The 15th of November 1987 – Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

(found beneath a pile of dried leaves just by the intersection of the blue diamond and black square trails)

Dearest Father,

I hate to bring up such a disconcerting conversation, because I know it really bothered you when I said it, when I told you I felt disconnected, when I told you I felt I was wrapped in gauze and kept separated, isolated and muffled, from the world. But today I saw something, and it slashed away whatever filters were blocking out everything that was around me. Today I saw something, and I felt it reach into my soul, and I felt it pull me out of myself, and I felt the world.

I was walking Nixon down the usual path when he saw something in the forest and he just pulled the leash right out of my hand. I wasn’t sure what he was after at first, so I chased after as Nixon bounded off the trail.

By the time I got to Nixon, he had already gotten to the thing, just a poor harmless chipmunk. He had lunged at it and now he just stood there, barking and snarling. I hustled over the leaves and grabbed Nixon’s leash and pulled him back before he could do any more damage. I guess Nixon bit the thing, or clawed at it with his paws, because it had a big hole in its side. It was a tear that ripped open the chipmunk from its neck all the way to its back paw. There wasn’t much to see, no guts or blood. It was just pale flesh with a little bit of white thigh bone poking through in the leg.

But something happened. Or maybe there was just a moment when I thought I saw something. In that twitching, dying animal, I found a piece of myself. In that glassy, fear filled eye, I found my mirror. I finally connected to something.

Then I felt the leash slip through my hands. Nixon leapt forward and yelped. He got right up to it and chomped down. By the time I pulled him away, the poor thing’s head had been bitten clean off.

But I found myself, Father. Do you understand? I have found who I am. He is pale. He is shivering. He has spent the last two decades locked in a dark cupboard underneath the basement stairs. But I have found him.

Faithfully,

Your Son

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