Letters to J. - Cindy Pereira

Dear J-----


Is it arrogant to say that I died for your wife and kids? Like the Baby Jesus, I repented for your sins. Remember that naked Barbie doll nailed to the cross made out of sticks? Holy shit. Serves us right though for breaking into the MacPhersons’ garage. Do you know if Juniors’ come out as a Nazi or a Satanist yet? That ounce of shake wasn’t worth it, at all.


Love you baby,

Syd


***


Dear J-----


You were king of bad jokes. Like, what did John Lennon say to the crowd at his concert at Whole Foods? Give peas a chance! Did you hear about the cow that got two of his legs chopped off? That’s okay! He’s all right now.


It’s all in the delivery, Syd. It’s all in the tone. You taught me so much. I swear, sometimes you were more like a Dad than anything.


If you ever get pregnant, I swear I’ll throw you down the stairs.


You ever tell her that one, babe?


Yours forever and always,

XoXo Syd


***


Dear J-----


Facebook sources say that you and your Mom are getting along just fine. Have you forgiven her yet for stabbing you with that butcher knife when you were nine?


You’re one step closer to the life you used to dream about when you were a little kid: white picket fence, little brick house, the wife, the kids…


I don’t think you’ll be able to get that potbellied pig.


Love you forever,

Syd


***


Dear J-----


I miss your snaggle-tooth. I miss your Mad Professor hair. How you cursed when you came. I wept when you curled your fingers, and sang.


You’re still the Heathcliff to my Cathy.

I am moored.


Your darling girl,

Syd


***


Dear J-----


Taurus always suited you. Bullheaded. Decadent. Homebody. Unsure. I scan the Edmonton Sun for your obituary on Mondays.


I told you how my Auntie Jane made my Uncle Bob sell his bike after they got hitched, right? Her best friend’s boyfriend died in a crash just two weeks before their wedding day. Gosh. Isn’t that just the absolute fucking worst? You don’t ride but you do look like a biker with your raggedy beard, chipped tooth, and nasty habit of getting clocked about the head.


I don’t know why I’m writing you this. I was just thinking of you, I guess. I couldn’t stand thinking of you dead, but if you die, I’ll make sure they put your ashes in a Folgers tin—just like you said.


Xoxo,

Syd


***


Dear J-----


You hack. You stole that from The Big Lebowski, didn’t you?



Syd.


***


Dear J-----


Do you remember the day you kissed the tic-tac earthworm scars that line the inside of my arm? I loved you then, but I loved you more when you pulled up your own shirt and showed me your cigarette burns. I thought my heart would explode out of my throat and splatter you with raspberry gore when you handed me some washable markers.


You said Hey, let’s fix this.


And then we dyed your beard. Turns out you shouldn’t use Crayola in hair. I look like the Grinch, you said. Better the Grinch than the Heffalump I said. Then we kissed and I missed Intro to Postmodern Lit and you were ten minutes late for work at the Shell station.


Yours,

Syd.


***

Dear J-----


But when I relapsed and pulled my sewing kit out from underneath my bed. You looked at the inside of my wrist like it was a crime scene or something.

You worked your jaw and then…


You threatened to beat the actual shit out of me.


My therapist winced when I told her that it was a joke. Love isn’t always Hallmark cards and Ed Sheeran songs, I said. Yes, but it doesn’t have to be this.


-Syd


***


Dear J-----


I saw you scowling at me on the train. Right before the fireworks on Canada Day. Was it my long black jacket brushing against my bare white legs?


Or was it my mouth—peach-coloured, slick.


Lipstick is sticky, it gets all over my chin, you said. It makes you look like a whore. It also makes you look like a little girl. Your eyelashes look like spider legs.


Before every date I scrubbed my face with ice water and Dove soap. I bit my knuckles as I ripped strips of skin from my bikini line. I bleached my upper lip.


Now I’m going to Legislature dressed like David Bowie at the end of the Man Who Fell to Earth, and your wife is cooing your son’s name.


Her face is bare. Yours is craggy.

Syd.


***


Dear Jay,


I was making a list of things that you ruined the other day, but then I scratched that shit out and started to write the things that you left unsullied instead.


Autumn. Pumpkin spice lattes. Birthday cake vodka. Tom Hardy’s lips. Vertigo comics. Literature, as a whole. My dog, Bugsby (I should’ve known you weren’t worth shit when Bugsby bared his teeth), the colour purple, McDonalds, pink lemonade, and root-beer. My friends. My hair. My therapist, Jeanine, Christmas trees (especially of the Charlie Brown variety), and my cousin, Nan (who said you looked like fat Son of Sam), Animethon.


Snowball fights. Burnt toast with jam.


Sincerely yours but mostly my own,

Syd.


Cindy Pereira is currently working to obtain her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. Her work has been published in 'Chronically Lit' and 'The Maynard.' She spends most of her time in Alberta, Canada.


*This story is the 2nd runner up for the Winter 2021 Short Story Contest

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