Further “Tails”

Written on lined paper, carefully and without additional edits, complete with title:

“Unsent Letter to the Recipient”

Mein Andere,

It should all have been so simple, and we should be here together. Those are the simplest truths I know. One day this letter will either find its way into your hands, and you will see that night through my eyes, or else someone else will find it. Maybe it will become evidence against me in my own trial. It already feels like that now.

We never should have trusted Smart, he was useful but he didn’t want the same things we did. Or at least not the same things I did. He wanted to destroy the state, but he did not mind if he destroyed people along the way. His own people. You never thought he would harm us, but I am certain he would if he thought we were in his way. So when he lost his mind, it was not a ploy, he genuinely lost it. Cynical was more surprising. I always thought of her as a mercenary who would abandon us after we got close enough to the border. We can blame her for the accident all we want, but I do believe it was an accident and that in the end she would rather no one have been harmed.

It was you who was impatient, all along, and you were of course right. It was a bad place and a bad situation, and there was a point when we could not make it any better. That is a frightening point to reach, isn’t it? We knew that there was absolutely nothing left to do but flee, and even then we could hardly guess what was waiting. I know now that you made it out, I suppose that is all that matters. But as I write this, there is much you could not know. I never wanted to split up. I thought we could both make it to the woods, and even if we did not, at least we would be together. That might have been wrong also, but we will never really know. I got lucky, you were the intelligent one. If they find me, they’ll send me back. I had to take my old name, and I found some punks who are much more intelligent than they should be. If they find me here, they will send me back immediately, that has always been the way. Then I would be writing you from a different kind of cell, or probably not at all.

We took a long drive today and it reminded me of a drive you and I once took. We were right along the border, those few kilometers where you can see the other side and the soldiers are fewer. It is the kind of place where you can choose how you would be most likely to die, and even convince yourself you might survive. That bridge seems to go on forever, and the water is deeper than it looks with all those dead trees growing out of it. The sky goes that certain shade of pink and blue in the winter when the sun is setting, which takes an eternity. I remember the clouds, they looked like a gigantic whale spread out before us, diving into the sun. The water gets that perfect reflection, like a mirror with thin ripples making stripes where the supports for the bridge meet the water. You look out to either side and it goes on forever. But the strangest part of the beauty are the trees, they look like they are painted with black ink, just like that French artist you love so well. People used to try to swim under the bridges before they fenced it underwater, and a lot of people drowned even then. You can still see some ropes hanging from the sides of them too. Remember when we watched that first evacuation? People climbing on top of each other to get out. Those who make the stone wall probably got away that way. The rest are living inside of those trees, reaching up for the sunset whale.

Freedom is for both of us, and that means both of us together. When you held me that last time we could already hear the shouting soldiers, and you pushed me because you knew I would not run otherwise. I cannot imagine we will ever see one another again, but I think we will, we must. But I still cannot imagine it. Everything we have done leads up to it. I am in trouble here, and you cannot possibly come. Climb to the top of something tall and shout my name. I will be listening.

C

Written on a bar napkin, unfolded once, in black pen:

So Billy One-Shoe is dead. I will miss him and his funny walk. Now we have William Sandleman, and I can only imagine what kind of character he will be. He looks like he will enjoy boats and parties by the beach.

Written on the same bar napkins, also unfolded once, apparently same pen:

Caprese surprises me at every turn. Maybe she should not, she has been at this long enough to know about which tactics make the most sense. She complained that the other countries do a better job at unrest, when they take to the streets, they really mean it. She asked me a little about what it was like back home, and I told her those demonstrations could get scary, but we always have them outnumbered. She liked that, always having the numbers. She said a few things about solidarity in her usual, pleasant way. She is an absolute killer, just devastating at what she does, but it is nearly always with a smile. Then she asked if we could just set a fucking car on fire, and I threw back my head and laughed like I have not laughed in years. Those are the very best laughs. She kissed my forehead like a little boy and I thought about my molotov cocktail recipe.