Dear Anonymous

Harshita Das

4th post. 4th short fiction.

Quarter to midnight, the city fell asleep despite the endless rain. But in one of the houses, a room still remained lit and the windows were almost rattling with the sound of rock music hitting against them. “BOOM BOOM BOOM! Don’t wanna grow up, I wanna get out, hey! Take me away, I wanna shout out, take me away, away, away!” Banging her head to every beat, Zoe was lost in the deafening volume of the boombox.

The city was struck by a flash of thunderstorm, that seemed to start out of nowhere in the middle of autumn. So she was stuck in her room, grooving to Christina Vidal’s song. (Being a teenager can be tough if you’re stuck at home with no Wi-Fi and bad weather, afterall.) She was so busy throwing wild headbangs that she didn’t even notice Leo banging the door open and storming into her room. “Are you trying to kill us with that volume?! Turn the racket down! I don’t wanna die before I make out with Lara,” yelled Leo, Zoe’s younger brother, jerking the plug out of the stereo. Zoe pushed him away in disgust, “As if I care! Get out of here! Now!” 

That’s when Leo tossed a parcel for Zoe to catch, that was wrapped in white. “Your trash just arrived. I thought they had a decent time for home-delivery service but what’s this – in the middle of the night, that too in this brutal storm? Anyways, I brought it to you all the way upstairs for free. You’re welcome, evil sister,” said Leo with a smirk. She recalled the pair of headphones she had ordered a few days ago, but she definitely didn’t expect this kind of delivery. Nonetheless, she sat on her bed and began unravelling the white tape all across the package. “Who paid for this?” she asked in a sudden calm voice. “There was no one at the door when I answered the doorbell. I found this lying on the floor outside,” Leo replied as Zoe was ripping the cover off to reach for the headphones inside. “Besides, you really need those. It would give my ears and your stereo a little peace,” he added. Ignoring his comment, Zoe grabbed the cover and pulled out the box of headphones.

Atleast that’s what she thought it was. Instead, a fat book popped out. Confused and annoyed, she threw the book at her pillow and shook the open end of the parcel violently, turning it upside-down with a hope for a pair of headphones to drop out. But there’s was nothing else in it. “Is this a joke?” she asked, turning to Leo with a glare. “Oh Zoe, please. I have better things to do in my life and I have nothing to do with this. It’s probably why the delivery guy didn’t wait for the money,” Leo replied with a bored expression. “Fine, then go to your room,” said Zoe, as he was yawning his eyes out.

She turned to her pillow and reached for the book. The pages were poorly bound and the spine of the book was out of alignment. Perhaps, the parcel was misrouted, she thought. But surprisingly, the address on the parcel’s cover belonged to her. The cover of the book was a deep shade of green. The pages smelled like fresh new ones but looked old because of their coffee-stained colour. Also, all the pages were empty. Just then, a folded page dropped out from inside the book. On turning it open, she found some meaningless lines written all across the page. As she went through the words, Zoe concluded that it had to be an experimental record of a Greek scientist or it had to be a letter from someone suffering from Dyslexia. Since the idea of a Greek scientist seemed quite over the top, Zoe chose to believe the dyslexic theory.

She didn’t sleep the whole night and nor did the rain stop for once. Something about this mysterious letter tempted her to try and decode the secrets it held. So she stayed up till late, glued to the letter and her mind engrossed in trying to study it. At first, she couldn’t make heads or tails out of anything but eventually she understood that everything was written in its inverse symmetrical form. This sparked another idea in Zoe’s head. She held out a mirror in front of the page and patiently read everything that was written on it. Finally, she managed to finish reading the letter. She still sat there, breathing as though she had raced a hundred miles, unable to understand what was happening. What she had come to realize was beyond her dreams. The letter read:

Dear anonymous,

I have seen you my whole life on walls, window screens, on the floor when it’s wasted by the rain and in the lake across my house. Yet I have never known you. Over all the years of my life, I watched you grow into who you are today. You were so little when I saw you for the first time. I know you saw me too. But the first time that you saw me, you looked at me in wonder. As you grew older, you changed. The way you looked at me, changed too. You looked at me in disappointment. For some reason, you would stretch your face or arms or body and then frown at me. For some reason, you would show me how you paint yourself in artistic shades and then smile at me after you were done, as if you wanted me to believe in the mask you were wearing.

I will tell you what I see. I am not familiar with exaggeration or judgement based on appearance.

The only purpose of writing this letter to you is to hopefully make you understand the reality and accept it the way it is; so that I no longer disappoint you as often I do.

Faithfully,

X

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