Dear Friend of a Friend of a Friend,

You say you have a novel in you.

But since it took you nine meandering paragraphs to inform me of this, I’m not sure you even have an email in you.

So please don’t ask to pick my brain.  First, you need to pick up quite a few other things. Including a dictionary.

Very sincerely,

The Novelist


Dear Receptionist at The Surgeon’s Office,

Thank you for listening to my half-questions, my stumbled-over sentences.

Thank you for understanding that asking ‘where should I park?’ is the only way I can control what is happening.

Thank you for laughing with me when I tripped over the word ‘cancer’, as if it was a five-syllable foreign word I had never said before.

Thank you for knowing it was a word I’d never said before.

Thank you for hearing the tears in my voice. Thank you for not putting me on hold, for not rolling your eyes, for not thinking about all the food you had to cook when your entire family came over on Sunday.

Thank you for being so generous and kind.

And I hope that by the end of this month, I never, ever have to talk to you again.

Very sincerely,

The Patient’s Mother

Dear Owner of The Rental House,

Your dead wife’s things are all around me.  Her photos, her paintings, her perfumes.  I understand this. I understand grief.

Part of me even understands the altar you created in the living room, set with her memorial service program, her incense, notes in her handwriting.  Yes, this is an unusual backdrop for watching old Hugh Grant movies on your big screen TV.

You rent this house by the week, inviting us in, asking everyone who shares it to think of her, to wonder about her, to help you keep her alive.

I am doing my part, the part you seek, by writing about you both.  About a marriage and a bond so strong, that a woman’s half-finished oil paintings still hang in your garage studio, as if you are waiting for her brush to hover over the stretched canvas once again.  Hoping the picture will complete itself, to see what was in the painter’s heart all along.

And yet, I think you already know.

Very sincerely,

Your Tenant