The letter

A Short Story

Alan Headspeath


28th December, 2009 

Inside, my cheek is bleeding from all the words I’m keeping trapped. The previous letter I wrote to you, explaining about the job I’ve got, the life I lead; they were lies. 

Those advertisements I answered, the promise of a better future: delusions. It destroys me, that before now, I daren’t say what’s true, because I understand you. You couldn’t live with what I’ve become. When I used to visit my mama, you thought of me as the nice girl next door. You didn’t know; I couldn’t tell you. I didn’t want to reach out, leave you with empty space. I have my own.

Yet now I need to tell you, why I didn’t. You deserve the truth, an explanation. My words spill out and fill this page. They’re covered in the blood from my raw cheeks, not cavernous enough to hold them. These last eight months of my twenty-four years, I’ve failed at this lie of a life.  

Here, hearts have no place.

Promises of glamour and fortune amounted to tacky mascara and crimson lipstick. The home I once envisaged, became a house of soiled sheets, cracked sinks and hair-filled drains; a thousand miles from home. 

Words I’ve tried to say remained protected behind the armour of my teeth. Please try to understand. My only intention was to live, to dance in the light of my own achievements. Instead, from the warm anonymity of my mouth, words are writhing in the exposure of truth. 

They’re out, I can’t take them back. Sustained deception. Can you understand why, until now, I refused to let them?

I’m beautiful, don’t you think? The men always say that. Cosmetic. The clothes I wear, the yellow hair, a masquerade. But we were real once. Now I see my name where abandonment lives. Yet at first, I tried. I realised how burdensome these words could be for you. You weren’t prepared then, I understood that. Yet I was also carrying them, these words whose utterance, innocence destroys. 

My pain is now frequently soothed by the caress of a needle, the anaesthetic of deception. My friends are going through these heavy things also. They endure alone, as I did too, until finally I realised what not to do. I learned how to handle this barren desolation, the wasteland we inhabit.

Gone is the nest of dreams we weaved. 

Let them fly. By weaving my own, I can be for them, what I needed once from you. 

Find not yourself in this place: abandonment. 

I will stand in their space with them. People can find me in the classifieds. 

It’s what I’ve become. 

Advertising space. 


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