Dear Veronica,

Let me assure you this letter does not invalidate our avowal to despise each other until the implosion of the universe. You will never miss me as I have missed you, and if you think of me at all, I am certain you recollect only gashes, laryngitis, and ocean deep darkness.

But every time I see the sky, I think of you - how you used to stare at it worshipfully and then toss me a look like wildfire reflecting in clear water, ablaze with peace. You regarded me as you did stars and lightning, and together we alternately shone and struck each other, ultimately drifting apart like clouds, dispersing into the lonely blue shadows of mountain ranges...but I did not write you to wax poetic about the past.

I heard about the hospital. I imagined you in a white room with no window, that constant ache of awe extinguished from your eyes, and honestly, the thought of your spirit stifled in such a way was so disabling I felt like my hand had been cut off. At first, I could not comprehend it. How could someone as passionate as you ever feel so unreal, so dead inside? Then I remembered how you used to turn your canvases toward the wall, even in your studio, because they weren't paintings. They were you, and you couldn't handle people being unable to accept you. That is what has happened now, I think.

You're like blood, red and raw and vital, and it unsettles people, that intensity. So they denied it, denied you - told you to be less than you are, and you've turned away, hidden yourself in that room, so saturated with color you can't see it anymore. But I still do.

You're true, Veronica. You're alive. I just thought you should know.

With the utmost loathing and devotion,

Claire