Write a letter to your shadow, your alter ego, your darker side, or the parts of you that you have repressed in favour of your more socially acceptable persona. Try to include the reasons why you disowned these parts (or characters) and propose a reconciliation.

Below is one of the many letters that will eventually be exchanged between Esther and her father, Sympco.

Dear Esther,

I don’t know if this letter will ever find you since you picked up and left. Hurt a lot that you did that and I’m still trying to understand. I do know that your mother is sorry, though she too stubborn to say it. She sits at the kitchen table just scratching at paper until the page rips or the lead breaks. I sit on the porch looking at the stars. You always liked watching them when waiting for me to come home. Just sit there looking up, talking to yourself, playing with your hair, the end of your dress or a piece of paper you brought from school.

When you saw me coming down the dirt road, you’d always get to bouncing. Just hopped to me till I caught you in my arms. Running our small fingers through my hair to remove any dirt that didn’t leave me. Then you start talking, ignoring all the other workers around us milling back to their homes. Sometimes it just be you and me out there, you talking and bouncing and me trying to hold on to you.

But then you just left.

I know I’m not the best daddy. Some think it’s enough to to just come home Ben if a couple of days go by in between. I tried not to be that way with you even on the bad days when my arms ache from heaving dirt or your mama fussing about nothing. You know how she can go on about some garbage not being out, bottle on the table or just me talking to someone in town. Any kindness I show to someone else she always gets suspicious of my intentions. Sometimes I just want to stay in that hole, especially since you not around. Down there, nobody cares that I don’t talk like I should. The words seem to fly out of my mouth sometimes, just jamming together. It’s why I stopped talking at twelve, teacher calling me in front of the class asking me to read a paragraph out loud. I don’t see words like I should, letters sometimes fade off the page as I’m searching for the sounds to form them. Entire words end up all kinds a ways, turned around and upside down.

Me pissing my pants in front of everyone didn’t help none.

Rylo laughing at me now. He’s the one writing this letter though the rats we sometimes uncover nesting in the graves could probably write better than his chicken scratch. Not many people I could ask though, either working, not caring or ilitrent not able to scratch a few words to paper. I don’t think Rylo minds, he doing it after all. Plus, he gets to poke fun at me for being so soft. He wouldn’t poke fun if he had a daughter. I also remind him that I’m his boss and I can make him write whatever I want. Even that thing he don’t want me to tell you, how he

When he tries to fight me, if that’s what you call his squirming and carrying on,I twist his arm till he starts howling. Then he quits and everyone gets a good laugh. He’s good for that at least. Something to break up the nights which turn into days now too. White boys just falling out of hospital beds still, ten more to replace them anyway. Anyone that can still searching for them back at Hawaii. Boss tells the crying mothers and fathers or whoever just falls on his steps wailing to just box and bring them in. Boss is too blind by that thirsty kind of greed to see anyone mourning. I seen too many sorry mothers to tell them a part.

Only one that stuck out was Mrs. Truly-Anne. You remember her son, Bobby? Big boy who couldn’t ever find pants that fit. Your mother always had to cut the bottom of some pants and sew them to the bottom of another? They say he was there, probably being foolish since he wasn’t too smart to begin with. You know Mrs. Truly-Anne can’t hold nothing for too long. Anyway, someone found his body just floating in the ocean. His mother spent all her savings getting to him before the birds did. Can’t imagine what she looked like, viewing him all chewed and torn by bullets. Sold her pearls just to get him home, the last thing her dead husband left so she could put her dead son in the ground. Got lucky her husband drowned, too drunk to remember he can’t swim. Body still wasting away at the bottom of the lake. Rylo talking about me being too blunt but I just say what I seen.

And I seen her face as she looked at the holes we’d been digging. Her jaw just crooked now, mouth poking out on one side. Skin so dry flakes just dropping off her and eyes just slowly being swallowed by her skull. Boss don’t care, just only tell her to search through the nigger plots where her son belongs.

That’s when she noticed me noticing her. I dodn’t want to talk so I just jumped in the nearest hole, never minding my busted leg. Few minutes went by and I get to thinking about you, floating in the water. I’m just standing on the edge just looking at you and I can see fish swimming under you, picking at you through the bullet holes, lips kissing your torn up flesh.

Then something awful shakes through me and my bad legs kicks up on its own causing me to fall back in the grave. I look up and Mrs. Truly-Anne just watching me. She ask me if I’m taking the hole for myself. I said no cause I ain’t dead. She ask the usual questions, price, how deep it’s supposed to be and where she can get a casquet box for the body made. My leg gets to kicking again so all I can do is sit down and let it buck. You and I both know it only larms up like that when there’s trouble coming.

She shows up a few days later with the body in a box. Bottom falls out as we lower it in the ground. Only boys left that didn’t sign up for the war are Me, Rylo and Corey plus a few guys you didn’t meet. Haven’t heard from the twins, neither has their momma. But Mrs. Truly-Anne, bottom gone from her box, gets to hollering, shaking and pacing, flakes coming off her like snow. I told Rylo and Corey to get in there, see what they can do about the box, Bobby don’t need to be chewed by nothing else. Corey acts like he can’t hear, looking in all directions but mine. What kind of grave differ afraid of a dead body? He can dig though. One of the best on my team.

Rylo tries pulling on his arm and I’m pushing from the back but Corey won’t move. Rooted himself to the ground. We all stop wrestling when we hear something bang in the hole. Scared a couple a crows from a nearby tree it was so loud. Now Rylo and Corey both too chicken to get in the hole. My leg gets to shaking again when Mrs. Truly-Anne ain’t where she was. Side stepping, I peek in and there she is, face down, floating. Don’t need to touch her to see she dead. Rylo and Corey tell all kinds of stories about what happened until they both get on my nerves. No respect for the dead.

Corey touches his first dead body and shits himself.

Rylo sticks the box back together as best he can.

Both bodies fit together, son right under his momma. You could tell that’s where he wanted to be, his soul just summoning her.

And she went.

Seeing them like that reminded me of you. Not the dead you I dreamed up but the you who come running for me, falling asleep on my chest. never mind the dirt and mud of the day steering all over your good clothes. I know I don’t know a lot of things but I do know that people just people. Some good, some bad, some in the middle. What you’re momma did was bad but the good in it is that she was trying to protect you. me working late and hard is good even though it took me away from you. What these Japs boys from overseas did was good for them, bad for us.

And your boy just stuck in the middle bit, between the good and the bad.

But if this letter finds you, it’d be good to hear from you. Your writing can’t be worse then my talking and Rylo’s scribblings.

You are always on my mind and in my heart.

With love from your daddy,

Sympco Wilcox

P.S. Please, if you do respond, write in pencil. Though Rylo says pen is better, once I got a good look at this not I seen some places with scratches on scratches. Either he can’t hear right or he just think he smarter then me.

I know what a scratch looks like.