Summer is almost over. It doesn’t feel like it is almost fall, since it is unbearably hot and the sky is blue and cloudless every day. It’s blindingly bright when I look outside, but most of the time I just sit on the bay window and read. (Right now, I’m reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.) School starts in a week. I haven’t talked to someone other than Mom or Dad in so long, so I’m writing to you. It’ll be good practice with two-way communication.
I didn’t end up doing much baking after. It seemed wrong since it was something we were going to do together. Also, don’t tell anyone, but when I tried to bake cookies for Mom’s birthday, I would feel an urge to slam my hands down on the hot grills in the oven and watch what would happen. It scares me though, so I figured it’d be best to stay away from the oven. I also can’t really go swimming anymore, even though you went in a river and not in a community pool with lifeguards and everything. Mom says I’ll get over it. Dad volunteered to sit with me by the community pool a bit every day until I felt better, but I don’t think I’m even ready for that. I could see his disappointment, but I think he understood.
After all, he saw your body too. Before the mortician put make-up on you and put you in that flouncy baby blue dress that you hate and such. We were with the search party that found you washed up downriver, past the Vesper Woods, a few miles out of Fairview. It was pretty far from where you left your clothes. I spotted you first.
Your chest and stomach were distended, like you were discolored, patchy skin stretched over an oblong balloon. The medical examiner said that the patchiness was due to blood pooling in different places. A bit of skin was missing from your face – maybe the fish in the river nibbled off pieces or maybe small pebbles in the current chipped away at your skin in the four days it took to find you. I thought you would be stiffer, like when you see murder victims on crime shows, with their skin all taut and waxy, but you were surprisingly fleshy. More flesh than human. It could have also been your face. When we found you, your eyes were closed but your mouth hung open and your protruding tongue looked more like a thick slab of meat trying to escape than a normal tongue. And the smell – once the shock subsided and my senses returned, I threw up. That didn’t help the smell. I wanted to touch you (is that weird?), but as I reached out, Dad grabbed my hand and shook his head.
While the police in the search party filled out paperwork, Dad called Aunt Polina. Dad didn’t want to look at you. He just glanced at you and flinched away, and then he would look at the woods, at the rocks in the river, slightly above you, at the sky, but never at your body. I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. That’s why I can remember everything so clearly, even though it’s been a month and a half. A medical examiner came. They put you in a body bag and I watched as each part of you disappeared. Then they took you to the morgue.
Dad and I walked home from the Vesper Woods. It took a few hours. Mom and Aunt Polina took the car so they could head directly over to the morgue, and we wanted to walk anyway. Then when I got home – well, it’s not that interesting. I thought you’d like to know how your body ended up though, how it really looked.