mary and max.

Dear Mary,

Please find enclosed my entire Noblet collection as a sign that I forgive you. When I received your book, the emotions inside my brain felt like they were in a tumble dryer, smashing into each other.

The hurt felt like when I accidentally stapled my lips together.

The reason I forgive you is because you are not perfect. You are imperfect, and so am l. All humans are imperfect, even the man outside my apartment who litters.

When I was young, I wanted to be anybody but myself. Dr Bernard Hazelhof said if I was on a desert island then I would have to get used to my own company, just me and the coconuts. He said I would have to accept myself, my warts and all, and that we don't get to choose our warts. They are a part of us and we have to live with them.

We can, however, choose our friends and I am glad I have chosen you.

Dr Bernard Hazelhof also said that everyone's lives are like a very long sidewalk. Some are well paved. Others, like mine, have cracks, banana skins and cigarette butts. Your sidewalk is like mine but probably not as many cracks. Hopefully, one day our sidewalks will meet and we can share a can of condensed milk.

You are my best friend.

You are my only friend.

Your American penpal,

Max Jerry Horowitz.


Max had died peacefully that morning,

after finishing his final can of condensed milk.

He smelt like liquorice and old books, Mary thought to herself,

as tears rolled from her eyes, the colour of muddy puddles.

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