Epistolary (letters & Diaries)

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We Contain Multitudes
Excerpt

Dear Little JO,*

I guess when you read this letter you’ll be sitting right here looking at what I’m looking at. The front of Ms. Khang’s English classroom with the old-?fashioned blackboard and the posters offamous book covers and the Thought of the Day and this new thing, this big wooden box painted in bright colors. I mean you don’t know me because I just drew your name randomly. And if you’re in grade ten this will be your first course with Ms. Khang, which means you don’t know her as a teacher yet either. Pretty weird getting a letter from a total stranger I bet. Or how about getting a letter period, in this day and age.
Khang stands up there taking as much time as possible telling us what this box is for. She’s turning it around and around to show off her paint job, tilting it forward to show the two slots in the top, pointing out the separate combination lock for each lid. All that buildup. After a while we’re all expecting doves to fly out of it or something. And then poor Khang looks all disappointed when we’re disappointed that it turns out to be only a mailbox. Which is the whole problem with buildup. Well you’ll see it foryourself pretty soon I guess.
On the board it says Introduce Yourself. So my name is Adam Kurlansky and this is Grade Twelve Applied English. One of the courses I flunked last year, which now I’m regretting because this assignment is not something I’m all that interested in. A letter every week for the entire semester. *JO stands for Jerkoff in case you were wondering. I’m sticking it here in the middle of the letter instead of at the top because Khang wants us to hold up the paper to show her before we put it in the envelope. To prove we actually filled the minimum one page, since she’s not actually planning on reading our letters herself. If she asks me I guess I’ll just say JO is short for your name, Jonathan.
Don’t take it the wrong way. I figure it’s fair game to call you a little jerkoff even though I don’t know you personally because I was one too, as a sophomore. Only most likely not as little. I was already pretty close to my full height by then: six foot three.
I mean I see you all in the halls with your faces turning red whenever I catch you staring at me. You’re like these arcade gophers popping in and out of holes. People know who I am because of being a bunch of credits behind and not graduating and having to come crawling back for the so-called victory lap. Or not because of that. More likely because of football I guess. Because they decided to let me keep playing football.

Sincerely,
Adam Kurlansky

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Swan Dive
Excerpt

... lies are maybe like cancer cells, spreading just for the heck of it. It’s like the first one goes rogue and takes on a life of its own and then the rest keep going because they can’t help it, they’re cancer cells and that’s what they do.

Because after she calmed down, Elle took me to the couch and she made me put my head in her lap and she ...told me she was skipping her visit to Jimmy’s this spring so she could be there for me, and Mindy was already buying a frozen lasagna to bring over because knowing Mama, she was probably in no state to cook.

Then she sang Cher’s “Believe.” Except for the second verse because she couldn’t remember it.

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Ophelia
Excerpt

Actually, there’s something I have to tell you. Last spring, I went with the other grade nine classes to see a Shakespeare play. Even if I didn’t really get the whole story and all its battles, violence, cries and tragic destinies, from the very start I liked the sad prince and his fiancée, driven crazy by love, who drowned herself in the river. Her name was Ophelia, an incredibly gentle name, don’t you think? She looked as though she were asleep on the riverbed, so beautiful in her wet gown clinging to her body and her hair like golden seaweed. Ever since, I’ve taken her name in secret. You’re the first to know.

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