[Author's Note: There is some trouble in IndieInk land. It is unclear whether or not, or when, there will be more IndieInk Writing Challenges. Plus the site appears to be down at the moment. I do remember my prompt, "To [You] With Love", but I do not recall who sent the prompt and who recieved my quote, an Ernest Hemingway line from one of his letters. Sorry about that.]
[Author's Other Note: This is fiction. Made up. Not true. Bullpucky. Nonsense. "Not intended to be a factual statement," as the office of Senator Jon Kyl once put it. "Hooey and Applesauce", as Dave Dameshek says.]
It's hard to know how to begin. There's so much to say, but it all tastes like ashes in my mouth. I can't make sense of it all. But I can't do this without trying to explain. It's up to you whether or not you believe it.
I can't really explain this. But I have this feeling I just need to tell you these things. These things are important, and I really feel like I need to tell you.
I know this probably isn't making any sense yet. Maybe it never will.
This thing isn't your fault. If you skim down this letter. you're going to get the impression that you should call the police, or an ambulance, or a doctor. Don't bother. I've been thinking about this for a while. I've been thinking about very little else. So by the time you see this, it will be far too late. I'm going to leave this in your mailbox late on a Friday, after I know you've finished for the day and taken your little red Accord home through the city streets. You won't see it until Monday morning, and, as I say, it will be impossible to change things at that point. Don't try.
I really want to add, at this point, that it's really not your fault. Not at all. You are probably going to think that it is. I understand that, but it's really not. You should try to remember that. All this happened because of me, not because of anything you did or didn't do. Cold comfort, I bet. But that's all I can offer.
Do you remember the first day of class? I certainly do. It was still warm out, and you were wearing a dark brown dress, which was almost tan where the sun hit it. I think I fell in love with you at that moment. Your perfect, pretty shoes with the little rat a tat sound they made on the floor. You were so fired up about teaching, so cute and gawky and just so very beautiful. The moment your first lecture finished, I knew.
Nothing could happen immediately. You were faculty, I was a student. It was ridiculous to think anything different. But my brain wouldn't stop, counting down the days until I could tell you, when finals were over and we were no longer bound by convention. I knew people would talk, but people always do. I knew I could win you. I was sure of it.
Even as I type that, I blush a little bit. How monumentally stupid! To think that you would have ever...ah, never mind. Forget it. I was just dumb, dumb, dumb.
Did you know I followed you home once? Yeah, I know. Creepy. But I did. I waited until your car pulled out, then followed you all the way home to your little three story house, squashed on either side by other houses. After I knew where you lived, I would drive by sometimes. I don't know what I expected to find. Of course, if you sunbathed in the nude, that would have been great! But I didn't think you would do that. I just had to know something about you, something about what you were like when you took your shoes off and relaxed after a long, hard day. Did you drink wine? Watch sad movies? What were you like in "real" life?
Then, of course, your Mom died on that horrific weekend, right before Christmas. It was so awful to watch you struggle through that day's lecture, and then the fill ins were obnoxious. You finally came back after break, and we all sent you cards, and you were so kind to handwrite those notes to all of us. It was so neat, seeing your handwriting expressing real feelings instead of just all the endless notes you put on the board. I have it here, pinned to my cork board above my laptop screen. You loop your "j"s in this really special, unique way. I've never seen anybody do that before. I read it a thousand times, and honestly, just the first line and the last, those were the ones that hooked me. "To Thomas," and "Love, Lori."
I'm blushing again. To see those letters, those words- it set me on fire! It reminded me of that line from "Araby"-"But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires." It was marvelous. I feel stupid to have felt that way, but at the time, that's where I was.
Of course, I soon learned you signed everyone's note that way.
I can't believe I let myself think that way.
I'm so stupid.
Please remember that this isn't your fault at all. This is kind of what set it off, but if it wasn't this, it would have been something else. I just wasn't built for this world.
Do you remember when you were talking about Hemingway, and you cited all the different things, his father, all the wounds, all the concussions, before he died? How those things were "necessary, but not sufficient" causes of his depression? That's kind of like this. This whole episode by itself isn't enough, but it just tops off a bunch of other things that I never told you about. Trust me, there are plenty of other reasons.
There's a line that I heard on the comedy channel. This comic was smoking a cigarette, and he said, "Look, if you've sat through the first half of a movie, and it's terrible, what makes you think it's going to get any better in the second half?"
I won't say "Goodbye" or anything dumb like that.