Month: May 2014

The 19th of May 1997 – Avalon, New Jersey

(found trapped between two wooden slats on the boardwalk pier)


Today I woke up pinching myself. I wasn’t sure – and I’m still not – if any of the last day has been a dream. I keep wondering what could have hit me on the head to give me such fantastical hallucinations. I keep wondering when I’ll wake up, probably face down on that boardwalk, with your pretty face bent over me, calling my name.

Of course if that happened – if you were to wake me – I’d only become more confused. How many dreams can I wake up from, only to find myself trapped in the whimsy of another?

If things keep going like this, I’m going to develop a serious mistrust for reality, and I’ll always be wondering when I’ll wake up, and I’ll always be hoping that I never do.

I know it’s never happened before, but I swear that it has. Yesterday just seemed too perfect to have ever been experienced for real. Yesterday seemed all wrapped up in the fog and merriment of something unreal, something transported out of heaven and dropped onto our windswept boardwalk. Everything I saw and everything I felt yesterday – I swear I’ve felt it all before, but never actually.

It must have happened before, seeing you from across the sparkling arcade, you with that funnel cake and a powdered face, me with a pocketful of tickets and a whack-a-mole mallet in my hand. It must have happened before, either in some mystical alternate universe or maybe just in some stupid kid’s dreaming head. It must have happened before because it’s just too good to have not.

And that’s why I woke up pinching myself. I can’t get the smell of the salty ocean breeze out of my nose. I can’t get the feel of your hand off my palm, and I don’t think I ever want to. It’s all too good to be true, and if the future didn’t look so bright – now that you’re here to light it – I’d honestly prefer to just stay in yesterday and wrap it around me like a blanket. It’s all too good to be true, but – lucky for me – I’m not waking up, no matter how hard I pinch myself. I’m not waking up, and I’m glad I never have to.

So when can I see you again?



“I Believe” – The 24th of March 1984 – Shermer, Illinois

(found under a table in the high school’s library)

Principal Vernon,

I’m not a criminal. I’m not an athlete, a brain, a basket case, and I’m not a princess either. I’m just the kid who sat in the back, quietly, who you probably forgot all about.

Who do I think I am? That’s what you want to know. Well, that’s what I want to know, too.

Who do I think I am? I’ve spent the whole day wondering about that, while the other five ran around the hallways like idiots, while you sat in your office and stacked smug bricks around your fragile ego. I sat here thinking.

Who do I think I am?

Well, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what I believe.

I don’t believe in the big stuff, the doctrines and the isms, the governments and the religions with their dogmas and assertions. I don’t believe in it, and I don’t believe that it works, and I don’t believe that our relations to any of that needs to have any relevance to our own selves.

I believe that there is no single thing greater than the individual and there is no greater activity than seeking to understand one.

I believe in instinct and intuition, in the sparking, electro-magnetic attraction that can exist between two things inevitably meant to be together. I believe that attraction can bring us all towards great things if only we let ourselves be drawn out of our shells by it.

I believe that I could be wrong, that I was wrong and that I will be wrong soon. I believe that my mistakes could lead to great earthquakes and volcanos that will swallow up the world, burn it to the ground and shake all civilization to ruin.

I believe that I’ll be happier dancing amongst the ruins of my life than you will be propped up on a throne in your great palace of sand and spittle.

I believe that because I believe in the power and the majesty of the greatest moment, rare as it is, when the universe hums along in harmony and two separate things come towards one and a single kiss can become an illuminating explosion and all shadows in the world are blown away by a single blinding light and it all just makes sense.

So what does that make me?

Crazy. I know.

And what does that make you?

Bertram Howards


Check out other response to the Weekly Writing Challenge here:


The 15th of April 2003 – Youngstown, Ohio

(found under a thing)

Bradley, dear,

It’s just a terrible way to live your life, the way you’re living your life. Take a moment and try to understand what I’m telling you. Take a moment and try not to get so angry because maybe then you’ll realize that I’m only just trying to help.

Bradley, I’ve lived just like you’ve lived, but worse. Bradley, I’ve lived just like you’re living right now. So take a moment and take a breath because I’m only just trying to help.

Wherever you look, Bradley, you just see things. You see things and things and things and these things are just all around you. Everything that happened, everything and anything that could possibly, maybe just this once – please – happen, well it’s all just a puny little thing. That’s how you see it. That’s how I saw it.

There was a thing, Bradley, that really bothered me. It was a thing that could have happened, but it didn’t. It could have happened, and it seemed like it was so close to happening. It could have happened, and it would have absolutely changed everything. It could have made it so that I ended up a completely different person. It could have made it so that I wasn’t even here right now, writing you this letter.

Of course this thing was out of my control, so all I can do is look back and wonder and pray and realize how much easier everything would have turned out if only this one tiny, little thing would have turned out different. It just would have been easier. It just would have been simpler.

But you can’t live your life this way, Bradley. You can’t just live life like you’re going through a whole bunch of things, things, things and more things because then you get lost. You get caught up and lost and confused.

There was another thing, Bradley, except this time I saw it coming towards me. It was another thing that was out of my control and was so easy and simple and just would have changed everything forever, once and for all. I saw it coming straight towards me, and I just thought it was another thing – you know, for all its potential it was just another thing – like the last thing and the thing before that.

So I didn’t think it would happen.

But it did.

And nothing changed. Not the way it should have, at least.


The 16th of May 2007 – Killingworth, Connecticut

(found under a pile of dry, crinkly leaves)

Dear Trixie,

Something is bothering me. Something is really bothering me, Trixie, you know? I’m wondering about something, and I’m wondering and wondering about it, and I’m wondering if you’re wondering about it too. I’m hoping you’re wondering about it too.

I’m wondering if you think I’m real, Trixie. I know, I know, it’s a very specific thing to be wondering about, and I know it’s a very odd thing for someone like you to be wondering about, but I’m still wondering if you think I’m real.

I mean, I just don’t know anymore. I just don’t really know.

It seems like the world is full of people telling me what I am. They tell me that I’m too somber, and they tell me that I’m too loud. They tell me that I’m too humble and nice, and they tell me that I’m too vain and insecure.

But no matter what they tell me and no matter how sure of themselves they seem to be, nothing that they say seems to fit. That’s the issue. How can they be so sure of what they see in me, and how can I feel so – just, I don’t know, just so damned uncomfortable all the time? Because it gets to the point where it feels like I’m just lying to every single one of them, giving them the personality that they expect, that they want. And then I’m left here, and I haven’t even got a clue.

Oh, I just want to get away, Trixie. I just want to get away, and I just want to leave them all behind me. I have to, simply, simply have to get away from here, all these people and their ideas of what I am and what I am not.

But then what am I without them? How can I know who I can be without people letting me know who I can’t be, right? No man is an island, right? But then why do I feel so at peace when I’m alone in the ocean, bobbing up and down on the waves in my little dinghy where all their voices are drowned out by the water lapping lightly against the side of my leaky vessel.

So what am I to do, Trixie? I have all of this in my head, and I really just want you to tell me what I am to do.



The 24th of April 2002 – Berkeley, California

(found fluttering through some graveyard somewhere or something)

Hello Karen,

I’m writing quickly, and I don’t mean to disturb you, but I was hoping to pick up our conversation. It’s been so long – too long, of course – but I remember that we used to write with such regularity. I was hoping that maybe things could go back to the way they used to be for a second.

I don’t know how I feel. Of course, Karen, you must remember that – me saying that, I mean. I have that tickle right between my shoulder blades, and no matter how hard or how much I shrug and grimace, it stays just right there.

I keep moving on from things. Things – people, places with smiles and memories – keep slipping away from me, back into my mind where I might forget them.

It’s a weird feeling, to have moved on from something, but to still feel it, to still feel it around you, and to still feel like you’re there. It’s a weird feeling, to still have those thoughts, those fantasies from past lives, those dreams of idyllic futures and to want them to come true, still. It’s a weird feeling to have to remind yourself that all of that is just long gone.

It’s a weird feeling to realize that no matter what, the greatest change in life is just a change in tense. The things we do, we now did. The people we see, we now saw. The love we feel, we now felt. And it’s all just a change in tense. It’s something so simple, so seemingly superficial, but devastatingly permanent. That change in tense just can’t be changed back again.

Everything piles up and builds up on the ground around us, those changed tenses. We look down and see some shadowy mound in the grass, by our legs, threatening. We wonder if it breathes, if it ever did, or if it ever could.

It’s not a corpse, the body lying at my feet, but it is dead to me. It has to be – dead, I mean. It’s dead whether I like it or not, and maybe I do – like it, I mean. That’s disturbing, isn’t it? Or maybe it just is.

The views, Karen. I miss the views the most. I always have.

With heartfelt love,


The 17th of March 2014 – Washington, D.C.

(found totally in a place that totally has nothing to do with him)


Oh my dear, Dearie, my dear,

See, I’m writing this while drunk. I might rewrite it, just to make it legible or coherent, but the ideas are going to be the same, I think.

(Editor’s Note: The original copy was both fairly legible and coherent.)

I’ve just spent an hour and a half trapped in the same room with you, Dearie, trapped with you in a room while a man droned on and on about the importance of lavender cultivation to the future of all humanity. It was something like that, I think. I wasn’t really paying attention. I was staring at you, Dearie. I was actually trying so hard to keep from staring at you, and I was failing spectacularly for an hour and a half.

But that’s only half the truth. See, Dearie, I’ve spent this whole year, this whole time – however long it’s been – trying so hard to keep from staring at you, and I haven’t done a great job at it.

There’s some glorious, fantastic, and horrendously foolish middle school quality to the way I feel about you, and I don’t know what it is. I don’t even know how to explain it. But it’s there. So I’ll just try to say it.

It may be one of those things that’s probably best left unsaid, but it feels too important to forget, so I’m going to write it down, and I’m going to send it straight to you.

Dearie, I’ll just say that every single time I’ve seen you, I’ve smiled, and I’ve smiled in a way that I just couldn’t help. Dearie, every single time I’ve tried with everything I could come up with to make you smile too, and whenever you did, I’d be nearly blinded, to be honest. Sunsets don’t seem as pretty, Dearie, now that I’ve seen your smile. Nothing does, and I fear that I’ll be ruined for a good long while.

So listen, maybe there’s some magic window of time when we could get dinner or a drink or just sit on a beach somewhere and listen to the waves crash down against the sand. You can watch the sunset. I’ll just watch you.

I’m going to have some more vodka and maybe sleep well for once in my life.

Goodnight, Dearie.


The 8th of June 1987 – Lansing, Michigan

(found under a pile of maize and blue)

Hey Patty,

I think that’s your name. I hope it is, anyway. I really hope it is.

I think I should introduce myself. My name is Charles. A lot of people call me Charlie, and some call me Charlie Brown. A lot more would call me Charlie Brown if they knew I still existed.

There are two things you need to know about me before anything else.

First of all, I have one of those faces. People recognize me. People recognize me all the time, but they just don’t remember who I am or how they know me. Sometimes these people actually have never met me. They just, through some strange circumstance, have an ability to recognize me out of the blue. But then there are others I know and have had conversations with about the weather or the football game or something like that, but they don’t know me either. They recognize me, but they never know me.

I only shrug.

Second of all, I used to pitch in Little League baseball. I was an alright pitcher, not great and not terrible either. I was really accurate as a pitcher. I could throw the ball exactly where I wanted it, place it – thoughtfully – anywhere on the plate. But I could never throw it hard. I could never throw it fast. I had no fireball. I had no heat.

I ended up striking a lot people out, though. They’d always swing hard – way, way ahead of the pitch – and the ball would just float right past. I think it just confused them.

And no matter what happened in the game, I’d sulk off the mound. I’d sulk almost anywhere, I guess, but I’d sulk off the mound, and my coach would tell me to smile. I have a lot of childhood memories that end with people telling me to smile.

So it’s no big deal, really, but I wanted to tell you that you’re just a nice person. Maybe it’s weird, but it’s no big deal, so don’t worry about it. I just wanted to let you know that I really do find you attractive and that I really cannot stop looking at you when you come into a room, if that makes any sense. I hope it doesn’t bother you, but I just couldn’t keep this to myself.