August 25, 1971
August 26, 1971
August 27, 1971
My name is Olivia Hunt. I am your sister. You are inside mom. Jim is our brother. He's OK for a boy.
I had a dream about you. I was in the canoe. My hair was in a braid but it was a snake too. You came out of the lake. You crawled up my snake braid. You got in the canoe. You look like me. The canoe tipped over but we could talk under water.
Me and Jim are up here at Aunt Louise's. It's pretty nice. We go swimming. We pick blueberries. We play in the woods. I get to name you if you're a girl. Dad said Let's call her Martini. Mom said That's terrible. I don't like that name. I like the name Madeline. It's my favorite book. I'll read it to you sometime.
Other fun stuff we can do:
1. Play in the treefort.
2. Play dress up in the attic.
3. Pretend we are princesses. I have a crown. Dad will buy you one. You can't touch mine. Dad buys you whatever you want.
4. Pretend we are brides.
5. Lots of other fun stuff.
I like writing this letter. It's like you're here. Only you're invisible.
I love you already, Olivia
August 28, 1998
35,000 feet over Nevada
188 Westborne Park Road
Portland, Oregon 97211
I was sitting at home yesterday (where else?) working on the fourth draft of my suicide note when I got the call. I resented the interruption and nearly didn't answer the phone. I was having a hard time getting the tone right and, as we've discussed, tone is everything in correspondence. This seems especially true when it comes to your very, very, very last words. (But I now wonder: is a suicide note correspondence?) The first draft was too angry, especially toward Michael, whom in fact I do not resent for dumping me. Why would I? He was doing me a favor, putting me out of my misery, which is what living with him was like. No, the raging anger and hate hate hate were misdirected in this draft; they were really meant for my former boss, the president of Universal Pictures, Mr. Josh Miller.
As you may recall from our previous discussions, this guy is a real asshole. You remember - the one whose lip curls up to the right when he speaks in his irregular British accent, which he can't seem to shake since his junior year abroad twenty years ago. Whose pride and joy is not his five-year-old son but his custom-made butter yellow Rolls-Royce. Josh, whose fleshy face resembles a rhino's - beady wide-set eyes blinking between a mother of a snout, or maybe it's the personality that makes one think of a dangerous, stupid beast - and whose tongue I found down my throat at the company Christmas party? (I know, I should have sued him as you advised, but I was afraid of being blacklisted.) It was Josh Miller - of the Hollywood Miller dynasty - who after three years as my boss still looked at me with a face that said: Who let her in? Who stuck me on that Babe rip-off Lloyd the Hamster and then fired me the day it tanked, as I repeatedly warned him it would. Clearly, Josh was the true villain in my life story and deserved all the hate in my soon-to-expire heart, not dear Michael. But I couldn't give that windbag the satisfaction of knowing he drove me to suicide, could I? After further analysis, I realized that of course there were other people I deeply deeply hated too. So, yesterday afternoon, as the super pounded the eviction notice into my hollow apartment door, I committed to another draft.
Now, I love my mother. We all love our mothers, don't we? Dad, too, okay; somehow. But let's be honest here. You and I both know they destroyed any chances I had in this world. Don't say "therapy" to me, Tina; you know Dr. Schteinlegger did his very best for two years before throwing up his professional hands. I know these dear people from whose clueless loins I sprang have everything to do with why I'm a complete failure, but that sounded so common. Who doesn't blame their parents? That draft was full of clichés and self-pity, and if it's one thing I'm not, it's self-pitying.
Copyright © 2004 by Elisabeth Robinson
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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