Story:A Letter From Hiro
A Letter From Hiro
Written by TriangleDelta
January 8, 2010
So I know after I wrote you about the whole… Catherine… situation thing, you told me that we weren't doing any more secrets. You said that I was supposed to just give it to you straight, that it wasn't going to work if I didn't.
I haven't been good at that. I am sorry. I get this stupid voice in my head that says that you've got it worse, and that I shouldn't be putting all of this onto you when you've got your own shit to deal with. I'm never sure if that voice is being honest, or if it's me lying to myself to give me an easy out. I think it's the same voice that always keeps me from doing, well… fucking anything when things are bad.
I want to be better about that, though. So here we go. I'm going to try.
There comes a point when you notice that things have shrunk. I imagine it's like going bald. It's not a thing that happened all at once - it was gradual and you didn't notice everything going away, one small strand at a time. Then one day you're looking in the mirror, and you notice. Then you can't ever stop noticing.
That's what it's like living with somebody with a terminal illness. No matter what the doctors say, no matter what you tell yourself, you're always planning for the time when things are 'better.' It starts out simple. Yeah, he's going to go downhill overall, but maybe once things stable out a bit and he's feeling alright for a while, we'll be able to do that family trip we always wanted. Or hell, maybe somehow we'll be able to find some spare few thousand dollars, and we can go visit Japan. He can introduce me to his family. It'll be great. Sure, we're barely covering rent, but it'll come together.
Then one day, a few years later, you're walking home from work through the rain, and you notice a new wood fired pizza place on the corner, and you think, "Hey, maybe one day he'll feel good enough for us to go grab a slice." Then you stop walking, and it hits you. Not like a tonne of bricks all at once. More like a tonne of bricks, one brick at a time over the next few weeks and months. You realize how you've scaled back your fantasies.
Things haven't been great lately. That's all there is to it. I'm at the point where I'm dreaming about the days where he feels fine for an afternoon so we can get some dinner together.
I think this is endgame, Garet. Fuck it, I know this is endgame. I keep telling myself that I'm ready for it. Once in a while I even believe that. I know I'm not, though. I know that I have no fucking idea what this is going to be like. I know it's going to suck, and that it's going to get way fucking worse before it starts to get better. I am scared.
I mean, that's it. I don't have the hopeful upswing. I don't, like… fuck, man. I had you and, fucked as it is, I had Catherine. I don't anymore. I am going to a dark place. This whole fucking thing has been a dark place. I intend to make it out the other side, but it fucking sucks right now. There have been a few times over the past few years, when he's been angry because he can't remember what you just said because the chemo's fucking with his brain, or where I'm frustrated because I want him to not feel like shit for one fucking day, or when I've been tired from practicing all the time all week and I can barely use the bathroom because it stinks like…
I dunno. There have been times that I've wanted it to just be done. For the doctors to finally say, "That's it, it's over, you've all fought enough." Those are the thoughts that really scare me. That maybe I did understand what he was telling me when he said that he was stopping his treatments. That maybe I wanted that a bit, too.
So… yeah. That's where I'm at, Garet. I'm tired. I'm scared. I think I might be a bad person. I think I'll feel better in the morning, but right now I don't.
Catherine kept staring down at the letter in her hands for a few moments after she finished reading it. She was impressed with herself that her hands weren't shaking. At length, she sighed, and muttered, "So… this was the last letter you got from him before his dad…?"
"Yeah." The crocodile took a heavy seat across from her.
"So what'd you write back?"
Garet snorted. "I was a stupid fucking kid. I wrote back and told him all the shit I thought he needed to hear. Stupid platitudes. Look, I can talk to somebody and comfort them and all that shit in person, but in a letter? No, I had no idea what I was doing. When he eventually responded, he acted like nothing had happened; like he'd never sent me this letter. It was a few months before I found out his dad had died. All I know is that suddenly he was playing basketball again, and going hard."
"Yeah, that sounds about right."
Catherine slid the letter back across the small table towards Garet. The crocodile looked almost silly there, seated at the tiny thing. Catherine let her gaze wander around the apartment's small kitchen. She knew she shouldn't be, but she was astonished at how… small the space was for the amount she was paying for it. Still…
"So how're you otherwise?"
"Fine, fine." Garet shrugged. He carefully folded the paper back up, and then slid it into a file folder. Inside of it, Catherine could make out dozens of other pieces of paper - the many letters that he and Hiro had traded over the years of Garet's incarceration. "School's…" He hesitated, and then couldn't hold back a grin. "I mean, it's weird as hell going back to school after however many years away. I honestly don't know if I would've been ready for it when I was done high school, though, so… maybe it's better off like this."
Catherine couldn't hold back a crooked grin at those words. "Don't tell me you're thanking me for getting you framed."
Garet snorted. "No, I don't think you're getting off the hook quite that easily." The two of them lapsed into silence after that. The light coming in through the window was already starting to get dimmer, and Catherine knew that she should get going before things got dark. Garet must have realized this, because the enormous crocodile glanced over at her.
"So did you want to look at any of the other letters before you go, or…"
"No. No that was it. Um… thank you for letting me look at it. I know it was personal. I'm honestly kind of surprised you didn't just hang up when I asked you."
Garet gave a long, slow shrug, not breaking eye contact with the cockatoo. "Look, the two of you have beef. I get it. Maybe I shouldn't have shown that letter to you. But like… I dunno." He trailed off. Then, he muttered, "Hiro is angry with you."
"I think that's understating it a bit. He hates me."
"So did I." That made Catherine blink. Garet didn't falter. "I hated you for a really long time. You fucking know that. But… eventually it's not enough. It's the bullshit that they put into after school specials, but still. I won't ever forget what you did to me. I don't know if I'll ever even forgive you for it. I do want to move past it, though."
Catherine didn't respond at first. Her chin was resting on her palm, and her eyes were cast down. She didn't trust herself to look at the crocodile again. "You know, somehow that helps."
"I fucking hope it does." He snorted again. "Lord knows I have enough shitty things I did that I have to make up for."
Catherine nodded. She felt the needling urge in the back of her head to push at him, to ask if he had actually changed. She resisted it, and the urge to look around the kitchen for any sign of drugs. It was a rule she'd set for herself when she'd offered to pay his rent for while he was at school - she didn't get to judge his personal choices. If he wanted to make a stupid decision, that was on him.
"Thanks," she finally settled on, and she started for the door.
"Any time," he replied. While she was getting her shoes on, he asked, "Where's the next race?"
"Britain, in a couple weeks. Some ridiculous bullshit that's supposed to take two days or something."
Garet winced. "Jesus, Catherine. Why the hell do you do that stuff to yourself?"
Catherine stood up from doing up her shoes, then shrugged. "Hiro cuts himself off. I just push myself deeper. It's as simple as that."
She waved goodbye to him, then headed down the steps of the apartment building. The words of Hiro's letter echoed in her head.