“Letter to a Certain Dr. Bill”

Dear Dr. Bill,

I received your message. I’ve been meaning to call you back yesterday, but I did not want to talk to you over the phone. I’ll see you on Monday. I promise to show up at eight.

I still think about what you told me during one of our non-billable sessions when you allowed me to rant. I never told you that I already bought a wife, one of the first-rate Loyals. Two months ago, she was home-delivered to me by an illegal dealer in Cambodia. Oh, Doc, you should have seen the dude—a dreadlocked guy who sells all types of black-market merchandise, from Tang dynasty porcelain jars to aboriginal skeletons. As for my wife, she costs $600 dollars per month. That does not include the solar cell upkeep and the synthetic collagen. It’s impractical, I know, but this is Outerbridge, the only place in America where crops are still grown in soil.

A long time ago, I went out with this girl. I never forgot what she told me before she asked to be listed as a no-resuscitate. She said: “Sadness is something that you just bottle up, Jack, because it doesn’t really last. It’s a crippling thing to have, but its hold on you eventually wears off. How long it takes for the sadness to wane varies from one person to another. Some get over it in a day. Some take a lifetime or two to recover. But the most important thing is that sadness doesn’t last. Loneliness, well, that’s a different ballgame altogether. You only get lonely by choice.” Wise girl. Too bad she wanted no part of eternal life and opted to sign up for the no-resuscitate program.

–MESSAGE UNREADABLE AND TRUNCATED–
MACHINE-STAMPED AND AUTHENTICATED TO THIS POINT

I still clean mirrors around the house, Dr. Bill. Every single one of them has been weakened by constant polishing.

–MESSAGE UNREADABLE AND TRUNCATED–
MACHINE-STAMPED AND AUTHENTICATED TO THIS POINT

What I have may just be a matter of longing. This policy of eternal life has screwed up everything. You know about longing, don’t you? Its name is Susan. This Susan waits for the roaches that she alone can see. Susan appears invisible to the roaches. Its name can also be Stephen; Stephen is now serving time in the Florida County Jail. He once dismantled his wife, saw nothing inside her but dried leaves. He was still raking the leaves when the police got to him.

–MESSAGE UNREADABLE AND TRUNCATED–
MACHINE-STAMPED AND AUTHENTICATED TO THIS POINT

The house would not eat even if I force-fed Lincoln into its basement-mouth. It pretended to be full by belching hair and an occasional fingernail out of the kitchen drain.

Nothing works, Dr, Bill. The drugs you gave me—they only make me groggy. I mistook my wife for an ironing board and accidentally burned her to death.

I found rats under the floorboards. Yes, rats in the twenty-third century. Imagine that. They shrieked when cornered, just like real rats.

–MESSAGE UNREADABLE AND TRUNCATED–
MACHINE-STAMPED AND AUTHENTICATED TO THIS POINT

I only wished that you had given me something stronger so I could sleep well.

This cold ends in the body least touched.

Thank you for trying. I’ll see you on Monday.

All my best,
Jack

–END OF MESSAGE–
DO NOT BEND
PROPERTY OF THE OUTERBRIDGE HISTORICAL RESTORATION TEAM

About Kristine Ong Muslim

Kristine Ong Muslim is the author of three books, most recently We Bury the Landscape (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2012) and Grim Series (Popcorn Press, 2012). Her short stories and poems have been published in the likes of Boston Review, Contrary Magazine, Existere, Hobart, Sou’wester, and The State. She lives in a small farming town in southern Philippines and serves as poetry editor for LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction. Website: http://kristinemuslim.weebly.com/