Speculative Contemporary

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

warning: depression, unreliable narrator

To Whom This May Concern,

Sometimes I think about the future. And it can be good — and then it can be bad. Sometimes I think about the past. And it can be good — and then it can be bad. Sometimes I think about the present. It can be good — and, yes, bad too. 

So, where in time is it always good and never bad? 

Nowhere in time, probably. 

This is only my personal experience, and my personal experiences might not overlap with yours. Perceptions aren’t like two metal rings that can be interlocked together, like those disentanglement puzzles you can find at a hobby store. Do you know what I’m talking about? If I could show you a picture, I would. But I can only sublimate the image from my brain to yours by using abstract phonemic symbols that have no meaning unless linked together someway somehow. It’s got to be the “right” way. Or close to the “right” way. Right way enough, anyhow. 

For example, tis i$ clθse enuff.

But this is not close enough: k1n r!xv @enβcf. 

Sometimes I think I’m getting close. The symbols make words, and there’s even meaning to them, too. But the meaning isn’t exactly what I want it to be. Do you get what I mean? Well, you might’ve guessed it already; I’m no good with words. I’m bad at writing. I’m even worse at talking, let me tell you. You could ask my family and friends. They’d tell you, and they’d say it much better than I could. 

What’s this all about, anyway? ‘This’ is being used as a vague word for everything everywhere all the time instantaneously. That’s quite a lot. ‘That’ is being used as a vague word for what I just wrote. Like I said, I’m not very good at it. ‘It’ is referring to writing. I’m no good at writing what I’m trying to mean. My writing doesn’t render enough clarity, I’m told. I need to return to the first draft and try again. Be clearer.

This page belongs to me, and I belong to this page. But we’re both beaten to a bloody pulp by my perception which is controlled by my brain. That’s the lonely part about being an individual. Individuals are controlled by subjective realities which are controlled by brains.  

Subjective realities are kind of like those pretty floating ice-dust rings hugging some planets. They orbit, they spin, they break, pulled by a powerful gravity. The powerful gravity is the Objective reality (capital O). We can feel the ultimate Objective reality pulling us, but we can’t really melt into it or meld with it. Melt? Meld? One of those. A little abstract symbol will change a whole word, and I don’t know which word I mean to use this time. If I could merge, melt, meld, or whatever, my mind with yours, I would. And then you could tell me which word I mean to use. But I can only hope what I mean is transmitted across times and subjective realities to you via this letter full of abstract phonemic symbols that I hope have meaning linked together this way.   

I feel like I’m from outer space sometimes. But I’m not. I’m just from Earth. That’s what the aliens said. They abducted me when I was ten years old. They were purple with TV antennas on top of their heads. Their planet wasn’t hugged by pretty floating ice-dust rings. It was just a nugget of polar ice caps. But they were all fine and dandy about it. They thought Earth was the lonely planet, not theirs. And humans were some of the loneliest creatures they’d ever come across. Humans don’t have telepathy, the aliens explained. So how can humans ever understand each other, truly?

The aliens were just a nightmare I had, probably. That’s what my psychologist said. I wasn’t very good at telling her about my thoughts. Otherwise, we would’ve been on the same page. But we weren’t. She thought one thing about my thoughts, and I thought another thing about my thoughts. They’re not real, she said. They’re real to me, I said. Are you sure you don’t have any repressed memories? she said. Not that I can recall, I said. She theorized I was blocking out traumatic memories. I don’t think that’s the case. My thoughts are my subjective reality. That’s what it means to be on different pages. (Please write back and let me know if you remember something. We might be gay. But it’s hard to tell.) 

In any case, this page is mine and I’m this page’s. 

You. Me. We.

And to Whom This May Concern. 

‘Who’s my audience?’ That’s always the question when it comes to writing. Write for your audience. It’s the reason I’m bad at writing. 

I’m bad at writing because I write for you, always. I know you’ll get what I mean. If not now, then. If not then, before. Is — Was — Will be. That’s what I mean. I know we’re on the same page. I know I don’t have to elaborate. You are me, as you always were, when you dragged your eye across the abstract symbols at the beginning of this letter, decoded them, and made meaning. I’m always concerned. That’s why this letter concerns me and is addressed to whom it may be.

Hello, welcome again to the letter to myself. 

From Me to Me, and Me to You. We—

got sick of it all pretty early on. We figured out it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Here I am, using another vague word: ‘It.’ What am I referring to? You know what I’m referring to because you are me. So I won’t say anything more on the matter.

At twenty-two years old, we moved back in with our parents. Remember that? Maybe you’re lightyears ahead of me. Or maybe I’ve jumped the gun, and you haven’t even been born yet. Anyway, you’ll get there eventually. We were barely ninety pounds and had fallen out of the habit of talking. Our parents made us eat. They made us talk. We didn’t see the use in it. ‘It’ is referring to talking. Also: ‘it’ is referring to eating. Like I said, we were sick of it all. We’d been sick of it all from pretty early on. 

You and I are like those disentanglement puzzles you can find in hobby shops. We’re all twisted up together in a brain teaser. Metal rings. Mental rings. I know which word I mean to use this time. You know which word I mean to use, too. As you know, I mean to use both words simultaneously. 

Perceptions are like two metal rings that can be interlocked together. 

Is that different from what I said earlier? 

Don’t let that confuse you. I’m a different person now. I’m a different person every minute. Every minute, I hope I’m a better person, but that’s not the case. I’m better and then I’m worse and then I’m doing just fine and then I’m great and then I’m doing just downright awful. That’s how it goes. 

Who am I? Who are you? What’s this all about, anyway? 

Listen: I have no idea.

You won’t ever have any idea. You are me. And we’re clueless idiots, I’m sorry to say. Even if I could merge or melt or meld my mind with yours, we’d find no answers. And we’d still be as clueless and lonely as ever. Sorry about that. We’re only human. 

If you’re from the future or if you’re from the past, I think everything about you everywhere all the time instantaneously. That’s quite a lot to think about. It’s no wonder my thoughts can’t be real. And it’s no wonder the aliens didn’t keep me.

The good news is this: We have a dog. And having a dog is all it’s cracked up to be, let me tell you. I was going to eat a buttload of pills. I was doing just downright awful, you see. But that dog loved me so much and I loved that dog so much too that I changed my mind. Maybe that’s what this is all about. I don’t know. What I do know is this: A dog is a place in time that’s always good and never bad. To me, at least. For now. Forever, maybe. 

You get what I mean.    

From Me to Me, and Me to You,

—Us + dog

May 15, 2022 20:55

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Zack Powell
00:32 May 23, 2022

Let me be the first to formally welcome you to Reedsy, Cado! Thanks for sharing this one ('one' is being used as a vague word for your story 😉) with us, and I hope you find what it is you're looking for from this site - it's a great community. I very much enjoy unreliable narrators, so this made for a gripping read. Definitely one of the more cerebral pieces I've seen on here. The voice was consistent throughout (it definitely helps that you have a lot of good phrases and images that recur, such as the metal/mental rings and melt/meld) and...


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Rabab Zaidi
16:36 May 21, 2022



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