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The Masked Letter Writer
Today I write three letters, to Leah, Eve, and Richard. To Slither, Sunshine, and The Dust. I have observed notable qualities in these oblivious friends of mine.
Dear Slither, You are talking about others recklessly, and you must understand lying is a bad thing. Stop gossiping! It doesn’t give you real friends, those people don’t even care… Sitting in the corner listening to their conversations really clears things up. All of them talk behind each other’s backs. Perhaps you know and refuse to believe it. I cannot quite be sure. I do not know you fully, and you must know that I am not just making an assumption. I am not judging you, I am simply observing…
To Eve I write, the world is not going to get better. The world is full of people who refuse to change. Although I am not trying to put your light out, please consider my thoughts. Oh Eve, oh dear Sunshine, I know you try. You try so hard to change the way people are. To change their ways of doing, but not everyone can be as perfect as you.
Richard is not nothing, he simply believes he is. Nearly the opposite of Sunshine, he simply lets people walk right over him like he’s nothing but dust. You know what, Richard? People do care! I care! Sunshine certainly cares!
“Samantha! Time for dinner!”
Why must Leaving Goose interrupt my writing? “Okay Mom, I’m coming!”
The stiff table matches the temperament between us. I take my seat and examine what is on my plate. Casserole? Again? Does she know how to cook anything else?
“So, how was your day?”
“Fine.” A perfectly neutral answer. I twiddle my fork among the little clumps of rice and slowly sip the milk she has poured for me. She skulks over me like a vulture as I do my best to ignore her. Her hunger for my attention is a little more important to her than the food on her plate.
In the silence as I pretend to eat, I begin to write a letter to her in my mind. Dear Leaving Goose, it began, your daughter is tired of your trying to understand. She often tries to understand you, but leaving your own husband in jail in the city you once loved? And he was innocent! How do you think your daughter feels? Do you not think it affects her? Oh, how angry her daughter was!
“Hey Samantha, I—”
“Thanks a lot, Mom!” I shove the chair into the table, leaving her startled and confused.
I don’t care. Let her be confused. I have more important things to do than to care for my mother’s emotional needs.
Upstairs in my bed, maybe by 11:30, I have perfected my letters. They are beautifully written, all the words slanting to the left and in purple pen. In it, I make sure the recipient will never let someone else read the letter, and sign it SHH. Nobody knows those are my real initials. My mom decided to change our last name to her maiden name after we left Reagan. Now my name is Samantha Brandid, which tastes much more revolting than Holmes.
I left extra early for school to arrive to its empty halls of nothingness. Always so quiet in the morning, so peaceful. I must not let that distract me. I must put the letters in their lockers and, in Leah’s case, the second bathroom stall in the 200s hallway, since that is always the first place she goes. I am so lucky there are the slits in the lockers, perfect for depositing notes. When the deed is done, I smirk to myself, then skitter to my first class and sit, breathing heavily until the bell rings.
“Oh, hey Samantha,” my friend Bestan shuffles into the room. He usually arrives first.
“Hey Bestan,” I answer.
“So, how was your weekend?”
“Your mom?” he asked, not the least bit surprised.
“Yep,” I sigh.
Another person walks through the door, a person I do not like much. Bestan made him stumble, and I laughed. He smiles, that stupid smile, oh how he grins!
That is what I like about Bestan. No matter what, he always manages to make me laugh. Thank you!
I must write a letter to Bestan, thanking him.
On the way to my next class, I see Leah, puzzled, scanning a sheet of paper with purple writing on it. I hope she at least tries to make out what I am talking about.
In history class, Eve sits next to me, ignoring the teacher as she absorbs the purple words. I am surprised. A letter stopped her from paying attention in class. Will she consider my thoughtful words though? On the other side I notice Richard, and he doesn’t seem to have changed. He still thinks it’s the end of the world. Oh well. At least he doesn’t know who wrote it.
Dear Bestan, I began again…
Dear The Best, how I care for you so much! No matter how much I do not care about my life, I will always know you do. No matter how much hatred stirs inside me, you still see through me! You make me laugh with your grin, even if I am in the darkest mood… On and on I go, writing the most wonderful letter I have ever put into script. But this time I hesitate to give it to him. Should he read it, would he not know it was me? He wouldn’t let others read it, that’s for certain, but what if this is all meaningless to him? Why all of a sudden do I care what he thinks? I never care. I must not. I can’t.
Yet I already wrote it.
Ok, I must give it to him. Otherwise he would never find out, and speaking is not my strength. The next day as I am walking to his locker, my stomach shrinks. My hands flush with ice water and shake uncontrollably.
But why? I have never been this nervous before, and I have sent probably over 30 letters, and that’s only counting school! I skim the note, and my eyes scroll to the bottom. There. I have found the answer: Samantha Hailey Holmes. Bestan will know who wrote this and I shall become unmasked.
First class I feel as if I’m about to die. When I come in, I do not look up, fear clinging to my skin. I don’t even manage a whisper to him throughout the entire class period, and 2nd period I feel just as sick. Leah is talking to one of her “friends” in front of me.
“Yeah, like I saw Bestan with one! With the purple handwriting and stuff…”
“Really? I got one of those just a couple weeks ago…”
Oh no. I can’t bear to listen to it anymore. Leah has found out. She must have been right behind Bestan’s shoulder when he was reading it and now she was blabbing to the whole world!
Everyone will know by the end of the week who wrote all those letters and she will be hunted down and cornered. Everyone will know what she thought of them, what she wanted for them. No one can know that! Thinking recklessly, only one option comes to her.
Making sure no one is around, she sneaks into the bathroom and throws open the window. All her thoughts thrash inside her, and her left hand feels poisoned, poisoned from writing those many letters. Convinced no one can possibly understand, she curses at the world, the letters, Bestan, Leah, and then herself. Grasping the brink of the outside ledge, she at last lets go, and plummets to the pavement.
I blink, then see Bestan looking at me. I then get a larger perspective and see a huge crowd surrounding me, like a circus.
“Samantha, are you all right?”
From the moment he says this, the pain swells inside me, the memory of the letters, and what I have just done. When Leah was talking about what she saw…. I feel my whole body broken, and my face stabbed with humiliation and shame.
“The letter…” I gasped, my ribs stinging my lungs.
“Yes, I got your letter. But why did you jump from there?”
“Leah… She saw…” I am embarrassed with the crowd trying to listen in.
“Samantha,” he nearly laughed, “Leah tried to get a glimpse at it, but I pushed her away. I know how nosy she is.”
“She didn’t…?” I asked, beginning to feel stupid.
“No,” he said, smiling, but the smile had pity written all over it.
“Oh, Bestan…” I said, my heart burning. No need for words, and he stays by my side until the ambulance arrives.
An overwhelming wave of relief washes over me as the EMS takes me away. No matter how much I would have to explain, I knew I had someone to trust, and it was the most beautiful feeling in the world.