Letters


It was more than one thing that drove Hilary mad. For example: her brother was sitting in a lime green deck chair, chewing on his pencil.  He was talking about turtles, in that weird creepy way that made her want to grab the picture of the turtle off the desk and tear it into teeny tiny shreds and throw them in his weird creepy face. From the hole in his sock to his crooked umbrella, he epitomized everything loathsome to Hilary.

We found some letters from Amsterdam in a trunk in the back of the laundry room. The laundry room smelled like my grandmother, or possibly like everyone’s grandmother. Starchy. The trunk was well sealed, and contained the letters and odds and ends of a long-gone relative, Charlotte, to her school mate, Sheila. The letters were silly and full of petty complaints, as is typical of school girls.

“On Tuesday, Margaret told me she liked the little oranges with the seeds better than the ones I brought. I hated her for that.” write Charlotte one rainy April. They’d had a fight, which settled itself in the next letter, with tears and protestations of love.

Sheila came to town to visit Charlotte later that month, and they went to a movie. The last time they’d been to a movie, it was silent except for the organ player in the orchestra pit. This time, full sound and it was an exciting event that carried over for at least two visits, with much admiration for the leading man and comparisons made to the leading lady and her big dark eyes.

Shortly thereafter, Donald began to appear in Charlotte’s letter. They were neighbors or friends or cousins; it was not altogether clear. They had scones and tea, they went to the movies, they laughed a lot, and they tried on scarves together on one outing. Then came this: that Donald liked hats and could write with both his right and left hands, and that that’s what he’d been doing on the day before he killed Sally.

 

 

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