It pains us to write this letter

To the McKelveys,

You’ve been our closest, dearest friends for as long as we can remember. Some of the happiest times of our lives have been spent in your company and I think I speak for Bob as well when I say that just about every happy memory of our adult lives has been shared with you.

We love you as we love our own flesh and blood family, and if it came right down to it, you might be the only people we would pull into a life raft ahead of our own offspring.  You’ve always been there in our time of need. When I needed a kidney, you, Helen, gave me one of yours (thank you so much, it’s working perfectly!). When Bob lost all of our money in the Madoff scheme, the two of you paid our mortgage until we got back on our feet.

I think you know how we feel about you, but in case you didn’t, Bob and I wanted to make sure to put it down on paper.

As you know, each year we drop one of our couple friends – a tradition that goes back well over thirty years now. It all started with the Kruzkowiczes, that annoyingly cloying couple, and it just seemed like such a good idea at the time that we “cull the crop” every year. Out with the old and in with the new! It keeps things fresh.

Well, due to the thinning of our corps of friends through our lovely tradition and the usual kinds of attrition, this leaves us with just you as friends. And over the last year, we’ve really come to rely on you since we really have no one else, and you’re so good-natured and generous with redundant organs, we hoped to never come to this point.

But, the Jenkinses were killed in that horrific crash on the cross county, and the Dows retired to Alaska, and – of all the gall – the Dewbys dropped us. Us! Can you believe the horrible things she said at the Polar Opposites Convention? So I’m afraid that leaves just you. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but tradition is tradition.

To get things rolling we’re rescinding our Thanksgiving invitation and, of course, we won’t be taking the cruise together. Please have Apollo return Bob’s chain saw and I think it only fair that you leave the knitting circle, Helen, since I’m the founder. That leaves just me, so I guess the circle comes to an end as well. I hope it’s OK that I keep using the kidney, but I understand if you want it back. If things were reversed, I might do the same.

All the best,

Bob and Donna

Bob the Flipchart

Bob the Flipchart

The argument started in the box – Bob was part of a flipchart 3-pack and he shared space with his two siblings, Miriam and Filbert. Miriam was saying – and he really had no memories of anything before – that life began when flipcharts were bound. Flibert argued that life surely began before that, when the pages that were so integral to flipcharts were first made and cut to size. No memories of anything before the argument…that bothered Bob, but he didn’t as yet know why.

“You’re both wrong,” he said. “Life begins long before we take shape, when we’re just a bunch of wood pulp floating in a vat.”

“If that’s the case,” said Filbert. “Then what about pre wood pulp? Surely there was life.”

“You could make the argument,” said Miriam in her firm voice that Bob realized he found condescending. “That our lives began the moment the tree that became our life-pulp was cut down.”

They all murmured their assent. Personally, Bob didn’t want to think about how the life of a flipchart was dependent on the death of a tree.

Many mystics asserted that flipchart and tree were one, even if only one was conscious at a time. They were all connected in a glorious circle of life. Blah, blah, blah.

“Circle shmircle,” said Filbert. We do not die and become trees. It’s linear. Trees live, then willingly give their lives so that they may become flipcharts.”

“In a way, we’re their afterlife,” Miriam said.

“Which makes this… what, heaven?” said Filbert. Bob was not at all convinced that this wasn’t just a load of hooey to pass the time.

It went on like that for awhile and soon Bob dozed to the soothing sound of his brother’s and sister’s voices.

Eventually, Bob ended up on an easel in a windowless room near an easel with Miriam. Together they looked out on an oval conference table and a whiteboard. Neither of them knew what became of Filbert. Some days the room was bright and filled with people who wrote or drew things on their pages. Bob felt satisfaction in fulfilling his destiny. Most of the time, his pages would be flipped back, revealing a new page. But every so often a page would be torn and taped to a wall, or crumpled and thrown away. It didn’t hurt, but he remembered less with each lost page until he was unaware of anything at all.

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