My Dearest Mary,
This is all for you. Just like everything else in our time together. I know you will never hear this as the ground has grown cold. I know that our little one will never hear it either, but these are my final words to you. My thoughts of you. My love for you. I will proclaim them for the world to hear. People will rush with pins to write it down. But they will run out of room. The page will be filled before I finish my tribute to you. When this happens I will offer my heart. Scribes, write upon my still beating heart. Tattoo it into the flesh. That way our story will live forever, the way it should be. We will be reconnected and forever always.
My dearest Mary,
It seems like forever since I’ve last been by your side even though I know that it has only been a day. What has been only a few short hours has made me question the qualities of time. Does it exist? Is there a future or has it already happened? Is there even a past? I know there is a past. I have a past, and it’s full of you.
You always wondered if you could touch the moon. You’d reach and reach, but you could never quite reach it. It was being difficult and you were being stubborn. I wonder what you would have done if you did touch it. Would you take the rocks and make an idol to our love or would you take your nail and cut it deep? The oceans hidden under the surface would flow, and we would be carried away together. There are reasons to live and reasons to die, and the moon drowning us is not a reason to stop living. I would hold your hand. I would keep you close so you could hear my heartbeat. I would listen for yours but you would keep me away. Always away now. In the moon ocean’s light, in the middle of the lightless night, you would fight, but I’d hold on tight with all of my might.
Walking down the street has reminded me of the time we went to that island. I hope you would remember. I know you would have. I remember. They say that the people there used to draw circles on the rocks whenever they needed help or the gods or the fates or whatever is out there to come full circle. From start to completion. The imagery and idea is there. Circles up and down those cliffs. For lost loved ones. For people they wanted to see again. Those poor souls, lost, constantly to look for something they would never see again. My circle is drawn for you.
Mary, my love,
Do you remember that trip to the zoo? The bears were out and you complained of the smell coming from the penguins. I loved them, and you wanted to leave. While a fond memory, that is not the point of this correspondence. Do you remember seeing the love birds? I read the sign. If one dies, the other wanders aimlessly before dying a lonely death. A morbid message for such beautiful birds. Sometimes I wonder if they fly just to feel the wind beneath their wings. Travel- no destination in mind. I wonder where it would fly. Would it end up in Prague? Visit St. Vitus Cathedral or see the astronomical clock. That’s where I’d go. Maybe Lake Zug. Maybe even Toledo, Ohio and see the smoke stacks. Their putrid ooze creeping into the air where the bird would fly. Even that would be better. Anywhere would be better. So it could forget about what it had lost. So it could fly away and be free. So I could be free.
My lovely Mary,
There were some nights when we stayed up until the stars started to disappear and the sun soon replaced them. Those nights you made me hold you close because you were afraid of what you might discover. You would try to figure out what you thought life’s philosophy was, and I would nod in rapt attention. Like an old philosopher who lost his nose, you believed that this world was the best of all possible worlds. I cannot remember his name. But I do remember you believed this. That is what bothered you. “If this is the best of all possible worlds” you would exclaim, “how can there be people who are sad?” I did not know how to answer you then, and I do not know how to now. If this is the only world we shall ever live in, then it is the best we will ever know. Yet it is impossible to explain the sadness. But maybe you have finally found the best possible world. In which case tell me about it. I promise to nod.
I remember having a conversation with your father. He told me about a time when you broke the household tv. Running inside no doubt. When it fell over nobody knew what to say- they just stared. You stared too. Then began to cry. Loud and you wouldn’t stop. Looking back on it now, he finds it funny. So do I. Even back then you couldn’t let there be any silence. It was too overwhelming. Silence is when people are sad. Silence is when people are disappointed. Silence is when hearts start to break. Like at funerals. You always had a talent to disperse with uncomfortable silences. Talking was your weapon of choice. Whether what you said meant anything was not important. Just so the silence was gone. Mary, did I ever tell you why I started my business? Ten years ago I opened my first amplifier store. Do you know why? I think you’d laugh if you knew. I wanted to make it easier for you to get rid of the silence.
My Dearest Mary,
I’ve begun my voyage in a paper boat to the bottom of the sea, and I will fly to the moon in it. It has been folded along a crease in time, a weakness in the sheet of life. Now, you’ve settled on the opposite side of the paper to me; I can see your traces in the ink that soaks through the parchment. When we become waterlogged, and the page disintegrates, we will intermingle. Once again be together. The boat shoots higher and higher, and with luck, we will end among the stars.
As I walk down by the trees where we had our first date I wonder if you are getting the presents I am leaving for you. In the interim space between the trees and the hospital and the here and the now, I would leave you those little stuffed creatures that you loved so much. But they stopped making them! The numbers are running out. I have but a few left. You’ve gotten what I had, and I will leave all I will ever have by the tree with the inscription. The inscription that said I shall always give to you. And I will. I will find more of those stuffed woodland creatures, somehow, and leave them for you. But I’m afraid that they will all begin to murmur and chatter and we will be driven to an early insanity. Sometimes I feel like I’m already too late for that.
To You. Only You
Birth is not supposed to lead to death. Birth is supposed to give life. You got it confused and took everything away from me. I’m going to sound petty and vengeful, but I think You can forgive me my one moment of weakness. I had known Mary for years. More than that. Infinity. An infinity without knowing her but knowing her in every fiber of my being. And You took her away from me. We had known about You for nine months. We had planned on knowing You for more months before You actually existed. We were excited to see You. A combination of the two of us- to let us glimpse what a perfect combination of her beauty and brain would look like if had a bit of my drab insanity. But we will never get to see that. Because You took it away. We rushed to the delivery, and I will say again, birth is not supposed to lead to death. You were our hope. We talked about You night after night. We were ready to dedicate our entire lives to You, and You ruined that. And, because of You I cannot bear my soul to her about losing You. I cannot confide in You about losing her. I have no one. That is why I carry this torch.
My cherished Mary,
One time I had a dream, I swear I did, where I was on the northern part of the sun. Its heat cooked me. Charred me. My teeth will explode and my ears will melt into my pockets. Sometimes I wonder why the only physical transformations I had were to my face. If only my paper boat had a bottom I could search for an answer. But, unfortunately, I would be forced to swim and you know how the salt water affects my ears. Melted or no, that is a risk I am unwilling to take.
Sometimes I walk to the edge of the lake. You know the one. Sometimes I stare into its murky mire and think. I think long and hard Mary. I swear that I do. It has happened several times, my mind starts to ponder and wonder and wander and believe. What if I took one more step? What if I decided to join you in the night? I start to think “I would never do that” but then correct myself “tonight says I might”. I would swim through the dark. Light would escape my eyes and provide a path to you. Would I find you? Would the cold water creep around me and end my search? Would God reach down to me and pluck me out of the water? Dry me off and wag his finger at me for trying something so stupid? Ninety-nine times out of one hundred my swim would fail. I would never find you. But that one chance would be all I needed. My eyes have turned on, the light begins shine, and I will continue my search.
Sometimes when I close my eyes I can hear the waves. They drown out the sound of your voice. When I open my eyes again, they disappear and I am forced to be reminded of your melodies. I would keep them closed indefinitely, but that proved impossible. And it did not help. The waves in my ears reminded me of the waves of your hair. Your beautiful hair. You always wanted to change its color, and I could not figure out why. I always liked it natural. I didn’t like that you wanted to try to hide who you are. Worse than that, I didn’t like that you wanted to change who you are. I liked the way you are. That is who I wanted to be with. When you changed that I was always worried that other things would change. Like would you still settle for me? I always felt that you knew you could do better. It was a charity that you chose to stay with me. You’d deny it when I asked you. Tried to convince me that you loved me. I believed you every time.
I have become convinced that I have rented the spare room in our house to someone. I do not remember who as I do not remember renting it to anybody. All I know is that I am not alone here. This may be circumstance as I remember finding paper left out in which I made the paper boat and one of your stuffed creatures was not in the bedroom like it belonged. I wonder, if for some reason, I brought it out. Look at it and hope to see you one last time. Why I would leave myself such clues in my nocturnal wanderings is beyond my grasp. Maybe my subconscious knows how to please you better than I do. That is a bad thought to ponder. The candles on my path have been lit. Who, as I still do not believe it was me and was quite possibly my new roommate, did this is not a problem. A hearty thanks shall be in their future for they have lit a strange pathway for those who are bound to follow.
My fiery Mary,
Creation started from nothing. No, this is not true. In the burning flame everything was created. From the burning flame everything will end. My pain, my past, your loss- flame will bring to a close my sappy narrative. This is why I have my torch.
I got on your Facebook account to make the required changes. The doing of which was enforced not by will but out of sheer necessity. If it could have remained undone, it would have. This is not out of my laziness (comparable to that of a sloth) but out of my unwillingness to change the present. If this is the best of all possible worlds, then changes like this would never have to be made by someone like me. The profile gets turned off, the masquerade comes to an end. The mask of brilliant gold that you wear accentuates your delicate features. My mask of plain white accentuates my brilliance as compared to yours. You are glowing, my shining beacon. To the lighthouse you lead. When we make it to the top I will remove my mask. When I do, you will see the tears coming from my eyes.
My dearest Mary,
There are many things that are forever in time (time being one of them). For all of our better knowledge, the sun is the beginning and end, alpha and omega. It was here long before the dawn of the first man and when it goes out mankind will go out with it. The only thing that will remain once the sun reaches its inevitable end will be a hollow shell of what Earth used to be. Dried up, barren, cold. A fossilized Earth. A small portion of what it used to be. That is the sad thing about time. As it passes, everything seems to get worse. No, I’ve lied to you. Time does nothing to affect how we look at things. No, it is forgettable. Our perception changes. As we continue to look at something it eventually becomes boring- less appealing than it was before. Everything is utterly unique and beautiful before anyone looks at it, but as soon as we do it becomes commonplace and disappointing. That is why I wish I had never laid my eyes on you. As soon as my eyes came across your face you had believed that you lost something and you tried desperately to get it back. You felt incomplete and you searched desperately for what you had lost. Mary, you never should have. In my eyes, my mind caught you that very first time and that is how you will stay. Perfect.
I will return to the place that started all of these correspondences. The wailings of first breaths, and the last breaths of two. One caused my wailing. When you are attempting to create but end up losing, this cannot possibly be the best possible world. Things are always supposed to work out for better. You cannot provide me with any examples of this. There are none, I checked. But the worst thing happened. It did, and I was witness. It is not fair that I am the only one who has to be the outlier. Everything works out for everyone else. They live in the movies where they are the protagonists. At the end of the movie they get the girl. At the end of my movie, I lost two. One I dedicated my life to, and one I was going to dedicate the rest of my life to. You were taken from me, and it was not fair. So I will take from them as well. To create a world of best scenarios, I will have to bring them down so I am not so low. For when everyone is as low as you are, you are at the top. A miserable, homicidal top. These basinets will always look familiar.
My feet are growing tired as is my arm that continues to carry this torch for you. I am growing weak in my old age. Do you remember when we were young and I used to hold you above my head while you giggled? I remember. Now I cannot even carry this torch down the street from our house to the hospital. But that is fine. I will leave this torch still lit at the foot of my tombstone. It will be up to you to come find me.
My dearest, love Mary,
This will be my final message to you. I wonder if you are getting them or they are piling up in your voicemail cluttering up your memory. Why I’m sending them to you I do not know. I do know that you will never get them. I can imagine you still sitting there, getting my calls and letting them go to voicemail so you can hear my voice once again and save them. It used to be one of the jokes you pulled on me. But I know you are not getting them. They probably number in the hundreds, and I’m still sending them. I cannot give myself a reason why I keep doing this, but I know it is important. Was important. Perhaps they are forming an obelisk to your memory and my foolishness. My sincerest hope is that they will somehow fossilize and make it into the public consciousness. They will stand the test of time from a man who has lost everything and become a capsule from my misery. This package I know will be returned to sender as you will not be there to sign for it. Unfortunate as it is, because I do not want it back and it my parting gift to you. During my final ascent, the last thing I want to say to you is: “I love you.” My dearest Mary, I will always love you.
About the Author
Bill Burris is pursuing a Master's Degree at Cleveland State University in Literature and received a Bachelor's degree in English from the Ohio State University.
He currently lives with his fiancée and pet pekingese in Lakewood, OH.