Inbox (32)

April 12, 20XX, 4:27 PM 

from: river0919@mail.co

to me 

Dearest S.,

Let me start this email by saying I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s been four months since you departed with your books and trinkets in a blue suitcase, passport held tight in one hand, the holder a flashy neon green. I imagine I would have said something about how gaudy and avant-garde it was, and you would have said something snarky back, had everything been the same as it had been the years before. The city is still cold, even in spring, and you took my jacket with you. In your defense, you certainly needed it more.

I’m writing to you knowing that you’re still locked out of this address and will likely never read this. Well, assuming, more like. But you have made a new one immediately, and have been moving all of your accounts to it, so given you’ve miraculously remembered the password to this address, there would be no point in returning. But if you do, well. You’ll find me here. Hello. Sorry for making a space for myself where I’m not sure I will be welcome, and I’m sorry about my ramblings, my lack of eloquence, always, and potentially, to come. You know that between the two of us, you have always been the writer. Effective and matter-of-fact, always right to the point.

Here, now, I’m trying to do with words what I do with my voice and hands and steps, now unrehearsed, to a sole audience who forgets.

With that said, I hope you’re doing well.

R.

April 20, 20XX, 6:54 PM

from: river0919@mail.co

to me

Dear S.,

I cleaned the apartment and found stacks of documents and articles near our printer. I hope you didn’t forget and simply didn’t need them.

R.

April 20, 20XX, 6:57 PM

from: river0919@mail.co

to me

In retrospect, I should probably have sent the last email to your real address.

R.

June 11, 20XX, 01:16 AM

from: river0919@mail.co

to me

S.,

The grocery store two blocks down ran out of the yogurt you like just now. I dropped by after my show as I do every night, and they’re just not there. It’s a strange sight. Not that I have been actively paying attention. You know them—they were always well-stocked, taking up a whole fridge at the far right side of the store, where multitudes of them stand hugging the room, humming as one. Tonight the yogurt fridge alone looked like a hollowed beast, its skeleton illuminated.

I thought of the mammoths in the documents you left–the tuskless ones they had found along the rivers in the early twentieth century and taken to St. Petersburg, half-ravaged by wolves, half-preserved by the ice, cleaned and carefully erected on platforms. The locals had been hunting their tusks for a hundred years before the academy took the rest of their bodies. They have been hollowed of their worth to them, but they were the first complete ones. They were precious.

I thought of you, on the train going all over Russia, filing down pictures and stories the whole time. Inez showed me the photos you sent to Jonah. You look tired and hollow-cheeked in all of them, understandably, given the vicious cycle of working and living off what the tundras and moving cars have to offer to you. You glow in them, nonetheless. The kind that comes from the satisfaction of progress being made, things that are locking into places—the kind I haven’t seen in quite a long time.

It’s a good look on you.

R.

June 29, 20XX, 05:38 AM

from: river0919@mail.co

to me

Dear S.,

There are times when I think the world seems to freeze. The clock says it’s five in the morning, but the birds don’t sing. I should be asleep, but sleeping means losing time. I don’t hate it when the world doesn’t move. I’m lying very still. If I make too many noises, I feel like I would wake it up. There’s the familiar, comforting electrical hum of either the radiator or the fridge, I don’t know. The daylight will give me headaches later in the morning, but for now, the night cradles me in her palm.

I’m sorry, I couldn’t tell you many things. I’m sorry I left the flowers you bought for my dad undelivered, wilting in our living room. In retrospect, I should have asked Viola to do it in my place instead of staying the night at the theatre, making excuses, telling nothing. It’s her who has started to talk to him again. She told me he’d been doing better, and had been going back to classes, even. I don’t work three jobs anymore, but I still get nervous at the thought of meeting him. I hope you understand, Sonya.

The other day, I walked down to the bakery I used to work at. They recently closed down, and the glass windows are covered in cardboard. The record store, the Italian restaurant, the bookshop, all of them either closed down or changed into other things now. Seeing them felt like a dream in broad daylight. The milkshake bar is the only one that’s still here, so I bought a cup and later gave it to Inez because, you know, I don’t drink milk. 

It was silly, I know, but then I don’t know why I do many things. Maybe I’m just trying to piece together a clue for a threshold I’m missing.

R.

July 30, 20XX, 5:38 PM

from: river0919@mail.co

to me

My dearest Sonya,

It’s been a while since my last email. Here’s a summary of what had happened over my absence from this abandoned letterbox: Mika and Jonah got married—he probably had told you already, but whatever. The venue was lovely, a park on the East side of the city with leaves that glinted like coins in a fountain. I thought it must be what Woolf meant when she wrote about coins hanging from trees—in that one story about a heron that you liked. The breeze wasn’t humid and overbearing, almost as if it was still spring. It was a nice day. I found your dress shirt in my closet and wore it to the wedding. We’re even now, aren’t we? Inez said I finally looked normal for once. Still, we all know the truth, your wardrobe is just boring, save for some disappointingly purposeful exciting pieces—your metallic neon passport holder, for instance. And yes, it counts as a fashion piece.

Another news: I have been casted in a production of To The Stars. My agent wanted me to lose a bit more weight for the role of Lena, so lately, I’ve been running at night. It’s nice. The exercise exhausts me, and I found that I don’t need sleeping pills anymore. This is something that I wish to keep.

I’ve been sending you these for about three months now, but if you happen to stumble here and ask why, I don’t think I could give you a good answer. Yes, I told you things I couldn’t tell you, but I also told you things I could, hypothetically. I couldn’t, though, in reality, right? It’s funny. I’ve been thinking about it in my runs, but they all just sounded like pathetic excuses. 

R.

7 new emails

river0919@mail.co

March 6, 20XY, 8:43 PM

from: river0919@mail.co

to me

My dearest S.,

To The Stars was a success. I’m really happy about it. It was one of, if not the most ambitious project I’ve ever been on, and we did a good job pulling it off. We rented a house two streets from the theatre and used half of all the rooms to perform. That way, the audience could move from one room to another, choosing which family members to view at a time, everything unfolding in real-time, everyone constantly in character.

I was Lena, moving through all the rooms, carrying meals, cleaning, finding mementos in the nooks and crannies of the house. A few people always followed me around the entire time. I had always thought To The Stars were centered around Sarah and her mother, but the production put Lena at the heart of the story, in all her stern, relentless service to the family. I vaguely remember you hating To The Stars in college because of how they handled her. I think you would like this production, though. I wish you could see it.

Yesterday my dad called. It was fine. I don’t know if I will be able to meet him anytime soon, though. I had lunches with Viola and dinners with Inez or Jonah. After To The Stars ended, I relapsed and started needing sleeping pills again, but otherwise, I think I’m keeping myself afloat well.

I still run some nights. I still visit the grocery store, and they never seem to ever restock your yogurt. The fridge isn’t a hollow beast anymore now but filling it was another yogurt brand. It’s on again, preserving microbial lives in tiny bottles. I thought of the Permafrost where mammoth remains resurface as time goes on, preserving them in death, the cold merciless and uncontainable. The glass doors of the fridges kept the outside world from the cold, but the tundra wasn’t made with us in consideration.

I hope you’re taking care of yourself well out there.

R.

March 30, 20XY, 7:14 AM

from: river0919@mail.co

to me

Dear Sonya,

A few emails back, I told you that the reasons of me sending you these sounded only like pathetic excuses. Maybe that’s what they are, and that’s how it is. A lot of times, my nothings are all just directed to you.

R.

March 31, 20XY, 02:38 AM

from: river0919@mail.co

to me

Dear S.,

When are you coming home?

R.

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