It just appears one day in my notebook. It says—
How are you? This is Charles Dickens.
His handwriting is nice. I’m not jealous (just a little). I admire it. I want to replicate it but I don’t want Charles Dickens to think I’m copying.
I read it. It says some things. I wish I remember but I’m so awed by the handwriting and by the fact he even wrote me that I’m not really paying much attention. Something about a gondola. And his son. His son also writes in notebooks. And he also has messy handwriting. This I remember—my son had handwriting like a vise. I don’t know what this means except it’s bad and now that I’m thinking of it I never even knew he had a son. This is proof I didn’t make it up. The whole letter thing. If I did he probably would have been childless, or with a daughter. I always give men daughters. I imagine them pale and weird like me, and the fathers help them.
All day I think about his letter. I’m supposed to be getting married. I’m supposed to be marrying this man and not thinking about this letter. This man says, come on, we’re getting married. I know, I say, I’m sorry. What are you sorry for—you should be happy. This is your wedding day!
I try. I try being happy. But I just want to be writing to Charles Dickens. I think about it so much it feels like I’m doing it but I’m not, I’m thinking. I’m also thinking about this man. I don’t want to marry him. I don’t want anything to do with him but here we are. I don’t know what to do. I want to ask Charles about it but that might be weird. It would be one thing if we were pen pals. If we were established correspondents and this wasn’t my first letter.
It’s his fault, I think. His fault for not writing sooner. Then he could have saved me.
Leonora Desar’s writing has appeared in places such as River Styx, Passages North, The Cincinnati Review, Black Warrior Review, and Columbia Journal, where she was chosen as a finalist by Ottessa Moshfegh. Her work has been selected for The Best Small Fictions 2019, the Wigleaf Top 50 (2019 and 2020), and Best Microfiction 2019 and 2020. She writes a column for New Flash Fiction Review—DEAR LEO.