Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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Farewell Address

by Eleanor Damaschke


The doctors have been saying that I don't have much longer to live. In fact, if I know you, you probably waited until after the funeral to open this note. It's probably just as well.

Don't read this until after the funeral. Telling "she made me laugh when..." stories will only be harder if you hate me. Remember when I told you there were things about me that you would hate? This letter is full of them.

All right. The funeral is done. My sisters are most likely fighting over my will, and Mother has probably locked herself in her room where she'll get quietly drunk and cry. And that's all right. I don't take offense. Right now, there are things that you need to know. First, make sure the doors and windows are locked. You always forget the bedroom window. Draw the curtains. Turn off the TV. Unplug the phone. No one can ever know this but you. And please, please, try not to freak out when you read the next bit, all right?

I meant to tell you at the beginning of this letter, but it seemed like a really weird way to start. So here it is; I'm not dead.

Now, before you tear this letter to pieces, remember that I am telling you, even though I can't tell anyone else. I really shouldn't even be telling you. My official records will say that I'm dead. Missy Smith won't exist anymore. If people knew I was still alive, I can only imagine what they'd do--probably lay me on a slab and dissect me. But what can I say? I'm a sucker for a pretty face. I can't share all the juicy details just yet. Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you in person. For now, just believe me when I say that I'm not dead, OK?

We thought that my father was just some lonely drunk, had a one-night stand and disappeared. Yes, we. Don't bother talking to Mother--either she doesn't know, or she's not allowed to talk about it. Not that it makes much difference. My father wasn't a drunk. Well, maybe he was. Whatever. He wasn't human.

Not human? Yeah, right. At this point, I seriously considered calling the cops. (You know me and cops. Ever since that botched job with the next-door neighbors and their "garden business," I just can't have faith in the justice system.) No, I can't tell you who it was that told me these things, but I can say that he came to see me while I was in the hospital. Yes, that was real, I actually was sick, and it really, really sucked. I probably shouldn't bother explaining myself. It'll all sound like excuses anyway. But I don't want you to think that I lied. I didn't. At least, not about that. Not about anything really. Well, except being dead--but I can't really help that.

You might ask "so, if he's not human, then what is he?" I wish there was a simple answer. Second thing you'll hate me for--I'm not human either. (Well, duh, of course I'm not, if my dad's not.) Shut up. What I mean is that I've always known.

To be fair, I'm not really sure what I am, only what I'm not. You might remember, when we were in high school, I did a lot of research into vampires, elves, lycanthropes, witches and all that. Mermaids, changelings, fairies... you name it, and I've probably checked out a book on it at some point. But there's nothing in any mythos I can find that really covers what I am. The closest I ever got was a thing called a "selkie." It's apparently a seal that takes off its skin so it can walk around like a human. It's like... I'm walking around without my skin on. Like I'm missing a layer, you know? I don't know what I'm missing, only that it's not there.

By now, you probably think that I'm insane. Sure, let's humor the dead girl. I'll burn this when I'm done and no one will ever have to know I was engaged to a lunatic. Please, Joe, don't think that. I'm not crazy. I just... don't fit. It's never felt right, being the way I am. And now I think I know why. If there's more out there than just us, then maybe that's why it never really felt right. I want this to be the reason, understand? I would much rather be something not human than be human and crazy.

I guess this really is too complicated to go in a letter. Hopefully, I'll be seeing you again soon. Just remember that I'm not dead, OK? Wait for me. Stay safe, keep your nose clean, and don't let anyone else see this letter.

Until next time,


2014 Eleanor Damaschke

Bio: My name is Caitlin Taylor, but I'm better known on the web as Eleanor Damaschke. Favorite ice cream: "Death By Chocolate." Major achievements: surviving NaNoWriMo, holding down a job, graduating college. Ultimate dream: big family, full bookshelves, and a well-used kitchen.

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