Good Narrative Principles

Character Flash: Turns Out I Didn’t Really Know You


Dear You,

I’ve been saddled with the awful job of calling up people you knew to tell them about your passing. We could have divvied up the list of known friends, but I’m the only one “between jobs” right now and so I volunteered to step up on your behalf. Initially, I assumed I’d white knuckle through it, a bit like taking a deep breath and jumping off the dock. Most calls leave me emotionally drained, and so it’s taken me weeks, not hours to complete this heavy weight of a task.

What hurts me most is this idiot idea that I knew you. You as embodied in your taste in music, film, friends and so on. Instead, most calls reveal something I never could have imagined. I assumed this process would be like a peeling an onion. But now, three…four weeks into the process, it’s more like trudging up an endless mountain. That’s on the good days. On bad days, I could swear I’ve fallen into a dark hole. You played pinocle!? Spent your Junior year in Tibet!? Raised a pet squirrel to earn a merit badge!? How did I not know this?

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