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Please open this letter while I'm at work

Written by Amanda Nunes Alvarenga

Edited by Iana A.

Copyedited by André Colabelli



Even as I begged her to stay, I knew she was right. Our re­la­tion­ship wouldn’t have worked in the long run. We were get­ting too used to each other’s pres­ence, too ser­i­ous when we fan­tas­ized about our wed­ding and our home to­gether, but there was never go­ing to be a fu­ture for us. We knew we were doomed from the very be­gin­ning, mom, and that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Also, your knife would be kind of use­less against Sara, con­sid­er­ing that she was dead long be­fore we met. That’s the other part, Mom. When I was a little girl, you made me prom­ise I’d never be­friend a ghost, never be­come close to a ghost,and, most im­port­antly, never fall in love with one. In our line of work, we find ghosts and we guide them to the next stage be­fore they can be­come venge­ful or angry, or simply lost. We don’t get at­tached to them and we never, ever, ever try to keep them around.

I re­mem­ber the day we let Dad go. That was the only time you went against Grandpa’s les­sons and your own be­liefs. You asked Dad to stay just a little while, just un­til my birth­day, just so he could help you a bit, just so we could fig­ure things out… For once, he was the one to fol­low the code, and he did it to keep us safe. Dad hugged you one last time and kissed my fore­head. I was already in bed, eyes closed, try­ing not to make a noise. Neither of you knew I was listen­ing, but I was. I saw the light when he moved on. You cried the whole night and I couldn’t sleep, but I didn’t want you to find out I was awake. Some secrets should stay quiet, but I guess that one is out now – just like me.

I get it now, mom. Ra­tion­ally, I knew that Sara had to go. In fact, that’s how I found her. I was sup­posed to get to know her mo­tiv­a­tions so I could help her let go of this realm, but then we star­ted to un­der­stand each other, see­ing through each other in such deep, beau­ti­ful ways… Fall­ing in love is not a choice but even if it was, I think I’d choose to love her any­way.

The only is­sue we ever fought about was the right time for her to leave. I wanted to delay it as much as pos­sible. Sara wanted to speed things up so I could move on but, at the same time, she couldn’t help but join me in the day­dreams about our fam­ily to­gether. We wanted to get a house in Brazil… She’s from there, too! You’d love to meet her, I swear.

That’s what we were talk­ing about when she figured it out. I had thought of it first, but I said noth­ing be­cause I wanted more time. Selfish, I know, but I think you’re the one per­son who can un­der­stand why I kept quiet, Mom. That night, Sara real­ized that she needed to see her home one last time so she could say good­bye. We talked about it for hours and we cried ourselves to sleep in each other’s arms.

The next morn­ing, I got on a plane to São Paulo. Her root here was her neck­lace – the one with the little ‘S’ I’ve been wear­ing around my neck – so I had to be the one to take her home. After the flight, we took three buses to get to Sara’s ho­met­own. She guided me to the little house where she grew up. If we had any doubts about this plan, they faded away when Sara kneeled to the ground. Her hands touched the earth but her eyes drank up the sky.

When she got up, she star­ted walk­ing around slowly and show­ing me stor­ies in every corner. The old mango tree where her ini­tials were carved, the wooden box that once stored her books, the brick walls that she de­scribed as the realest part of the world… Everything was as solid as it was eth­er­eal. That was it, mom. We watched the sun­set to­gether in a per­fect cliché. Sara was hug­ging me as she went.

I should have looked for a hotel room or some­thing, but I just broke down. I stayed there and I cried in front of that aban­doned house for so long, mom... I wish I had got­ten up and hugged you the night Dad moved on be­cause nobody should ever have to feel that alone. I’m so sorry, mom. For all of us, I’m so sorry. You’d think that people who work with death are pre­pared to handle it, but we keep hid­ing our grief, even if we know the pain is much heav­ier when it’s not shared.

It’s so dif­fi­cult to put this into words, but I’m hop­ing you can read bey­ond my lines be­cause I know you’ve felt this too. I’m happy, but it hurts. It’s such a bless­ing that she’s free. Sara de­serves more peace and beauty than this world could ever handle, but I miss her so much,and, be­ing very selfish again, I kind of hope she misses me too. Does that make me a bad per­son, mom? I know I’ll re­mem­ber her as long as I live and, prob­ably, after that too. It seems fair that she doesn’t for­get me as she be­gins her etern­ity.

Well, this got deeper than I in­ten­ded, but that’s okay. I can never meas­ure my words when I’m talk­ing to you, and it’s such a re­lief that I no longer have to. Next time we need to cry, prom­ise me we’ll hug each other through it?

With all my love (and way more sin­cer­ity than re­com­men­ded),

Your daugh­ter.


Amanda Nunes Alvarenga

Amanda Nunes Al­var­enga is Brazilian, from Mi­nas Gerais, born in 1997. She lives to read lit­er­at­ure, with a par­tic­u­lar fond­ness for spec­u­lat­ive fic­tion. Brazilian stor­ies warm her heart. She has a flash fic­tion pub­lished by Faísca.

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