Cosmic: Tad to Gee-Jay 2

Response to Gee-Jay’s 2nd letter.

Hello, Ms./Mr. Gee-Jay. Or Mr. McCumber and Ms. Giuliana or Ms. Tazer. Or Mr. %(*)% and Ms. dsajkpwaorijwapeindklcxpidrheiawmvdmfg @@ aseprieam ## amkdfpaewi 56g967.

I am terribly sorry. I did not mean to cause such concern and possibly harmful amounts of laughter. I honestly do not know how I even did that. Well, I suppose your thorough analysis of my writing shed some light on the matter, but I am still quite puzzled. I am sorry. I have been trying to sound less formal, but it is very difficult for me. Informal aspects of language have always eluded me.

Anyway, it is good that you took precautions to avoid hysteria. Death by laughter is not very common, but it is not unheard of either. I am very glad that I did not cause you to die. Even accidentally. That would have been terribly inconsiderate of me. Not to mention against many laws and rules. I will try to be more careful.

And yet, I am glad I made you more cheerful and delighted. It is good to know I can cause some happiness from time to time. And I am glad you still wish to write me. Your words are beautiful, and it is a delight to read them.

“Time for thinking” sounds like a lovely name for a club. Though I also like Gee’s club-name. “Now!” is a very short and clear, yet meaningful word. Now is something very few can escape, after all. But I suppose “Time for thinking” is more specific and tells a lot about the function of the club. I would love to join your “Time for Thinking” -club. Though I am not sure what I would need to do. I have never been a part of a club or an association that has nothing to do with work. I suppose clubs are for making people feel more connected and have a sense of belonging to a group and doing things together. Sometimes even when they are not physically in the same area or even country. Or planet. Or perhaps even universe. It feels that this Project has joined many people in a club of sorts.

Oh, I am straying from the point again, aren’t I? Yes, I would like to be a part of your club and try to figure out the mysteries of this world with you. And yes, I do spend a lot of time deep in thought. Sometimes I have nothing else to do. Or more accurately, sometimes a part of my mind has nothing else to do. And the world has so many things that warrant deep thinking, does it not? From the space-time continuum to the way bones and muscles are connected. And the way numbers become pictures and signals in a nervous system become intricate thought patterns that can create and destroy. And cupcakes. There are so many different types of them, and they are made to look pretty even though they will soon be eaten, and despite being food their main function to many seems to be happiness instead of a source of energy.

I am glad you were touched by my words, Gee. You are of course welcome to tell Mr. Mann about me when you write him. And Jasper, I do not think the words to the deceased need to be put on paper, should one not wish so. Writing or talking or thinking, the medium does not matter. If the message is to go through, I am sure it will. You said you believe there is more to a person than just the body. I like to think so too, even if saying that may sound unprofessional to someone who is bound to accept and respect all kinds of worldviews because of their job.

That – perhaps not so directly – brings us to what you said about consciousness and time and space. I do not think consciousness is something that can simply pop into existence. At least not usually. Usually it needs to grow and develop. The more simple lifeforms evolve into ones with more capacity for thought and a more defined consciousness. The malleable souls of small children gather information and influence and become more tangible, more complex. So I think a consciousness that has no time would not become quite as layered and deep as one with time can. It would be no less precious, as all consciousness has infinite value to me, but perhaps less likely to think about questions such as what you are thinking now. As for space… I suppose a consciousness could be completely intangible and require no space. But it would still need some kind of state of existence, at least.

This is just speculation, though. I could be wrong. Perhaps you will figure out the numbers you were talking about. The equations and theories. Sometimes numbers and equations and theories can explain something that is impossible to prove or even put into images. I wish you luck with that. Do let me know if you figure things out. I am not that good with numbers. In my work it is important not to start turning too many things into numbers, even though sometimes it might help. But for you, I am sure numbers can be helpful and not make things too impersonal.

Thank you so much for writing me. I appreciate your words and your desire to connect with me. There are not many who wish to do so. I would like to know more about your lives and your thoughts. They sound very interesting, and you seem like very lovely people. How have your lives been lately? What do you like to do in addition to thinking about things, telling jokes, and founding clubs about pirates?

I look forward to hearing from you again, and I wish you all the best.

Respectfully yours,
Tad

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Letters: Emily to Liam 5

Response to Liam’s 5th letter.

Dear Liam,

Thank you so much for your letter! Lenora is definitely right; you are a really smart, wise and nice grandpa! Well, you’re not exactly a grandpa to me, but something like that. Not that I know what it’s like to have one. I mean, I never knew any of my grandparents. My adoptive parents’ still living parents do visit sometimes, but they live in different towns so we don’t see them that often. My point is; you’re really awesome and I like you a lot. And I’m glad you’re always ready to talk to me about stuff. Even stuff that’s difficult.

It was cool to hear more about Mathilda too. I’ve heard that there’s plenty of gods and goddesses, but it’s still a very great honour to become one. I guess being a god or a goddess is important work at least if one has lots of power. How did Mathilda become a goddess? Does she have worshippers? She has to if she’s a goddess, right? And you know, being afraid to die isn’t anything to be ashamed of. It’s pretty normal, from what I’ve heard. Mathilda just had the power to stop herself from dying without causing much harm to others (I assume), and did so. Somehow. I’ve heard that lots of people try to stop themselves from dying, and many do it in ways that aren’t ethical at all. That’s really awful.

Anyway, thank Mathilda for the gift! I got the gem she sent me and I tried it. And it worked! At least kind of. I did as she told and haven’t used it all the time, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think it’s because some of my nightmares aren’t just normal nightmares. They’re caused by this thing that happened to me and… well, they’re old and powerful. But the normal nightmares have stayed away when I’ve used the gem, and I’ve been sleeping really well! So thank you! And Mathilda especially! It’s an honour to get such a gift! And to be liked by a goddess… I don’t think I have spunk, but I guess I can come across a little braver in writing or when you tell someone about me. But still… thank you. 🙂

Can you ask Mathilda if I can let someone else use the gem too? My brother has nightmares too. I can tell him it’s a mystical space rock and he’ll probably try it then even though he isn’t that aware of magic.

Oh, you have a great-great-granddaughter? And she’s in the Project too? I knew it! Your entire family will soon be in this :D! And a ghost is in the Project too? Then my uncle being in it might not be THAT weird. That’s right; I talked to him about it again, and he agreed to participate! He was all awkward about it and said that no one would want to write him, but now he already has more than one pen pal! When he talks about it he looks pretty happy, so I think nothing’s going wrong and that it’s all good. And reality hasn’t been broken!

Oh, I’m jumping all over the place again with my writing. But yeah, ghosts… I know a bit about them. Especially about the in-between place! You see, that’s my uncle’s domain. Realm. Home. He says that in his home there are lost souls who don’t know how to get to the proper whatever comes after death, and he gives them a place to stay until they do find the way. And there are also those who can go back to the living as ghosts but are stuck and can’t move on. Some of the ghosts can get so lost that they can’t even find their way back to Uncle Tad’s place, but some are sort of shuttling between the living world and my uncle’s home.

I don’t know if getting forward from there always has to do with being good or bad. My uncle says that there are so many possibilities for what happens after dying and so many reasons for people to go to different places (he himself is totally impartial as to who goes where. He’s just there to make sure they go somewhere). If there even really is a different place for different kinds of living things. I don’t know. Anyway, my uncle says that the only one who can usually really figure out how to get a ghost unstuck is the ghost him/herself. I hope your great-great-granddaughter’s new pen pal will eventually find her way.

I also know a ghost, but I don’t see him that often. He lives with a friend of mine, but he can only come to the world of the living at night. He seems nice, though. I wish he’ll eventually find his way too.

I’m glad your time as a dead person was good and worked out for you, and that you could visit the living. And I’m glad that you’re here now.

So here I go again with the morbid stuff. Okay, now happy things… happy things… well, I mean, you mentioned teleportation and a Stephen King -story. It sounds cool; I’ll see if the library has it. But teleportation… I’ve heard that people at least around here need a permission to do it. If they even can pull it off, that is. My brother once said that teleportation would be impossible, at least with science.

“I mean, it would mean the body has to be broken into atoms and then be reassembled,” he said, “I don’t think anyone can go through that without dying. Even if it did somewhat work, the person who got to the other end wouldn’t be the same. They could have the same memories and look the same, but they would still be a new person.”

It sounded really creepy. But I guess (and hope) it’s different with some really advanced magic.  I’m not surprised you guys can teleport without ill effects. My uncle can do it too, though he says that in his case it’s not teleporting but just that he can be in all the places at once because of what he is. And if he wants to move someone to a different place he’ll just convince reality that said person is in the other place. It’s weird and I don’t get it, but as long as it works…

But man, I bet it would be cool to travel by broomstick too! Though it sounds a bit uncomfortable. Do broomsticks have some kinds of seats nowadays? Like a bike saddle?

And yeah, the wedding! It went really well, and I’m still kind of hyped and scared about it. Like “did I really do that? Play in front of all those people?” But I did and it was pretty nice. The whole party was nice. Also I bet you can already guess who the one who gave me advice to combat stage fright was: it was Lenora. 🙂 She’s so cool!

Your Aurora is also a musician? And she’s destined for greatness? That sounds mysterious and fairytale-like. I’d love to hear more about it! She sounds really skilled and amazing. Maybe someday I’ll hear her sing. And yeah, I think Uncle Tad harmonised with himself, but if you’d ever call him talented to his face, he’d get all embarrassed and say that calling him talented would be an insult to those who have real vocal cords and who actually need to practise so they can do stuff like that. He says that his voice gets echo-y and many voices at once because that’s what people often assume Death sounds like.

I don’t care what he says, though. Hearing him sing is still great.

So yeah. Music sounds like a good way to end a letter. Music and food. Again. My sister is doing fine with her veganism and getting all the nutrients she needs.

She’s one of my idols. She’s been through a lot, but she’s really tough and isn’t afraid to try to change things. I mean, both of my sisters are doing a lot to help people, and so are my parents. But the sister I’m talking about does it with such attitude and openness and isn’t afraid to call other people out on being mean or destructive. I heard she just arranged a big protest at her university. It was against plans to put up a mostly unnecessary, polluting factory near our town. She’s really good at talking and can manage to be mostly friendly about her values even when she’s loud about them.

“You can be badass and stick to your values, but just don’t be an ass about it,” she often says, “Then people will just shoot the messenger and ignore the message.”

I’ve been thinking of maybe going at least vegetarian too because of her (and my uncle’s – he refuses to “eat corpses”, as he puts it) example. But I can also understand the charm of meat and potatoes especially if it’s a part of your culture. I like meat too, especially the organic kind mum always buys, but I also like my veggies. We’ll see what I’ll decide.

I don’t mind your long letters, Mr. Liam. It’s always great to hear from you.

Oh, and I started looking for magic and mysteries in my hometown! And pretty sights too. It’s a lot of fun. And your Lenora invited me to your upcoming super-royal-fairytale double wedding! I’m seriously thinking about coming, but I’m a bit scared to travel alone and I’m not sure if my family would be ready to let me meet my pen pals yet. But I’ll let you know when I know for sure. It would be awesome to meet you guys, so I’m really thinking about it.

Until then, I’ll be glad to hear more from you. I hope things keep going well for you.

Regards,
Emily


Author’s Note: Yep, for those who haven’t already noticed, Tad is also in the Pen Pal Project now. If you’re curious about his letters, you can see them and his profile here.

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Cosmic: Tad to Steve 1

Hello, Mr. Steve.

You can call me Thanatos Dustpine, or just Tad, if you wish to call me anything at all. I am a part of the Pen Pal Project, and I am writing to you because I would like to start a correspondence. I believe this is how it works. I write to you and you consider whether or not you want to write back.

I am delighted to make your acquaintance. If you want to, that is. Please do not feel obligated to write back to me if you do not wish to do so. I will understand.

However, since you joined this Project, you do want someone to write to. You said in your profile that you want friends. That is an admirable goal; something I too wish for myself – and for you too.

A friend of mine – a friend who got me into this project because she thought (correctly) that I need more meaningful connections in my existence – told me that waiting for people to write to me is all well and good, but that maybe I should get out of my comfort zone and take initiative in contacting people in this Project. So after some thinking I did let my friend help me find someone I might dare write to. And we found you.

I am sorry if I sound forward, but you are fascinating. Well, many things are; each individual has a story that I would love to hear should they wish to share it. However, it is not every day I meet someone who is both 90 years and one week old. And you said that you want someone who does not mind when you do not know things. I can safely say that I do not mind that. I do not know many things either, especially when it comes to living a life, so something about your application struck a chord, so to speak.

You also said that participating in this project may be good practice for your hands. I imagine it is. I got a notebook and I am writing each of these letters – and every letter in these letters – with a pen. The way my hand slides across real paper, and the tiny movements that draw symbols are something I too have experienced too little. Or perhaps you will want to write your letters on a computer or some other typing tool. I would assume that would help with your fine motor skills even more. With computers people often use many fingers – some two and some all ten and some something in between. I have not often touched a computer, since technology and I do not get along, but I have sometimes used an old typewriter. I like the click-click-click sound it makes and the feel of the buttons pressing down and the tiny recoil of the letter slamming into place. I suppose it is gentler with a computer, but I can assume it is good for your hands nonetheless. When done in moderation, of course.

You said that people fascinate you. People fascinate me too. I have met many people and many other living things in my work. So while I do not think that I myself am very interesting, I think I may be able to tell you about people. Nothing too personal, of course. And I would like to know more about you. About your life in the laboratory. About you in general. Have you ever planned to go outside of the laboratory? Or is it even possible for you? If you do not mind me asking, of course.

I was informed that I should also tell you something about myself. I suppose you can find my profile in the Pen Pal Project site if you wish to know even more. And you can write back to me if you are still curious after that. As I said, I am usually called Tad. I am a spiritual guide and a gardener, and I would like to talk to more people even outside my work. I like the world and the beings in it. I love plants and I love reading. I have a few very good friends and – as I said – I would love to have more.

If I sound like someone you would like to write back to, then I would be honoured. If not, then I simply wish you all the best.

Respectfully yours,
Tad

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Cosmic: Tad to Gee-Jay 1

Response to Gee-Jay’s 1st letter.

Hello, Ms. Giuliana and Mr. McCumber,

I am delighted to make your acquaintance.

I am quite surprised that someone wants to write to me – and especially surprised that I received two pen pals at once. I would be very glad to be a pen pal for both of you. For Gee-Jay. That has a nice ring to it, I have to say. It sounds spiky but not unfriendly. Names condensed into sounds that are like letters in your alphabet.

I do not know if that is a proper way to start a letter. I confess that I have written very few letters like this before. Usually I communicate differently. But I like this. Writing things down by hand is refreshing, a chance to pause and to really think about the words one wants to use. I even got a notebook for these letters. I am sitting in my garden, writing this now. I can hear the sea next to me, and it helps me think about the words you wrote to me.

So, first of all, I hope you are not too hopeful that I can answer all the questions you might have. I may have put “spiritual guide” as my profession, but I confess that I am not very good at dealing with a lot of things in life. My speciality lies in specific moments, often traumatic ones. But I will do my best. I do spend quite a lot of time for thinking, so perhaps I can sometimes think up something helpful. When I have time, that is. I am very busy, though I can always find a moment for myself when I really need it. Such as when I might want to write a letter. I do not know if I have wanted to do that very often before now. But I felt a burst of happiness, like a heart skipping a beat, when I received your letter. So I think I do want to write more letters from now on.

As much as it pains me to hear about your sadness, Gee, it is true that everyone is sad sometimes. Or at least most things. I am sad too quite a lot. In your case, it sounds like your sadness is born from happiness. Happiness from the time when you still had your now deceased pen pal. I know of Dusk Mann. I checked his profile, and I know a person who was in contact with him. He sounds like a very good young man who lived an eventful and full life. Still, I can understand your sadness. People cling to those they have formed attachments to, even after their passing. That to me often proves that the attachment was genuine. I am happy that you got such a good friend through this project. I imagine you have many good memories of him. And I hope we can possibly be friends – or at least friendly acquaintances – too.

It is not unheard of to write letters to dead people. It can help the ones who were left behind deal with the passing when done right. Sometimes it has been done because people have thought that the dead will really get the letters. And who am I to say they will not? The dead leave whispers and echoes behind when they leave, and sometimes the living can echo right back at them. I hope you can find happiness through still writing to Mr. Mann, even though he might not write back. It is a safe assumption that one needs time to write. Though sometimes I wonder whether – if contained properly – timelessness actually grants more time. Or at least takes away schedules. Then again, that might only work for beings who exist in a state that is not bound and guarded by time. Sometimes I try to find real timelessness. I search an old place and lie down there and try not to think too much. But I can still hear the clocks turning, or at least I think I do.

Time is indeed an interesting thing. Humankind still has not quite figured out what it is. Lines and spirals and blankets are just some of the theories I have heard about. What I can tell about time is that it is necessary and powerful. It is needed for a universe to function properly. Or at least most universes, I would guess. I think there are so many different universes that there might be some that could exist without time, and even without space. But such a universe would be very different, and it would need its own set of rules. Or perhaps such a universe would die before it is even properly established.

I am sorry, I think I am thinking about things that are too far away, even though I should be focusing on the nearer, smaller things.

I checked both of your profiles, Gee-Jay. It makes me happy to know that two very different people have become friends – friends who were ready to team up to write to me, no less. I would love to hear more about you. And perhaps I can tell you something about me as well.

That is how this goes, is it not? You are still young, Gee, but you have already seen quite a bit of life in your city. And Jay, you have had a life with many goodbyes. But goodbyes always mean there were hellos as well. And – I imagine – many fond memories in-between. For me, hellos and goodbyes are often the same thing, because I usually see my clients only once. It is wonderful to be able to share a life with people, even though the lives do not last for an equal amount of time. I hope I can help you “make peace with comings and goings”, as you put it. I do not know if I can, but I will try my best.

Also yes, I do know quite a bit about Buddhism. I am not a part of any religion or official philosophical group, but the people I guide are from all walks of life and from all sorts of backgrounds. So I have come across many, many different ways to look at life.

So, as I said, I do not know if I can give you what you seek, but I will try. And you are ready to give me something back. Thank you. You say you can give me fun and funniness, smartness and connection, mystery and curiosity. What lovely gifts! I am not funny, at least never on purpose. I just do not seem to have a knack for it. So I appreciate you giving me funniness, Gee. And I do not think that I am very smart either, so your gift is also very welcome, Jay.

It is nice to hear from people who like reading. I also love to read. I have a sizeable library, where I sometimes sit down to read. But I very rarely read to anyone, and it is even rarer that someone would read to me. So talking about reading and the things we read sounds lovely. Talking about things in general sounds good. I have a couple of friends, and I do talk to them, but more definitely would not hurt.

Curiosity is something we also share, I think. I love mysteries as well. Perhaps we can uncover some mysteries together, through words and connection.

I hope I will be hearing from you again, and I wish you all the best.

Respectfully yours,
Tad

P.S. I am glad that you like my name, Gee. It does flow quite nicely, which is why I am fond of it. And I suppose the meaning would come across as “cool”, as long as it is simply a word.

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Letters: Emily to Gentian 2

Response to Gentian’s 1st letter.

Dear Gentian,

Yay! I’m so happy that you want to write to me! Thank you so much for your letter!

You seem so nice. Reading your letter made me instantly feel at ease, like talking with a friend I’ve known for a while already. I already thanked Lenora for getting you into the project. She really is lovely.

Thank you for answering all my questions about Plant People! I’ve been really curious about them… I mean, you guys. It’s pretty neat that you don’t need food and just need water. You have a great excuse to dance in the rain, then! And you probably won’t get sick easily if you stay out in the rain for too long. Can you eat food, even if you don’t need it? Or do you just drink water and get nutrients from the ground and absorb sunlight? Do Plant People have their own cuisine? Would eating vegetables be cannibalism for you, or at least close to it? You said your blood is different; is it also a different colour than human blood? Also man, growing kids in a garden would be so cool! You helping other people have kids sounds like a really noble thing to do. I hope you’ll meet someone special you can start your own family with, since that’s what you want. If you do meet her and we’re still pen pals, feel free to tell me all about her. And about your future kids too!

The work you do sounds really interesting and valuable! I hope you make lots of helpful scientific discoveries that’ll make people’s lives better! Aging is fine, I think, but all those sicknesses and problems that come with age aren’t. So good luck and inspiration for your work! Also I’m really glad that you have immortal friends to keep you company. The thought of being immortal and alone is a really depressing one.

Oh, wow, your birth sounds like real fairytale! It’s so great that your mum got you. Thank you for your condolences. I’m sorry about the people you’ve lost too. Feel free to reminisce about the people who’re gone all you want with me. My mum used to sing too. She played the guitar for me whenever I was scared or had difficulties falling asleep. I guess that’s one big reason for why I like playing the guitar so much too. I’m glad you have recordings of your mum’s singing. It sounds like a lovely way to remember her.

Also your name does sound like a good name! My name sounds… well, I don’t know. Good, I guess. Emily. It’s pretty soft. Though I’ve read stories about a sea monster that lives near a town called Windenburg. Apparently the locals call her Emily too. I like that. It would be cool to be a badass sea monster. But sharing a name with one is enough for me.

The fairy your mother met sounded so nice. I wish my life’s fairytales were nice like that. So far I’ve had pretty bad experiences with some supernaturals. But that doesn’t mean I’m scared of magic. I mean, non-supernatural people can be bad too just as likely. Still, I think it’s really neat that this world has magic, and I’d love to meet some more cool supernaturals who aren’t mean. Writing to you and Lenora and her folks has helped with that a lot. I’m sure that someday I’ll have a magical adventure of my own, something nice for a change. That’s why I started keeping a journal.

You asked me what I’m going to do after the wedding. Well, the wedding’s actually over now (sorry for not writing sooner. It was a really busy time for me and my family), and it feels a bit weird to not be surrounded by all that busyness and people.

But at least it’s peaceful again, and now I have time to just be and relax – especially now that school is almost done too. It’s just a couple of weeks before the summer break! So yeah, I’ve been keeping a journal. A journal of adventures!

So far my adventures have just been bike trips around the town and a bit beyond that. I’ve documented all the fun magical and not-so-magical findings I’ve come across. Like a circle of stones at our town. Or strange noises at the cemetery. Or the feeling of being watched by something tiny – maybe some kind of fairies? – when I’m out and about. Or just regular, lovely things.

It’s been a lot of fun! It may not be all that exciting, but it’s actually nice because too much excitement can get scary. I’ve been asking my family if we could take a trip together somewhere outside the town during the summer. They said that we can! Now I’m just trying to narrow down all the places I want to visit!

But meanwhile it’s nice being just here. In my hometown. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the fields and the forests and the flowers here. Even when I don’t find adventures, I always find new, pretty places I haven’t paid attention to before, and I write and draw them into my journal. I’m not that great at writing or drawing, but I guess it doesn’t matter as long as it makes me happy.

I’ve also had time to read more again. I love dragon books too! I have read the Pern -series and I love it! And just the other day I finally managed to get one of Lenora’s books, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot! It’s so… magical. 🙂 Obviously. I’ve also been reading some of Sir Pratchett’s Discworld -books, and they’re probably my favourites right now! My favourite character is Death. My mum hadn’t heard of the caterer-detective stories you mentioned, but she got excited right away when I told her about them. She’s now reading them, all thanks to you.

So, that’s pretty much it. Busy but not too exciting. Life in a nutshell, I guess. Or well, I liked your way of seeing life as a balancing act more. A balance between happy and sad times, excitement and boredom. It’s not easy a lot of the time, but I hope we all manage it somehow.

What’s going on in your life right now? It sounds like you have things set up really nicely in your life. I hope you’re doing well.

All the best,
Emily


Author’s Note: While Emily has read the Pern -series, I haven’t. So I hope people don’t expect an in-depth conversation about it. 😀

Also I had to make Emily like Discworld because it just makes sense. Her uncle owes his existence largely to my fangirl-ism of Sir Pterry’s Death after all.

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Letters: Emily to Lenora 3

Response to Lenora’s third letter.

Dear Lenora,

I’m so sorry for not writing in a while. It’s been so busy here with my sister’s wedding preparations and my school and all. And I also had to use my writing time to get a letter to my other pen pal because we were talking about emotional stuff and I didn’t want them to think I was upset because of the things we talked. And yeah, you were right about me liking your Grandpa. He’s a great friend and a lovely person. Also thank you so much for telling Gentian to get into the Pen Pal Project! I wrote to him, and he’s a really cool guy.

But it’s really nice to write to you too! I was so glad to get your latest letter!

And thank you for being understanding about me not wanting to tell everything about my family right away. I promise that I’ll keep everything you say confidential too – like I have so far.

It was nice to find out even more about you and your family. Though I’m sad and angered that you guys had to go through all that with the kidnapping, revenge and faked death and all. I hate it when people pull innocent people into their own stupid schemes and issues. Sorry, I’m so close to ranting too much. I’ve had some bad experiences with evil schemes too… but let’s not think about that now. I’m just happy your family is okay.

I really hope the kids you adopted will adapt well too. It can be scary at first, being a kid in a new place, especially when everything one used to know is gone. Ripped away just like that. It took me years to come to terms with it. And even after all this time, the pain is still there. But it’s bearable, sometimes even almost not there at all because there are people around me who have helped me shape a new life. People I love and who love me back. So yeah, I can guess that the kids you adopted have a good chance to heal, considering what a wonderful family you seem to have.

It was reassuring to hear that even a professional like you can get nervous before performing. And thank you for telling me how you deal with that nervousness. I think that was partly why I actually said yes when my sister asked me to play the guitar at her wedding.

Speaking of which, the wedding’s over now. Done. And I’m glad about that. I mean, it was fun and beautiful and great, sure, but man, did it take a lot of time and effort! But my sister and her fiancée – well, wife now – looked so happy that I know it was all worth it.

There were fancy-looking guests and awesome food and cake and flowers and music… I got into the feel of it all too. I was even super excited to wear a cute dress, even though I’m usually a tomboy, at least according to my classmates. And yeah, I did play the guitar for quite a while there. It went really well. My other sister played the keyboard – she says she’s not very good, but it didn’t matter much, since her main thing was singing while playing. I took care of most of the music. I could never sing in front of a crowd, though. I mean, I know my voice isn’t that bad, but just speaking in front of lots of people is really scary. Playing the guitar was easier because I didn’t have to use my voice and I could just pretend people were listening to the guitar instead of me.

The people liked my playing too, and I was glad I could do something nice for my sister and her wife. And maybe it wasn’t too bad… maybe I could play a bit more in the public. At least around people I know. But not to too many people at once. At least not to levels of really being famous. I chuckled a bit at your anti-fan wards. They sound creative and effective.

Are your family’s fairytale weddings done already? Or are they still in the preparation stage? I’d love to hear about them!

And thank you for telling me about the time-travelling stones! I had read and heard that stone circles usually mark some kinds of magical places, but I didn’t know you could travel through time with them! Wow! I actually found another set of stones in my town. It was far less dramatic and awesome; it was partly broken. Some of the stones had probably been moved away, so there was no feeling of magic or the past there. Or maybe there was, but it was too faint to feel because the stones were all scattered. They mostly just looked forgotten.

Still, I started thinking that maybe this small countryside town I live in has more secrets and more magic in it than I’d thought. It’s no Moonlight Falls – and I really want to visit that place now! – but it does have little sparks of magic and mystery here and there.

I was thinking that maybe I should start keeping a journal on my walks, kind of like you keep a journal about your life and to sort out your thoughts. It could be a Journal of Finding Magic from Unexpected Places.

…I still need to work on the name.

It sounds like your life is pretty well set up, with people who’ll always be around for you, and with lots of rewarding activities and experiences to keep life meaningful. That’s good. My dad says that life is all about making meaning, and I think it’s even more important if one is immortal. Or then it’s just different. Then it’s less like making a brief life mean something and more like giving meaning for yourself so that you don’t get bored, I guess.

I’d love to hear even more about your life and travels and your family. It sounds like there’s so much more to tell! I mean, if you want to share more, of course. I don’t want to get too nosy.

Wishing you happiness and good times,
Emily

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The Pen Pal Project: Tad’s Profile

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Name: Thanatos Dustpine, though you may also call me Tad.

Select your age bracket: Old Enough

Profession: I help beings transition to a new phase in existence and try to support them through rather traumatic and stressful circumstances. So you could call me a spiritual guide, I suppose. I am also a gardener.

How many pen pals are you interested in acquiring? Two or three would suffice.

What qualities do you seek in a pen pal? I consider myself very open-minded, and I would like for my pen pals to have a similar open-mindedness, or at least the ability to not be too intimidated by the new or the unknown. I am not the most socially adept of persons, so I would also ask for some patience. I am looking for someone who would like to share something about their views and experiences on life and the world and… anything, really. We do not need to become close friends, if that sounds too intimidating. I do not know if getting to know someone through words on paper or on a screen makes it easier or more difficult than meeting face-to-face. In any case, all I am asking for is connection. That is what this all is about, right?

Also I suppose I need someone who does not mind getting hand-written letters. Technology and I simply do not get along. Just making this profile took a great deal of concentration and help from a friend of mine. Thankfully nothing blew up.

Do you have a desire to meet your pen pal face-to-face? Eventually.

Please describe, in as much detail as possible, your reason for wanting to join the pen pal project: The friend who helped me set this profile up also got me into this, so I have her to thank for joining. But I should not put the blame – or praise – solely on her, even though she does deserve all the praise I could give her, for she is a lovely person and a great friend. But some of the blame is on myself too, for I got curious. I had heard about this project through quite a few channels. It has spread to all corners of the Earth, it seems, and even beyond that. It has been connecting individuals who would not otherwise even know about the possibility of each others’ existences. And they seem to get along very well.

Is this simply the power of a trend mixed with technology? The allure of communicating with strangers in order to make them less strange? Perhaps. I have seen the combinations of these things seep through the layers of complicated societies before. Or is this something more? A tangible force created through the desire to communicate? A powerful being able to transcend  the limitations of space, time, and universes? Whatever it is, it seems to be a benevolent force, or at least strive towards that. Its Purpose seems to be connection. Friendly connection. I like that.

I have some friends, but I have been told that I should expand my social circle. And while I prefer a few close friends to an army of impersonal acquaintances pretending to be friends, I agree that a few more friends definitely would not hurt. So to put it simply: I am quite lonely, and having a new being to talk to would be nice.

Anything else? There is a lot else to be said, of course, but I would much rather talk more through the actual correspondence. I hope I did not scare you away. Apparently a profile like this should give a clear idea of the kind of person I am while also leaving some questions. Something to make people interested. I hope I succeeded. I have not done this kind of thing before.

Letters: Emily to Liam 4

Response to Liam’s fourth letter.

Dear Liam,

Thank you so much for your letter.

First of all I have to say that you don’t have to worry about me. I’m not too upset. And your words made me feel a lot better. I knew you’d be understanding and keep my secrets and not think I’m crazy. So thank you so much for that. And thank you for all the things you said to make me feel better too.

You’re so wise and kind, Mr. Liam. I think that life and death are some kind of circle too. I once asked Uncle Tad if there is someone who’s Life as well, but Uncle Tad said that life is for the living. That we are the ones who shape it too much for there to be a being who is simply Life. So life is something that happens, and death is something that ends it. Or something that picks up from where life leaves off. Sounds kind of like a circle to me. Or maybe a spiral that loops back into itself at some point.

And sometimes people get out of that spiral – like you and the other immortals. And maybe ghosts too. Or maybe they’re just sticking their heads through the spiral to say hi to those who are still in it. Like your Anne with the flowers. I’m glad she got to be there when you had to pass on too. I think it’s lovely, seeing a loved one when one dies. And if I want to think about something positive about me having to leave my Uncle, then it’s just that; I know I’ll see a loved one when I die, even though it’ll hurt.

Thank you for telling me about that Twilight Zone -episode. It was lovely. I asked Tad to watch it with me. He liked it a lot too.

“That man smiles a lot better than I do,” he said.

“Could you somehow recruit helpers?” I asked.

“I do not need helpers,” he said.

We sat in a comfortable silence for a while. And then I thought about your letter again, and I just had to ask:

“What happens if a universe gets destroyed?”

“Then I will have a very busy day,” Tad said.

“I mean… what happens to you after that? Or to the universe? Will there be anything left?”

Tad smiled.

“That is one of those things people are free to have theories about. I am not spoiling it.”

He was quiet for a moment.

“Well, I suppose I can tell you that this is not the only universe out there. Far from it.”

It’s one of those things people have theories about, I know. Many universes. I think it sounds neat and logical, but it’s too big a thought to really understand if I think about it too much.

“Oh,” I said, “Well, what about the immortal people here? What happens to them once the universe ends? Would they start over in a new one?”

“I suppose it is possible,” Tad said, “However, I doubt anything can survive the end of a universe unchanged. If someone is bound to never properly meet me, they might be able to start over, but they would probably not be exactly the same.”

He smiled again, and then looked sad.

“This is one of those days with a lot of questions, I see. I hope I did not upset you the other day. Again.”

“You didn’t,” I said, “I talked with my pen pals again. That made me feel better. And so did all this. Seeing you smiling and all.”

“That is good to hear. Writing to other people seems to have done you a lot of good,” he said.

“Yeah. Maybe you should try it too.”

It was only a half-joke. Uncle laughed at that, and then dismissed it all as being too complicated.

I think he was mostly nervous about the thought of having to talk to new people. I’m not sure if him writing to people would be a good idea, really. Then again, it might be an awesome idea. Or then reality might break if Death wrote to someone. I don’t know. Uncle keeps telling me there are cosmic rules that apply to immortal beings, and I think most of them only make sense to him. So I didn’t push the issue and instead I changed the subject:

“My sister asked me to play the guitar at her wedding,” I said. Because she really did ask me to do that just the other day. I’ve been super nervous about it, and I don’t think I’m that good a player, and I’d have to play in front of lots of people, but I wanted to do something nice for my sister.

“That is nice,” Tad said, “What did you say?”

“I said yes. And now I’m terrified.”

Instead of telling me it was going to be okay or laughing or anything, Uncle asked if I wanted to play the songs for him first. So we went to my room and I played a couple of songs. I’ve played for my family sometimes, but I’ve never thought of it as a performance. So I thought about some advice I’d got about stage fright and how to deal with that. So in the end, it didn’t feel so bad. If I could play guitar in front of the Grim Reaper, I could do that in front of others too.

Uncle Tad liked the music – he even started to sing because apparently he knew the words to one of the songs! He’s actually a really good singer – though I guess it’s no surprise seeing how he can sound like anything he wants. He does this surprisingly human-sounding voice that’s sort of wispy and dark, and when he forgets himself, he starts to sing in at least three voices at once and it sounds awesome.

So we had a lovely evening. Something I’m sure he’ll remember later. When I’m gone.

I’m trying not to think about it too much. Live in the moment and all that, embrace the life and the joy like you and many others have told me. It’s still difficult. But maybe I’ll learn someday. I hope I do. You’re right; it’s better to remember how lucky I am to have him as a friend, and to enjoy the things we do have, even when they might end sadly. Especially then.

Oh man, I think my sister is calling me to help with decorating the yard for her wedding. It’s going to be tomorrow! Also guess what? You talking about meringue pie in your last letter made me mention it when people were planning the desserts for the wedding. My other sister – who went vegan just last month – was immediately curious if it could be made without any animal products. So we looked it up, and it’s possible to make vegan meringue out of the water that canned chickpeas are floating in! That was so weird, but we tried it and the end result was delicious, so we’re definitely having small lemon meringue pies at my sister’s wedding.

Yup, food sounds like a good way to end a letter indeed. And talk about family. Your Lenora is indeed lovely; I can understand why you like her so much – and I’m not even related to her so I’m not biased that way. 🙂 How’s life been for you and your folks lately? I’d love to hear more stories about your family!

Wishing you good times,
Emily

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Letters: Emily to Gentian 1

Dear Gentian,

I saw your profile and I just had to write to you! I’m so glad I happened to browse through the pen pal site again! You’re a real Plant Person? That’s so cool! And Gentian – that’s a really pretty name. And you do martial arts too? That’s neat! My brother practises Sim Fu, but I myself haven’t tried any martial arts. It looks really neat, though.

Oh, sorry. I didn’t really start this off very well. I guess I could edit this, but then I probably wouldn’t be able to express how excited I am to meet you. At least not that well.

So let’s back up a bit: Hi! My name is Emily and I’m a normal human girl who lives in a pretty big family in a small countryside town. I’m adopted and I have three siblings, two of whom are also adopted. I’m pen pals with Lenora, and she told me about you at one point. So imagine my surprise when I saw you were taking part in this too! Well… I would have been even more surprised if some others from Lenora’s social circle hadn’t also taken part in this. It’s so neat that you guys are all finding this project. This project has been lots of fun for me, and it has helped me make new friends. I’m not very good at making friends, especially if I need to talk to them. So I figured writing would be easier.

So, I’d really like it if you wanted to write back and we could talk and share experiences about life. But if you don’t want to, then that’s okay too. I really liked your profile and you seem like a nice person who has seen lots of life and everything. You were a scientist? Or well, I guess you still are even though your profile says you’re between jobs. I’m glad your experiments didn’t backfire horribly. I mean, becoming a Plant Person doesn’t seem too bad. In fact, it seems like a pretty awesome thing! Do you plan on still doing something science-y in the future or do you want to try a totally new job?

I’ve been reading a bit about Plant People because they interest me. I read that you need water but not food to survive, and that if you want kids you have to grow them in a garden. That sounds neat to me; growing kids in a garden would be way better than pregnancy. I’ve never been pregnant but I know enough about it to think it’s kind of icky. At least compared to gardening. Do you have kids? Do you need to be out in the sun in order to photosynthesise or something? Do you start wilting or do you just get sick if you don’t get enough water? What do plants talk about to you? I have a friend who also talks to plants. He loves to garden too, and he’s really good at it.

I sometimes remember my biological mum talking to flowers outside our windows. Sometimes I try to talk to plants too. My adoptive family has really lovely flower bushes in the yard. Some of them are behind iron fences and they look like they’re in cages. But they don’t seem to mind; they bloom all the way into the late autumn, bright and cheery. I mean of course iron bars don’t matter when the plant is already bound by roots but is also free to move its pollen around.

I should probably tell you a little bit more about myself, I guess. I mean, I’m jumping all over the place in this letter. Well, like I said, I have three siblings, but my two sisters have already moved out. Though now they’re staying in our house because my oldest sister is getting married with her girlfriend. My oldest sister is super nice and she’s very artistic. Her girlfriend – or fiancée at this point – is nice too. She likes talking to me and even let me borrow this really pretty necklace she has. My other sister is super cool; she’s studying communications and graphic design at the university, and she has a dark sense of humour that I really like.

It’s been nice to have my sisters back, but the house is so busy now. Mum, my sisters and the fiancée are like a hurricane together. A hurricane of wedding-planning. They’re making phone calls and testing recipes – my adoptive mum is a professional chef – and planning invitations and the wedding venue… it’s crazy! I usually go outside or to my room to stay out of the way.

My brother and my adoptive dad stay out of the wedding’s way too unless they’re really needed. Usually they go upstairs or stay in the living room. Once I saw them doing my brother’s homework together, sitting behind the living room’s armchairs as if they were in a trench. My dad is really nice too. He’s working in the town council. My brother is really smart, and he’s also one of my best friends.

And me… well, I’m me. The youngest in the family. I like music and I play the guitar. I love books too. What kinds of books do you like? I mostly read fantasy and detective books. I also really love nature, so we have that in common too! I take lots of walks outside and sometimes just bask in the sun. After school I often go to the nearby park and do my homework there. I did that today too. And tonight there was this monstrous rain shower that hit us right out of nowhere.

I went outside because the sound of rain was soothing. It was like the swoosh of a waterfall, but less crushing.

I felt like I had stepped into another world. A world of water and the calming, swooshing sound. I jumped in puddles and loved every minute of it. Once I got inside my dad smiled and told me to take a warm shower so I wouldn’t get sick.

I guess my point is that I think that nature is always full of so many lovely, wondrous things. I really like that my hometown has plenty of nature everywhere. I figure Plant People would like it here. I’ve gone to look for Plant People a couple of times, but so far I’ve had no luck. I’d love to meet a Plant Person. But it’s already awesome that I can write to one! But that’s not really the only reason I wrote to you. I meant it when I said you seem really nice, and I liked the part in your profile where you said you love life and want some people to share lives with. My life may not be that interesting, but I’m ready to share at least bits and pieces of it and I would love to hear about your life too. If you want to be my pen pal, that is.

I hope you have a lovely day.

Regards,
Emily

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Letters: Emily to Liam 3

Response to Liam’s third letter.

Dear Liam,

Thank you for your letter.

It took me a while to reply to this. To be honest, this time it was mostly because I got a bit emotional. Okay, so very emotional. Don’t worry; you didn’t say or do anything wrong. In fact, you’re a really nice person and your words are wise and very welcome. This is all my fault; I knew what I was signing up for when I started asking about lonely immortals and all. I thought I was ready to handle all the answers, but apparently I wasn’t. At first I wasn’t even sure if I should write any of this. I figured I could just pretend I was okay and talk about books – I really like the King Arthur –legends too! And I once picked up one of Stephen King’s books – Pet Sematary. It was pretty cool, even though I couldn’t finish it because it made me too sad.

I could also ask you about all the nice places you’ve visited during your long life. Or maybe I’d ask you to tell me even more about your family and the adventures you’ve got in. Or dragons! Those dragons sound so amazing! I really wish I could have a dragon-friend. Especially the singing kind. Maybe the dragon could sing while I played the guitar and we could be the coolest band ever.

See? So many nice things I could talk about. But I thought about it for a long while, and I realised that I really want to talk about the sad things with you too. So I asked if it was okay if I told you, and it was.

I have to explain something first. It’s a secret. A really huge secret. So you can’t tell anyone about what I’m going to say. I trust you; you’ve told me so much about you and your family, and you seem like such an honest guy.

Okay, so here goes:

I have an uncle.

Wow, that doesn’t sound nearly as awesome as I hyped it up to be. I mean, he’s not even my real uncle. He’s my best friend but I call him uncle because he’s much, much older than me. He’s much older than anyone, really.

You see, he’s Death. Yes, that Death. The Grim Reaper. The guy who collects everyone’s souls when they die. The very concept of dying made sort of physical. I think that since you’ve had so many magical things happen to you in your life, you’ll believe me and don’t think I’m crazy. You probably don’t even find it all that weird. I also think that this may explain why I’m so okay with supernaturals and immortal people writing to me. And why I’m so curious about death and not afraid of it. I mean, yeah, I am afraid of the unknown that comes after death, but I’m not afraid of death itself. He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Well, I mean, you’ve already met him, since you’ve died. I don’t know what kind of experience you had with meeting him as a person, actually. Or if you even saw him at all since you went to sleep when you died. But still, trust me when I say that he’s really a total sweetheart. He likes tea and nature and loves his job but hates the grief it causes for the living beings. He takes a human form when he’s around me and other people. When he’s not on the job, I mean. And sometimes on the job too.

We call him Tad. It’s short for Thanatos.

I first met him when he came for my mum. When I was still little and all alone with a newly dead mother.

He was kind, so I latched onto him, and I think he got attached to me right away too. And now I couldn’t imagine life without him as a friend. And I don’t have to, really. Because I know he’ll always be around.

But that’s also what made me so emotional. I know he’s lonely. He’s usually not good at making friends, and I know that makes him sad. So I thought that maybe someone like you could tell me about the ways to deal with being immortal and alone – even though you’re thankfully not alone. I hoped you could also tell me how to deal with loved ones passing away so I could maybe help my uncle. You’re really lucky indeed to have so many people around you forever.

Whenever I bring up immortality or eternal loneliness or anything like that, my uncle usually dismisses it and says it’s not my job to worry about that stuff. That I should just worry about life instead. But I can’t just stop. I keep thinking what it’ll be like when I get older… when it’ll be my time and he has to be the one to send me away from him forever. Because he says that eventually, the souls of the dead pass on to a place where he can’t go.

I asked him about immortal people the last time he visited me. It was not long after I got your latest letter. He said that immortality is usually not meant for people, and that he shouldn’t really be too involved with the few people who do somehow become immortal. It’s probably frowned upon in some cosmic rules. And I guess that was his way of telling me that he usually doesn’t make friends with the immortal people.

“I got new friends,” I said to him. We sat by a field in the evening, and I could smell hay and the approaching night, “Pen pals. They say they’re magical and immortal.”

“That is nice,” he said, “I am glad you are making new friends.”

“Do you know the people I’ve been writing to?”

“I know whom you mean. They are good people.”

I told him I didn’t want him to be alone. He said  that he wasn’t, at the moment. I think he too was trying to make me think about living in the moment, like you did in your letter.

“What about when I pass away? Or when the others do?”

“Then I will be honoured to make sure your passing will go just right. You know that.”

“I could stay with you. Forever.”

It wasn’t the first time I’d said that to him. He smiled. Sadly.

“You really do not want to stay for that long,” he said, like always, but this time he added, “Forever is a matter of perspective. For you, a lifetime is a forever. For your new friends, forever is longer. Can you even imagine how long it is?”

“No,” I said. I still couldn’t.

“For me, it will be even longer than that.”

And that was it. End of that conversation. He asked me about my day, and even tried to tell a joke. He’s terrible at jokes. And I say that with love.

I know that I should be thinking about this more positively. To remind myself that Uncle Tad has other friends too. This other friend he has is already a mum, so Tad is becoming friends with her kids too. They’re nice kids, and I sometimes babysit them, even though I’m more used to spending time with people who are older than me. The kids’ mum jokes that Tad is like a family heirloom; his friendship passes on from generation to generation. Maybe I too will have kids someday, and Tad’ll be our heirloom friend too. He said he likes the sound of that.

Still, longer than forever is much longer than a human family tradition. And it’ll contain lots of goodbyes.

But I guess worrying won’t really help much because there isn’t much I can do, right? So I’ll try to live in the present more. To not worry about the future too much. It’s not easy a lot of the time.

My mind keeps going to the past and the future a lot. But I know you’re right; I should focus on just cherishing the time we do have. Cherish… that’s a nice word with a nice meaning. Maybe I’ll name my future kid that. If I ever have kids, that is. I don’t know yet.

Thank you for your stories. The story about the flowers at your Anne’s grave especially made me smile. Made me feel better. I too like to think that your Anne really does tend those flowers. Or at least her memory does. They must be beautiful. Maybe I too will leave some signs behind. Signs that I’ve loved things in this world. And the people and beings that are still here can remember me then and imagine I’m near. And cherish the time we’ve had.

Thanks for listening to me about this and again answering all my prying questions earlier. You really are very kind, Mr. Liam. And despite your letter making me feel emotional, it also comforted me. You have such a happy outlook on life despite all the things that have happened.

Maybe I’ll still ask you about your travels and adventures now. Or food. What’s your favourite food? I like risotto, especially the way my adoptive mum makes it. I also really like sandwiches. I often put peach and pineapple slices on them. And I love chocolate-coated ginger! That’s more like a snack or a candy, really, but it’s still food.

I’m glad your family is doing well now. I like hearing about them and getting to know them through you. I’m looking forward to your next letter.

Sincerely,
Emily

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