Letters by Sash
The letters arrived from the past, dusty yet intact, one sunny afternoon in August. I was busy wiping down the bookshelf, so I almost missed the whisper-thin sound of paper sliding from an old notebook onto my sister’s lap. Her bare knees were an island in the paraphernalia of my old bedroom; books, felt tip pens, discarded textiles projects, plush toys, a broken clock. We were deep into a week-long spring cleaning and the end goals - a visible floor, cups of tea and rest - felt far away. “I’d almost forgotten about these!” said my sister as she turned over the envelopes. “3rd July 2010 - to be opened on 3rd July 2020!” Sending anything through time is always a gamble. The recipients on the other end usually forget they’re waiting for anything, and you can’t track delivery. The fact that we’d only overshot by three weeks was pretty good going. “Well done, us,” I said, dropping the duster and polish and carving out some space on the floor beside her. There was a letter from each of our past selves. We’d tried to predict the next ten years, like whether our local shopping centre would still be standing (it is) and whether we’d be in good jobs (eh…) and what ridiculous hairstyle would come back into fashion. There was, I think, absolutely nothing of substance. “To our future selves, I hope you’re doing well! All the best! S xxx” was my younger self’s cheerful sign-off. My sister and I laughed about our letters, folded them up and tucked them back inside the notebook they had arrived from. I returned to cleaning and realised that I actually felt kind of annoyed with S. Why would you send a letter forward that had so little in it? If I was sending one back, I’d write… well… I thought about it. What did S need to hear? Don’t think too hard about things. Stop dating guys because it’s easy and you’re scared. A gender neutral name and pronouns will change your life. Also there’ll be a pandemic, a Tory government, systemic racism and a fuckton of protests. 2020 is basically the apocalypse that keeps on giving. But you’ll get your degree so that’s good I guess. Good luck! …Yeah, it was a lot. S had probably been pretty overwhelmed, too. “Why don’t we write some more predictions?” I looked up at my sister, who had been watching me swipe a cobweb away from the ceiling. She shrugged. “It could be a laugh.” “Sure, why not.” I honestly had no idea what to predict, or what else to write. What else do you send into the future? What’s worth holding onto? My sister was already rummaging in the debris for paper and pens. I took in the mess that was my room, sunlight streaming through the windows and the air heavy with dust and polish. My niece was downstairs, screeching with laughter. We would be going out to dinner later as a family. Throughout the course of the day, we’d unearthed tons of memories amongst all this junk. It was fun, but did future S really need any of it? Maybe it was less about the predictions or the letters themselves and more about the process of writing them. What if I wrote down everything about this moment, embedded the sounds and smells and thoughts and feelings in ink with perfect clarity, and sent them off into the future? What better gift to give to my future self, than a memory?
Sash (they/them) is a queer, non-binary writer from the UK. They like sci-fi, pole fitness and improv comedy. They have a podcast, Canon Or Not? and have previously been published in various online presses. Sash is one half of the team behind Tealight Press, an online queer literary magazine. They can be found on twitter @Sp1ritJam.