from: Babe <email@example.com>
to: Gordon Flanders <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 1:45 PM
subject: nail polish
My toenails are chipped. They used to be black but it’s been a month since I stepped outside. I turned 43 today and you can’t turn 43 with chipped nails so I went out in the 37 degree C heat. I used The Old Man and The Sea to shield me from the sun, but being a novella, it wasn’t nearly adequate enough. Do you remember the first few lines?
He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky…
Hemingway is a constant companion because I want to write like the barmy old codger. I have a story gestating in my liver; it feels like a novella that spans a single event. It would be salao to say more.
43 is not so different from 40 but it is a lifetime’s orbit from 33. I wonder if 53 will be interstellar space. You can look forward to 40. Don’t believe the press. It’s not old. I’m on the cusp of Mars.
How are your demons? What tea do they drink in the deep of night? I am drinking a forest of camomile, which used to make my head hurt but now brings relief. My migraines are down 80 percent. Ssssh. Things do change. Nothing is permanent. This uncertainty is the salvation the Catholic Church promised but never delivered.
I am 43 and my toes are purple.
from: Gordon Flanders
date: Friday, April 22, 2016 at 1:04 PM
subject: rot and recreation
My sister-in-law may be behind me as I type, is behind me, but may get closer and close enough to read what I am writing because one of the cat’s opened the door and I am wearing headphones. I am listless. I know no bounds except the ones I deduce based on learned constraints. Behind. Front. Inside.
The passages you sent to me last week are magnificent. I like the way the Hemingway one speaks and I like what the Ferrante one says. Especially the part with the emotional implosion. I am trying to be at peace with making a spectacle of myself. Why not? Let the happy be calm. I won’t try to emulate them for now. One day I will regain a state of yin, to borrow a word that I don’t understand.
I am reading a few books as well, though finishing seems like a remote prospect. But that’s the nature of time, isn’t it, and the nature of me, not to see the pattern. I am reading a book called Blessed about the history of the prosperity movement in American Christianity. It’s helpful in understanding many of the cultural forces that shaped my childhood, among other things. I am reading a book about information warfare called Dark Territory: The Secret History of the Cyber War. It’s by Fred Kaplan. It’s a lot of facts and such like that. I am still reading Imajica by Clive Barker which is a fantastic story recommended to me by the artist at Accidental Tentacles.
I loved reading your short story, slumming. I love gesturing to the loo and then making a snappy exit, especially when there are catered drinks.
I am pleased with the writing I’ve done since I wrote you last. I have some gray hair and I can feel the demons meeting for a quiet tea after a long night. We’ve followed your example and closed the curtains; we’ve shut out the diseased spring. And yet, of course, the spring and I have an animated past which we neither of us can manage to forget.
Be good, but don’t tell anyone you’re doing it. You won’t. But anyway.