request: sending or receiving a love letter
"It's happening again," she murmurs, as her fingers grasp another sheet of paper. The parchment scratches against her skin, cutting the tips a thousand times like little fish bites. Her heart beats in her chest at a rapid pace—twenty horses thundering down a racetrack—at just the sight of the faint pink envelope with her name and address stretched across the front in small cursive handwriting.
This letter can prove to be anything, but the font on the surface does strike a nerve in the back of her head. The etchings are so familiar, and other than the sudden piercing headache, her body seems to shut down. Her knees knock together, and she falls to the kitchen floor like a ragdoll.
She lies there, heart continuing to race in her chest, eyes rolling in their sockets. She doesn't want to look at the letter, at the possibility of her forcing her way back into a life where she's no longer wanted.
She spends the night on the floor. Her mother finds her lying across the rug by the dish washer. "I was so worried about you, Lilian," the aging woman whispers into her confetti-blue hair. "You didn't answer my calls, and, and..."
Lilian shows her the letter, and her mother's face is a pale complexion. "Do you think—"
Lilian sits in her bedroom now. Her mother is fixing tea in the kitchen. She can hear the shifting of pots and pans down the hall, even with the door closed. The white walls are thin. Her hair is, too. Her nimble fingers run through the freshly dyed roots. Her hands start to shake at an alarming rate. Her eyes flick toward the window. The curtains are lightly waving at her. She wants to jokingly wave back, but a black shadow flies past the window. She squeals and jumps out of the bedroom, calling for her mother.
She drops the tea cup and saucer onto the floor as she rushes over to her daughter. "Lilian, what's wrong? Lili, dear, talk to me."
Lilian begins to sob. "There was—something—it—something—was—standing—outside—my—window!" she stutters, thrashing her arms about.
"Well, honey, do you think it could have been a bird?" her mother suggests.
Lilian grows red. "No! It was, was—"
Her mother shushes her and forces her into a dining chair. The wood lightly groans under her weight, but she doesn't say anything, just sits. "Mom," she starts. "I really think—"
"Be quiet, dear." A cup of tea is set in front of her. Her mother taps the brim. "We have a restraining order. Now, drink." She starts back over to the counter, fixing herself a cup after cleaning her previous mess.
Lilian stares at the liquid. "Restraining orders don't mean anything," she whispers to the hot beverage.
There's a reason why Lilian moved house shortly after graduating high school. There's a reason why she doesn't particularly enjoy going through the mail. There's a reason why she has fits at night.
And that reason is Edna Garvin.
Edna Garvin is the girl in the back of the classroom who draws naked women. Edna Garvin is the girl who dyes her hair too much to match her current "best friend's" favorite color. Edna Garvin is the girl who ate a dung beetle in the second grade. And Edna fucking Garvin is the girl who has been sending Lilian the obsessive love letters.
It had started the beginning of senior year. Lilian had an anatomy lecture first period. The teacher assigned them seats the second or third day of classes. Edna Garvin took possession of the chair beside Lilian.
Lilian couldn't just turn away from her whenever things became too overwhelming, having been the last one in the row. Sure, she could talk to the wall, but she'd rather kill herself.
Edna Garvin sat down next to her every day, and she brought the sour stench of moldy cheese and carnival vomit with her. Whenever she wasn't looking, Lilian used to dig in her backpack and spray the surrounding area in a bath of a Victoria's Secret product, but that wasn't often; Edna Garvin never turned around—she always stared at Lilian.
At first, Lilian tried to ignore her, but after one month… two months… eight months of the constant staring, she couldn't do it. She snapped and yelled at the strange classmate with greasy, fried, ginger hair and a face full of bad acne. She made Edna Garvin cry.
She didn't feel guilty, just proud.
She never really sat and thought how that moment could have been the catalyst of something dangerous.
Lilian received her first letter on her birthday—March twelfth. It was sticking out of her locker in a pink envelope. The writing on it was small and cursive, and it vaguely smelled of strawberries—the fragrance of her perfume.
She didn't think much of it as she snatched it out of the hinges and ripped off the top. It only took her three seconds to unfold the letter and read the content.
You looked beautiful today, with your blue hair matching your sweater. I wanted to talk to you… smell the dead skin cells on your face… taste them.
I'm thinking about dying my hair to be identical to yours, Lili. Wait, can I call you that? Oh, well… I'm gonna.
You're so pretty.
Lilian's heart stopped in her chest. She stuffed the letter in the deepest pocket of her backpack. She pushed the letter into the farthest part of her brain.
But then, she received two more at the end of the week.
Why haven't you talked to me? I miss you. Even though I see you every day, I still ache for a chance to weave my fingers through your hair… I chickened out. I'm not dying my hair blue.
I'll dye it red!
I miss you so much. I can't pluck up the courage to talk to you.
You're so perfect.
I constantly stare at you during classes.
I wish my skin was as clear as yours.
I wish my stomach was as flat as yours.
I wish I was you.
Lilian didn't think they could get any worse, but she was proved wrong when the letters started being sent to her home. Her mother found them before she did.
She came from school around three forty-five. Her mother called for her as she closed the front door.
"Lilian, come here." She was in the kitchen.
Lilian stepped in. "Yeah?"
"You… got a letter… I… read it."
Lilian spotted the pink envelope. She was already cautious. "What'd it say?"
Her mother paused. "I, well, I think this girl—I'm assuming it's a girl from the handwriting—has a crush on you." She laughed. Lilian frowned. "She's gushing out her feelings to you. It's kind of pathetic."
Yes, what was happening was pathetic. Yeah. The word was pathetic. Pathetic.
"Just throw it away," Lilian said, dragging herself to her room.
The next day, her mother told her she had another letter when she walked through the front door. "I didn't open it," her mom said, smirking. "Thought you might want to talk to your girlfriend."
Lilian snatched the letter. "Gee, thanks."
"It's a wonder how your girlfriend can afford all these pink envelopes."
Lilian shuffled to her bedroom, tossed the letter and backpack on the floor, decided to dye her roots.
She went to grab the hair dye, but her gaze dropped to the letter. Curiosity ate her mind. She sat on the floor and touched the letter, ripping it open. She read.
I think I might come to your house tonight, skin you alive. I love you so much. I want to wear your flesh as a delicate winter coat.
Your eyes are beautiful. Your hair is, too. Did you see me at school? I dyed my hair red, like I said I would. Except, it faded really bad, because I didn't take care of it.
Hahaha. I'm going to cut off your hair like Loki did to Sif.
Keep an eye out for me, sweetheart.
Lilian raised her head and immediately made eye contact with her open bedroom window. The curtains were waving at her. She waved back. A figure moved into her viewpoint, startling her.
It was Edna Garvin.
The letters had grown more violent, and her mother went to drastic measures—a restraining order was put down.
The love letters had stopped, and Lilian didn't see Edna Garvin for the rest of the school year.
Just to be on the safe side, she moved to a small house on the other side of town. Her mom kept in frequent contact, much to Lilian's relief.
Everything was going all right until that letter surfaced a year after the situation was said to be resolved.
Lilian has still not read the letter. It's been two or so weeks after the shocking delivery. She thinks it's about time. It may even be a college telling her she had been accepted, but… she knows it isn't.
So, she waits until her mother goes home that night to dig it out from under the piles of junk mail.
The top of it had been ripped off, but she hadn't had the courage to read through the letter in fear. She never really understood why she had come to be frightened of Edna Garvin. Perhaps it had to do with her being quiet, smelling like a cow patty, and having some sort of obsessive fascination with the female body. It didn't matter. Lilian was, and still is, terrified.
Therefore, it's only natural for her to be shaking as she slips the letter from the pink envelope. The paper slides against the tips of her fingers, reopening old cuts. She lets the blood stain the edges of the parchment.
The letter starts out the same, but the context of the paper—the essence—is different, and Lilian continues to shake as she reads word after word of the newly discovered letter from her secret admirer.
This morning, I thought of you
and how you are so pretty
with your hair made of blue.
There was something wrong with me,
and you were in the right
to be so mean.
I loved you with my whole heart.
I kind of wanted to eat it.
We were always made to drift apart.
I just wanted you to know,
with this small handwriting
and eyes of a doe,
since I can't have the blue dye
or the eyes to match,
then I'll slit my throat and die.
Because it's not fair
to allow the paper ban
of someone who cares
for you like no one else truly can.
(I'm bad at rhyming, but I love you.)
Lilian cries herself to sleep that night.
She emails one of her old friends from high school when she gets up the next morning. She uses the excuse "hey, we should catch up!" to get out of the house and gossip.
Her and her friend, Caitlind, meet at a coffee shop and talk for a few minutes. Before the smell of caffeine drifts her to relaxation, Lilian straightens up and scratches the hairspray from her scalp. "So," she starts. "I wonder what happened to that Edna Garvin chick." She laughs to cover up her real concern.
Caitlind chuckles with her before her expression turns solemn. "She killed herself a few weeks ago."
Lilian's demeanor drops to the ground, like an extra helping of gravity was placed on Earth's atmosphere. "Oh."
"Yeah, well. She was bound to do it sometime." Caitlind takes a sip of her coffee, shrugging a slim shoulder, black hair falling behind her.
"Yeah," Lilian agrees, touching her own cup. "About time."