The 14th of October 1977 – Salem, Massachusetts

(found by the wastebasket at the foot of the stairs)

My Dear Aunt Sally-

Oh, excuse you! (Will I ever tire of that joke?)

Of course not. Of course not, dear Aunt Sally. No!

Oh, do not come to visit. I know it was planned and that it was planned from a time so long ago up until this very moment, but do not – do not, not, not – come to visit.

I’ve come down with a little cold or something. I’ve been in bed for weeks with it. It’s just been me and a mug of tea and my bed for weeks. Or months, maybe. Or centuries.

So do not come. I am still not well. There is more time that I need to spend with nothing but my bed and my mug of tea.

So excuse me, dear Aunt Sally, for throwing such a wrench into the machine.

Oh, there is something else, and there it is. I look up from my kitchen table, and there it is.

There is a deer in the backyard. There has been a deer in the backyard for weeks, months. Centuries. The deer is there. It just stands there, staring.

Staring at me with big eyes – I’ve seen them before, those eyes – the deer stands there. When it opens its mouth, I hear a foghorn. An old foghorn, like you’d hear out on the cape. Its ears twitch slightly, and it chews on a chunk of grass. It’s always chewing on something, for hours and hours.

I see it chewing, but I never see it bending its head down to rip out a chunk of cud. I always see it chewing. And it just chews and stares at me with big eyes – of course, I’ve seen those big eyes before.

Who knows what will happen? This deer standing here, always.

Perhaps we’ll meet soon. But, again with apologies, do not come to visit.

-Betsy

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