Death Letters 2020

Dear M,

I’m guessing you’re part of the universe now, or eternally part of the past. How’s it going wherever or whenever you are? I’m doing OK. Still stuck to this Earth thankfully, but we both know that won’t last forever. It’s snowing as I write this even though it’s April 17th. What the fuck, hey? I’m finally getting my shit together and doing one of those things therapists say is good and writing my best friends who have died. There’s a pandemic going on, which means we all just have to sit around and watch movies for at least another month until they learn how to track it, kill it, or make people better once they have it. The Coronavirus is what I’m talking about. That is for real the name and no one will ever drink Corona again.

I hope this letter gets to you. I’m going to burn it in hopes that it does. I’ve missed you a lot over the years. Sorry this is the first time I’ve wrote. If you’re a ghost stuck in the cemetery then you’ve probably seen me at your headstone a couple times. Sorry I haven’t been there in awhile. I haven’t gone to any cemeteries in awhile if that makes you feel better.

I can’t give you many updates on your daughter, unfortunately. I haven’t seen her in years. Last time I did, she still looked like you, and was very quiet. We tried pretty hard at first to keep things together with D, me and the rest of our friends, but it didn’t last. Most of them live in the suburbs now, but I’m still here in the city. Well, sort of. I live in Cudahy where I bought a house with my wife. We were married in 2018. It’s funny, well not funny really, but I had one friend who couldn’t make it to be a groomsman. C, you would’ve liked him, he couldn’t make it and died a short while after. So I’ve got that hole forever shot through my bridal party for the one who couldn’t make it. You could be that one too because if you were around you would’ve been standing up there with me.

There have been new Star Wars movies, Marvel movies, Tarantino movies, books, comic books, streaming services, music. A lot has come out in the last nine years that you’d probably like. If you can ever get your ghost ass in front of a computer then I think you should check some of it out. There are other things that exist too, that you would like, and I don’t even know what they are, but I’m sure you would’ve told me about them.

I teach English now, and write. I’ve gotten a couple stories published. It’s actually a depressing subject to get into. Not that the stuff about you being dead isn’t depressing too, just that writing is a thing I’m constantly putting an effort towards and getting very little in return from. It still feels weird being a teacher, and I’m always trying to figure out how to get my students to just chill and realize I’m one of them – or they’re one of me? Maybe that’s the way I should look at it. The other teachers also seem strange. I’m leery to get too close to them because I’m afraid they might tell me I’m doing something wrong. I know I know, just a bunch a shit I need to get over, but these aren’t like new things, they are things that have been rolling along behind me for a long time. I don’t know how to get over them. But I’m working on it, or thinking about it, and I guess thinking about it is working on it?

Anyway, I’ve got a few other letters to write, to more people, and one cat, that are dead. I’ve missed you. I love you, buddy. I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places and all that, just like old times. If you get this send me a sign. I’ll be looking for one. I’ll try to write again a little sooner next time.

Love,
S

PS. Only send a sign if you can. If you’ve got limited ghost magic then don’t bother.

*

Dear C,

Sorry this is the first time I’m writing you, and that I’ve never been to your headstone. I’m also sorry I didn’t go down with those friends to Lake Charles. I’ve got a few excuses if you ever want to hear them. I’m still stuck on this Earth, but we both know how permanent that is. I’m writing my best friends who are dead because I miss you, and maybe I’m feeling a little lonely.

First things first, was that you fucking around with the streetlights outside my place after you died? I like to think it was, but unless you give me a sign, I can’t know for sure. I’m just kidding about the sign, unless you feel like you can manage one without damaging your spirit, wherever you are. Things here are pretty weird at the moment. We are having a full on pandemic, but it’s not too dangerous, so mostly all we have to do is stay home until they figure out how to track it, kill it, or make people better from it.

I’ve been writing a lot yet, and recently got a story published. I’m still looking for that big project, but haven’t found it, everything is a short story. If you can, pop over my shoulder and take a look at some of this stuff I’ve been writing. I’ll look for a sign of what you think, if you can manage one. I know writing is a silly thing to bother a dead person about, but how don’t I know you’re not really bored or something, and don’t just want to be a part of people’s lives in trivial ways? Anyway, I’m going to burn this letter in hopes that it finds you. I will save a copy though. I hope that doesn’t diminish the magic at all.

I don’t know what else to tell you about. I still miss you a lot. I spent a lot of time in Spain (the two times I went, sorry to rub it in, and sorry about the parenthesis, I know you hate them) walking around the olive groves at the foot of a mountain and thinking about you. I would’ve liked you there with me. How’d you get so worldly here in Wisconsin? I’ve wondered that quite a few times. Sometimes out loud to people that knew you.

J came out to Spain the first time I was there and then we took a ferry to Italy. Rome, C. I’m so sorry you never got to Rome. We found ourselves in many places, saying C would love it here. One was a bar in the basement of a bookstore. I can hear you in my head saying “OK, just stop” but I won’t. The bartender was a perfectly disaffected Italian girl. She put her feet up on the bar when she wasn’t serving anyone. There was a movie playing on a screen and little metal tables. There was also a wine place we thought you’d love, and yes, it’s Italy, so technically every place is a wine place, but this place had bottles stored along the walls, and a case in front with tobacco for sale where the cashier was watching soccer on a small TV. I feel like I’m doing a bad job describing it. It was like if Fuel Cafe was a wine bar, but also if Fuel looked the way it did without intention. Like if Fuel was only being what it could be because of where it was. Does that make sense? I’ve always felt Fuel is very intentionally more than just a Milwaukee coffee shop, a lot goes in to making it look like it’s more than what might have just sprang up naturally, but things are different in Italy. No one is trying, everyone has their shirts tucked in, and are drinking wine and eating pasta like that’s what they were born to do.

There’s much more I could tell you about, but I think I’ll save it for another time. One of these nights when I’m drunk why don’t you pop into my head, if you’re able, and we’ll talk a bit.

Love,
S

PS. I was thinking about communicating with things we can’t see, and I was thinking it was sort of like how when we’re young we’ll write a message with our finger on the back of a friend’s hand. Is this like that? Sorry for all the questions, especially if you get this and have no means to respond. I will look for signs, but not be disappointed if I find none.

*

Dear Dad,

Woo boy. I’m so sorry it has taken me almost ten years to write. I hope you never thought I don’t miss you because I do. Wherever or whenever you are.

I never thanked you for the effort you put in to stay close to me after the divorce, and for nudging me along a path that wouldn’t lead to total ruin. You saved my life about a thousand times in those thirty years you were there for of mine. Thank you.

I turned out OK. I think you’d be proud. I’ve probably been taking it a little too easy for the last year and a half, but I feel like the break is somewhat earned. I quit LC and only teach now. Yeah, I’m sort of a professor. I think technically I need a professorship to be a professor, but some people consider anyone who teach at a college a professor, so if you’re one of those, then yes, I’m a professor. I started teaching in the optician program and now I teach English. In other words, that whole going to school for writing thing you only got a glimpse of kind of turned out. I haven’t had much published, but I still work on it a lot. Maybe too much. Maybe this letter is even that. I kind of wish it wasn’t, but to be honest, I don’t even really know how to shut it off anymore.

Remember that time at breakfast when you asked me, why do people write? I ask my students that at the beginning of every semester, and I hope you’ve seen some of the answers.

I hope you’re doing good. I hope you’re only a ghost if you want to be. I’m still stuck on this Earth, but for how much longer, who knows. I’m not dying or anything, but there is a pandemic going on, and it probably won’t, but it might kill me. If you’ve got any ghost magic to spare you could send some to protect me a bit, but I know you got three of us, so do what you think is best with it.

I’m going to burn this letter in hopes that you get it. If you are able you can send me a sign. I’ll look for one, but won’t be disappointed if I don’t find one.

I’m going to take a drive over to your grave soon. Hopefully you can hear my thoughts when I’m there because I’ll say more then. I’ve travelled the world a bit since last time I’ve been to your marker. Anyway, I hope your eternal rest has been peaceful.

Love your son,
S

*

Dear O,

I’m writing this in hopes that you can understand the entirety of the English language now that you are deceased, and not only the few words I know you knew as a living cat.

It was really hard finding you dead and stiff that morning after you died. I know you were dying and I couldn’t handle being there when it happened, or I would’ve slept on the bathroom floor with you. I hope you understand.

I know it’s been almost six years, but I still miss you quite a bit, even if I’ve never wrote you before. I hope your rest has been a peaceful one, and that you’re only a ghost cat who understands English if that is what you want to be. If you know I live with two other cats and a dog now, I hope you’re not jealous. You have forever sectioned off a piece of my heart to call your own.

Have you ever come to me in dreams? I feel like you have a couple times, even finding me across the ocean, when I needed a companion. You were always exceptional at that, and I especially felt like when I was lonely you were the one creature on this Earth I could count on. I’m still stuck here, but you probably know by now it isn’t permanent.

Anyway, I’m going to burn this letter in hopes that it reaches you. I’m sending all of my love. If there really is a Rainbow Bridge then one day I’ll see you there.

Love your forever companion,
S

Scott Mashlan

About Scott Mashlan

Scott is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is an editor for New American Press and has spent time as AIR at Can Serrat in Barcelona. He has been published in F(r)iction and online in Bull.

Scott is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is an editor for New American Press and has spent time as AIR at Can Serrat in Barcelona. He has been published in F(r)iction and online in Bull.

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