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This is a shortlisted story for the 2012 Litro & IGGY International Short Story Award for Young Writers.
First things first: I know I don’t know you very well, but I don’t have to. This isn’t about you.
Chances are you’re an old, blind Bangladeshi man, or a small, illiterate child in Indonesia. But it’s more likely you’re that crazy lady with the squeaky trolley who I know has been the one snooping through our garbage. It’s even more likely that you’re my mum. If you are my mother, or a certain snooty brother, just put this letter back where you found it and quit going through my stuff in the name of all that is moderately sacred.
Okay, I guess I do care who you are. Not a lot though. Only enough to hope with all I’ve got that whoever is reading this isn’t my mother. But that shouldn’t have anything to do with you.
I didn’t write this in search of sympathy or attention. Not really. Besides, I’ve never met you. Your day-to-day life probably sucks more than mine in one way or another. I don’t really care what you do with this letter. I don’t know where it will end up or if it produces the desired effect. But I will know that I did my best to save the world in my own little way. I tried to tell people about a dilemma that is not as rare as it seems anymore. And although I probably wont be around to see what comes of this, I’d like to die knowing I tried.
Yes. I’m dying.
We all are. It’s a known fact. However, like a few billion people in this world, I’m dying a little faster. I don’t like to call what I have a disease, but after hours of research (courtesy of our public library), I accepted that there is no other term closer in accuracy. Encyclopedia Britannica and (when my mum wasn’t looking) web.md have all confirmed my suspicions: I am dying of boredom.
I suffer from prolonged exposure to dull, unexciting days that pass by me indistinguishably and I’ve come to the point where, at any moment, my bleak suffering isn’t likely to give in to a miraculous recovery.
I’ve been dying for a while now, since the summer I turned 14. Fourteen wasn’t even special. Not like 13 or 18 or 21. Yet everything around me was, for a while, new and different.
Some people started treating me differently while others treated me the same. Suddenly girls were supposed to have boobs and boys were supposed to look and pretend they weren’t looking. While all this happened, I can only assume that I changed as well. But unlike breasts, I didn’t really draw people to me. Instead, all my friends began to distance themselves.
Soon enough, the only physical friends I had were my precious, beloved laptop; my bed; and Dr. Spock and Mr. Tubbs—both rabbits: unstuffed and stuffed, respectively.
Food became more than just sustenance or mild, hormonal cravings. It became a seductive mistress that called to me even in the early hours of the morning. When I wasn’t eating or sleeping horribly (as opposed to joyous naps), I was watching cat videos on Youtube.com, updating my blog, or playing Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games.
The games, cat videos and general web surfing in themselves weren’t so much boring. Not that I perceived anyways. Instead it was all like medicine. I did it because I had to. It was my protection from boredom. I was comfortable during that time, happy. And it’s not like I was hurting anyone.
I think it’s unwise to directly name who it was that stole away our router in the middle of the night during one of my Call of Duty marathons. It would also be wrong to accuse that same person of purposely refusing me all possible internet connections, and even setting up a password for the WiFi of the old lady next door. However I’ll still point out that it was this person who pushed me over the edge. This person tore down my immune system and ripped out my happiness and let boredom fester in that cavernous hole.
I remember the game just stopping and then throwing me off the server all together. A sound, like the cross between a siren and a starving vulture, rang true through my ears. I could feel my eyes welling in tears as I tried everything I could. But with every “Internet Connection Not Found”, it became harder and harder to deny it.
Withdrawal was a nightmare. I’m actually still quite ashamed of what happened that morning so I won’t go into detail. Let’s just say that I didn’t JUST cry and hug my laptop while singing along with Celine Dion.
But what can I say? It was like someone had taken away my clothes and made me walk through a mall on a Saturday afternoon. Then had me lie down on a block of dry ice. Then proceeded to remove my skin to make a skirt. I felt like I’d been completely and totally violated. It was an attack of the worst kind.
My equilibrium has been thrown completely out of whack. I am no longer satisfyingly bored. I’m more than that. The extent to which I am bored will actually kill me. I probably only have six weeks left in me before I cave.
It took me ten rounds of spider solitaire until I finally decided that I wasn’t going to take it lying down. I would lie when I die. But until then, I decided I would do as my father does when he is dissatisfied with the system of things: write an angry letter.
Only my letter wouldn’t be angry, and would actually make it to the post office.
Fatal Boredom (FB) is a problem that is threatening our generation, and must be further prevented. So, I wish that this letter—and the four others like it—will make their way around the world, that everyone who can even vaguely read English comes across this message and translates it for a friend or reads it to an illiterate human being or something.
The knowledge of this disease should be passed across the rolling glens of Scotland, to the most remote people in the Sahara, to those government research facilities at the South Pole, to the cosplayers of Japan. I hope that one day a cure will be found so that thousands of people’s lives can be saved.
And if you do know who I am, or you are my mum and ignored my earlier demand, tell my Facebook friends I’m sorry I never got to actually meet any of them. Tell my Twitter followers the same. Update my status with the words “is dead”, and make sure my brother doesn’t touch my stuff.
Oh, and I love you mum. But you still suck for getting rid of our internet.
Have my body preserved like they did in ancient Egypt, and my coffin lined with royal blue fabric that is 50% silk, 50% pure cotton and imported from India. Do not dress my corpse in royal blue (or any shade of blue for that matter). Entomb me with the very walls of my bedroom and everything that was in it except Dr. Spock because he’d smell once he died. Place my laptop and charger in the coffin with me.
With Mr. Tubbs and Dr. Spock as my witnesses, these are my final words.
I hope there’s WiFi in heaven.
Lindsey Nkem was 5538 days old when she started writing this. She’s been told, however, that she first opened her eyes in a hospital in Cameroon 15 years ago, and that by the tender age of six months she was already jet-setting around the world. Along the way, she started reading and writing about things that unfortunately aren’t possible (as far as she knows). The inspiration for said stories lies in what she sees and experiences, the people around her, and herself. Sometimes they even turn out well.
Currently she resides, once again, in "E-town" (Edmonton), Alberta, Canada where she reads, writes, draws, and burns away at her corneas with her beloved MacBook Pro while downing ginger tea. When she’s not at home, you can find her getting through eleventh grade, perfecting her roundhouse kicks at the dojo, or occasionally, actually hanging out with her friends face to face.