LETTER OF RESIGNATION
At the bottom of her box of important things, alongside her college diploma, a menu from her wedding and her grandmother’s pearls, Radost had also saved a few regular sheets of A4 paper, fastened together with a staple and all the weight of the years. Her husband had long since forbidden her from rereading them, there’s no point, so many things have happened since then, but she took advantage of the fact that he was out getting some medicine to pull out the box and put on her glasses:
L E T T E R O F R E S I G N A T I O N
This letter of resignation will surely surprise you, but I insist on writing down here everything as I have seen it since the first moment I laid eyes on you. (Until now I haven’t had a good opportunity to do so, you yourself have seen how quickly everything has developed after teambuilding). Before that, however, I must admit - I have fallen in love with absolutely every single waitress, every salesgirl, every secretary or bartender I’ve ever met, with every girl sitting across from me on the subway, with every girl near me in line at the supermarket, with the sisters of all my classmates, even with my own cousins... One glance and I’m all in. It’s worked out for me lots of times, of course, but in general only for one night, or for a month at most. I am convinced, however, that this time will be different (it already is!) - and that’s exactly why I need to quit.
Our time is running out, Radost. The time in which you will be the most beautiful girl in the world very soon will pass and we will never be able to take advantage of it again. (“Never" is the surest form of eternity, I trust you know that, too.)
You think everything happened at team building, when we hid together during paintball so we wouldn’t get hit and for yourself, you’re surely right. But only for yourself - as I already said above, I only need a split-second and I’m good to go. It was several weeks earlier, the HR woman had taken me around to meet the team before I started. While waiting for her to introduce me, I was looking around and I saw you - you were talking with some customer. It was nothing out of the ordinary - he just wanted to pay his bill, while you were trying to foist our latest roaming plan on him. The problem was your smile. Ostensibly sincere, exactly what you would expect from a clerk behind the Mtel desk, but the first wrinkles gave you away. Exhaustion from the routine. The fear that nothing better could happen while you offer roaming plans to someone else. The nervous swig of soda under your desk. Perhaps I was imagining things then, but now I know for sure this is the case. (I remember very well what you told me about the sidewalks in Sofia, don’t you recall - that there’s no way you could mistake the pavement here. We all walk with our heads bowed. You know every cracked paving stone, every unfinished sidewalk, every hole, every pried-open shaft, every bent post...)
And then it hit me - it’s not only your time that’s running out, Radost. The time of all the beauty in the world is running out, too. Along with the deadline for our latest deal. With water from the glaciers in Switzerland. With me and you.
This sounds kind of out there to you, doesn’t it?
I’ll put it this way, then: there’s a guy in Bermuda I want you to see. Every morning Monday through Friday he stands inside the big roundabout in Hamilton, where all the traffic on the island circles through, and he waves at everyone who passes by in their car. That’s it - he simply waves at them to wish them a great day and to tell them that he loves them. Every day since 1986. Johnny Barnes, Mr. Happy Man - that’s what everyone calls him. But the guy is already 91, how much longer do you think we have? I’m talking about us, not about him.
Have you heard of the Sentinelese - the last people who have resisted contact with civilization? Two-hundred and fifty bona fide savages, left on their eight-by-nine kilometer island in the middle of the Andaman Archipelago. The diamonds of the Bay of Bengal. No one else knows their language, no one can ask them what they think about the world around them, what they believe in, what they find beautiful... How long will it be before someone ruins everything? (Not that they haven’t tried, but as of now all attempts have ended with an arrow to the throat.) I want us to shoot fireworks over the Sentinel island some evening, or to drop them some delicious food by parachute, maybe even two or three cases of soda, to find some ultra-powerful projector and to beam National Geographic from our boat and while we’re sitting there watching them, to be gods, at least for a little while. (I’ve never denied being egotistical. After all, the center of the universe lies beside me sometimes:)
It’s no coincidence that I’m talking so much about islands - Robinson would never have thought about coming back if he’d been with you. You’ve heard of the Maldives, but I bet you never heard of the Chagos Archipelago, 300 miles south. We’ve got to go there, to the Diego Garcia atoll - a ring of uninhabitable land amidst the richest marine trenches in the world. Now that’s what I call a private island, got it? What’s more - you’re still following me, right? - if Antarctica loses just a little more of its cap, Diego Garcia will be sunk. It might even happen while we’re there.
But it’s not all about islands, we’ve definitely got to see the Amazon before it is history. Go to Google Earth any old place above the interior of Brazil and zoom in. And you say I’m going bald! I bet I’ll still have some hair when everything there is totally bare. And did you know that in Israel they still have some of those two fish that Christ used to feed the multitudes? Can you imagine what it would be like to try it? St. Peter’s fish, that’s what they call it. It lives only in the Sea of Galilee, but for the past five years some virus has been eating away at its eyes and nobody knows how to stop it before the fish disappear for good. (Or before they are fished to extinction to supply the restaurants along the coast, where we, too, will go, it’s all the same.)
We definitely need to make it to Suni and Najin as well, the only rhinoceroses who can continue their subspecies. (For some reason, the Tchainese consider their horns some ultra-aphrodisiac and paid mad cash for them in the Congo until 2006 when they rubbed their crotches with the last possible northern white rhinoceros horn left in nature.) At the moment, there are exactly seven animals left in zoos, but only two of them are able to get the job done - Suni and Najin. They kept them in Europe until 2009, but then they figured out that only the savannah could snap them out of their apathy. They transferred them to a small, fenced-in pasture in Kenya and since then their every attempt at screwing has been instantly posted on youtube and has made the news. So far without any results, alas. I want us to have sex there - why shouldn’t you conceive before the eyes of northern white rhinoceroses whose horns have long since been cut off so they won’t tempt the Tchainese?
Why am I offering all this to you of all people? Because I don’t like Hope, either, Sofia suffocates me as much as it does you... Ever since you told me that thing about the sidewalks, when I look down I get totally furious. This shouldn’t be our life. We can’t offer roaming plans to other people, while above my apartment block the sky is always gray, even when it’s sunny out.
Know what, this is the stupidest part - with the money from the apartment, I could leave right now. Despite the patchwork insulation, the stray dogs and the heaps of trash by the entryway, I could still get 100K for it. And with all that money we could go everywhere, Radost. And we’d still have some left over. Now that they’ve made you an office manager, you could easily take out a loan for that much as well. They would never turn you down. And afterwards - good luck to anyone trying to find us in Diego Garcia. Don’t you see, exactly what ties us down here - the apartment, the job, etc. - is exactly what could free us from this city. How many more roaming plans are you going to push before ever using one yourself?
So that’s why I’ve decided. I’m quitting. I’ll kiss you, hand you this resignation and be waiting for you to come along. Before our time has run out.
Date: [empty] Signature: [missing]
It was no accident that the date and signature were missing. He had written the letter of resignation in less than an hour, but the next morning he read it over again and the words seemed completely out of place, especially all those parentheticals he had left. It seemed like instead of saying what he really thought, he had simply pounded out some 9th grade homework essay; like it would just make him look naïve, and worse yet, foolish... He told himself he would first tweak the text and only then would he submit it and he really did open up the file to fiddle around with it a few times. The moment passed, and in any case he couldn’t make up his mind - the right opportunity just never came up (as he himself had written in the letter). In the meantime, things between them were going great and after work they went home together to the patchwork apartment block more and more often. One day they bought new toothbrushes at the supermarket and she left hers at his place. The next week, she brought over a towel as well, and a month later he cleared out half of the wardrobe for her. In the interim, Radost managed to get him transferred to a different office, so he wouldn’t feel awkward about screwing his boss.
The super roaming deal had long since ended. The next promotion was for a home Internet and cable TV package. They took advantage of it as well.
P.S. When, a year after the teambuilding seminar, he realized that he didn’t have any cool present for their anniversary, he suddenly remembered the file, printed it out at the office, stapled the pages together and ever-so-solemnly gave it to her that evening.
The first time they read his letter, they laughed. They were still young.
© Allexander Shpatov