[A letter FROM Opal finally! I like her better than “Oliver”, a name created by a special Sabina Latifovic for this anonymous sender of letters. I still don’t know if this is the voice I really want for her, but it works. A few notes: Opal wrote this when she was like 16, 17. She’s never gotten any of Oliver’s letters, so she doesn’t know what he thinks of her. She’s a strong-minded, adventurous, and independent girl. She’s almost a little bit like Scout, from To Kill A Mockingbird]
When I was young, I used to think about what aging would feel like. Aging, in those days, meant teen years, ideally. I never thought it would physically hurt. In fact, there was this idealism in the future. In my dreams, I would dangle my legs off of the bed of my truck, sitting on the top of the world, in its literal sense. I used to dream of the life that I lived vicariously through my books in those days. I wandered the world with a sense of adventure in my dreams, nothing too different from what my childhood was like. And yet, in every one of these dreams of becoming older, you were somehow there. You were there as in your presence, lingering upon the air. Sometimes I just saw you. Other times, it was your voice I heard. Most times, it was you and me against the world, like our days in the neighborhood.
Here I am, Oliver, in those teenage days, those dream days, and there’s a void in them. You are the void. I have swung over truck-beds and danced on top of the world, but inside I’ve left behind the piece of childhood I deserve—that I need. Childhood should never die, regardless of age. Yet, for me, it has. I’ve lost all touch with my roots. I’ve lost all touch with you.
When I was young, happiness was autumn colors across the mountains. Happiness was a good scoop of ice cream from the truck and ice-cold lemonade for 25 cents. Happiness was wearing my favorite baseball cap instead of frilly dresses and making fake circuses. Happiness, most of all, was fake weddings when we would walk hand in hand into the sunset, across dirt roads, and honeymoon in the old oak in my yard. Happiness was you.
You were always about words and I was about the dancing and moving around. I made the games, you made the rules. I sang and you wrote. When we were ten, you had a journal. I never knew what you wrote in it. In fact, sometimes I still pass by your house and see you sitting on your porch furiously scribbling into the black book. Always a mystery, Oliver.
I’m not one for words. My eloquence comes in nowhere close to yours. You can make a flower turn into a story with your words. You could always do that, and even today, I admire that from afar.
In your own way, you were the boy of everyone’s dreams. Only, you hid in the shadows until nobody could see you anymore. But I have always seen you, for who you are, and I have loved you in these shadows you’ve hidden in. Always, Oliver.