grasp that brought us through when I was jobless for an entire year; it’s that same grasp that brought us through when I tried to make ravioli and set the kitchen on fire. It’s funny and inconsequential now, but it had me so worried then because All-State had just denied us insurance. For months after, I’d stay up at nights still smelling the ashes, reliving the freight and worry, especially after I’d had a bad day. But as usual, I was amazed at how you kept stable and centred throughout the whole ordeal, always smiling, always mild mannered, calm. Remarkable!

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But Liz, before I go on, I must confess, even though I loved you from the first day we met, I never thought we’d end up getting married. Not in the slightest. That’s why I kept on sleeping with that girl with the dark brown curly hair and upturned nose from Queens while we were dating, that one girl you didn’t like. For that I’m truly sorry. It was long before we got serious, but still it was wrong. I’ve always meant to say a word or two about it, I just didn’t want you to ever doubt my commitment to you—my heart, my soul, my all. But I’ll make no excuse, I should have said something much earlier and hiding it from you was cowardly and selfish. I hope and suspect you can look past this. It’s really the only time this stupid boy ever really did you wrong.

Also, do you remember the expensive silver pen, the one you gave me when I finally got a job and started my first day of work, the one with “hope” engraved on the bottom of it? It’s lost. Not because I was careless and this isn’t just another one of my many silly excuses, this time I really couldn’t do anything to keep it. That pen meant so much to me too, I brought it everywhere—it reminded me of the first time we met. I knew what hope meant that night because all I wished for as soon as I saw you was getting you to notice me. You were wearing a blue, satin dress, one with frills at the end. At the time, it was one of those in-style dresses that made you look a little fleshier than you’d like because I remember you complaining to your friend, Rosaline, that you felt fat—that’s your only vanity, Liz, you watch your weight way too much, avoiding this and that food, dieting for months. Nonsense, pure nonsense. Because to me no skinny Milan model could have worn that dress—or any other dress—better. You were beautiful in every sense of the word, categorically stunning from your pined back rich dark hair, fully showing your chocolate face to your thin hips and thick waist (that’s what I liked the most) to your sturdy legs, well-toned from too much jogging. You truly did and continue to take my breath away. And I remember too when I spilt a little of your drink on your dress when I almost fought that guy in the grey crew neck t-shirt at the back of the bar who spoke to you in a rather unbecoming way, asking about your bra-size and telling you that you should wear something that didn’t hide your camel toe. You were cool about the whole thing, but It made me so mad, I still feel like snapping his neck even though it was five years ago. It’s amazing how vividly I remember these things because I usually forget everything, even my mom and dad’s birthdays—I’m really such a klutz sometimes. I always remember yours though.

Anyways, as I said, sorry for not returning what I imagine are a numberless amount of calls and e-mails. But really there’s not much I can do. That’s the scary part—not being able to do exactly as I please. You know that’s a big thing to me—freedom. I’m at a place where making calls and sending emails is impossible, a place without any green life whatsoever. Can you imagine, Liz, there’s not a single tree or blade of grass in sight? It’s so desolate, so grey and ash-scented I tremble and tear up with nearly each sight, smell, touch, and sound that I experience—I wish I were exaggerating. I hate behaving like a coward but what else can I do when things are so barren and desperate? The clouds are always heavy and it always thunders like it’s about to rain but it never does. I’ve been here for 5 months and I haven’t even seen a single drop of water let alone had a drink of any. A man who has been here since the 70’s says it’s going to be like this forever. He says that’s what he heard from the gate keeper. I think the man’s name is Lenard or something like that. I was much too frightened to learn his name or anything else that he told me properly plus I’m unusually bad at remembering stuff to begin with.

I think a serious mistake has been made, though. I shouldn’t be here because most the other people here are murderers and thieves. The crimes of the men are engraved on their bare chests, while that of the women are on their backs—no one wears a shirt or blouse, we only have some rags covering our privates. “Lenard,” who camps next to me, has “MURDERER” engraved on his chest in big, red, bold, hand-drawn letters. He says he used to be a hit man before he came here which means he’s high on the list of things I’m afraid of. His eyes are so dark and hollow, Liz, so cold and empty, they betray not even the slightest natural emotion or concern for anything, not even for their owner. They’re like ice—black ice. That’s it: he has ice for eyes. A lot of the other people I see here have similar eyes, even the women, most of whom look like strippers and prostitutes, the dirtiest kind.

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I’m not sure how I got here too. All I can remember is driving along the interstate and out of nowhere blam! I was run off the road by an 18 wheeler, our frail 2012 Corolla must have flipped over at least ten times and I found myself trapped in a twisted mound of delicate metal, my prison of soft white steel—they really don’t make cars like they used to. I was conscious, though barely, when the emergency unit arrived and they cut me out with some sort of saw machine—it rang in my ears for what seemed like forever. Then they threw me on a stretcher and kept telling me that I was going to be fine, but I knew they were lying because they kept saying it too much, over and over and over. Which person who’s not in serious danger needs that much reassurance? And right after they put me on the ambulance, I realized that I couldn’t feel essential parts of me and that the left foot of my yellow driving loafers was missing. I then fell asleep and that’s the last thing I remember.

Liz, they say there’s a judgement coming. They say none can escape it. A great judge, they call him “The Lord,” will sit up on a great white throne and require us to talk about what we’ve done with our lives, account for our sins and virtues—everything. What a silly event that would be! I don’t believe them but they seem serious. It’s Lenard and two other guys who keep repeating it. They say that we’re in a place called “Purgatory” now. If they’re telling the truth, then I will gladly stand before him and talk about the sum of my experiences, of which the most meaningful part is marrying you, learning to see eternal beauty in your soft brown eyes and flaws too. Yes, I’ll gladly tell him about a girl named Lishaunna Pierce, affectionately called Liz, a girl who saved me—my own personal Jesus; a girl who I adore every single atom of; a girl who’s few sins I would readily die for. Yes, Liz, when The Lord asks me what I’ve done with my life, I will say, the only meaningful part is part I spent with you.

Liz, I’m so af

 

 

by Mark Hutchinson // mark@eternalremedy.com

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