By Willem Myra
I hired a team of scientists—the best one-hundred grand could get you in those days—and had them fabricate a hurricane I named after you. The scientists promised me it would kill at least three-hundred people and wreck four times as many homes, and when you said, “That’s all?” it broke my heart because that was my present for you. On the day we celebrated two years since the day we first met—which was, ironically, also the day we got married—we sat on the couch in the living room, refreshing the newspaper website waiting for the casualties count to get updated. I was struggling to keep anxiety under control, while you, hands in your lap and those cold eyes of yours, you, still fresh like a daisy after the night we had just spent together, you were ready to measure my love for you by the amount of holes the hurricane was tearing up in families and landscape alike. Fortunately, it did well, so you printed me a cake. It was tiny, sponge-y, with no icing or fruit bits. Just how I liked it.
“I want you with my entire being,” I remember telling you that afternoon. You kissed my lips and neck, and chewed at the earring you had gifted me three months prior, for my birthday. “Next year,” you said, “I want a tsunami.” I told you tsunamis didn’t come with names, so nobody would’ve known it was my present for you, to which you replied, “I would know, that’s what matters.” “Fair enough,” I said. “I’ll try and see what I can do about it.”
Later that night, as we were lying in bed, not naked, no, but fully clothed, oh, so fully clothed—we were each wearing at least seven pairs of pants and twice as many shirts and blouses and hoodies, for you believed love grew stronger if the lovers’ hearts were far from each other, yet at the same time very close—and as we were lying there, like tortoises fallen on their backs and unable to get up, you said, “It’s going to be tricky, but I reckon you could do it.” “What’s that?” I asked. And you said, “The tsunami next year—I want it to destroy my hometown.” I nodded and whispered you goodnight, but I couldn’t close a single eye and dawn found me contemplating the same issue over and over again: how to have a tsunami reach the village that gave birth to you, up in the coldest and driest mountains this planet had ever seen.
You were a cruel woman. That’s why I loved you.
We first met in church. You were there to get married to some guy named Jon or Joan or Joah, and I was one of the guests—my late husband had been friends with your fiance’s family and he had accepted the invitation to the wedding months before he passed away. I had legitimate reasons not to attend what was to be, allegedly, the happiest day of your life, but I was a bored widow, so I decided, What the Hell, I’m going to have some fun. And I’m glad I did.
That day, when the time came for the minister to ask the long-awaited do-you question, and he got your name wrong—an L instead of an R; an understandable mistake, if you ask me—you immediately glanced at your fiance. But he didn’t say a word for he hadn’t heard the minister or was too polite to correct him or just didn’t care. So you punched the minister in the face, shoved his gold cross up his right eye, and showed Jon or Joan or Joah the middle finger, leaving the church.
I was intrigued.
I got up from my seat, pretending to be shocked by what had just happened, and ran after you. We met outside. Your face was sweaty and your make-up was coming off. You eyed me like you were ready to skin me alive, so I smiled my biggest smile and said, “Easy, easy, tiger. I come in peace.” Jokingly I offered to go back and beat the shit out of your not-any-longer fiance.” How would you do that?” you asked. “Well,” I said, picking my words carefully. “I’d hit him from behind with the palm of my hand, flat on the right ear. He’d turn around, crying for pain, so I’d punch him in the gut, have his nose meet my knee once he’s bent over, and then use my elbow against his back to push him to the ground.” “I like it,” you said. “What’s your name?” I told you and then you sighed. It wasn’t the best of names, you said; it wasn’t the worst either. “Say, would you like to marry me?” you asked. “It’d be a shame to ruin such a ceremony. Besides, we have a top-notch restaurant with holos and everything rented for the whole night.”
They said it couldn’t be done. A tsunami at that altitude? No way. Not even with HARPA’s best tech—which, the scientists liked to remind me every time, I could not afford for the life of me.
I looked for alternatives.
During World War II they tried to make this tsunami bomb. It would have worked like a skipping stone. Dropped by an airplane on the water surface, it’d have bounced and bounced and bounced, slowing losing momentum, until it sunk right before hitting the target. Instead, it’d have hit the seabed, destabilizing the tectonic plates. An earthquake would have ensued, followed by a tsunami.
I thought about doing the same to that village of yours. There were no lakes or dams nearby, but I could’ve been creative about it. Have them—the monkeys with PhDs on my payroll—cloud seed the area. Where the mountains looked like a big sketchy double A, your village was located at the bottom of the depression between the two letters. Like this:
I could’ve made it rain so much a lake would’ve emerged where your village was, and then have a tsunami bomb be detonated right there and then.
I could’ve done all of that, and I would have had. But then they came. The guns were the first thing I saw. The cuffs the last.
The monkeys with PhDs accused me of blackmailing them into messing with both global and local climate. The FBI didn’t buy it. They locked us all up.
The trial followed a couple months after. There was no need for me to pay for a lawyer—there were no good lawyers to be found for a case like mine.
Twenty-two years and six months was the verdict. I didn’t appeal.
I wasn’t scared of the prison time. I wasn’t angered because of all the compensations I was sentenced to pay to those who had lost beloved ones and/or properties during the hurricane. I wasn’t worried that I was broke, that I had no money left from my late husband’s bank account anymore. Instead, I was saddened to see you sat there, in the back of the courtroom, with your black clothes and your red eyes and your running nose.
I told you I would be alright as they dragged me away in cuffs.
I told you I loved you.
I told you I’d see you soon.
I even smiled.
You killed yourself the day after.
Perhaps you weren’t that cruel of a woman.
Perhaps you were crueler than I thought. Why else hurt me like this?
It’s been eight months since I’ve been here. It’s July. The day is the third. Ten days from now we would have celebrated three years of marriage.
I’m sitting in my cell, writing this letter. I’m been a model prisoner. I’ve read and wrote and worked hard, I’ve taught business classes and climate change classes and literary classes to the other inmates. I was beaten on by the other girls, by the guards, by the director. I was left to die for two weeks with no food. And I’ve never said a word. Don’t bitch about anything, that’s the motto of this prison. Of any prison.
I’ve done all this to earn a small, harmless favor.
Tomorrow, a guard will take this letter to your grave. Inside the envelope there will also be a tiny creation of mine. An origami. It’s that of a small town—I don’t know if it’s so obvious, I’m still learning the Japanese art of folding paper.
If you’re still alive and you faked your death—as I hope you did, I hope you did—and if you read this letter, please, help me keep faith to my promise. Please, take out the origami and throw a glass of water at it and picture, please, my dear, if you’re still alive and you still love me as I love you, please picture your village being hit by a tsunami. And, please, don’t ever erase the time spent together from your memories.
Willem Myra, 24, lives on a satellite of a city gravitating around Rome, Italy. He's only recently started writing in English but he's getting there one word at a time. When he's not procrastinating, he tries his best to earn that BA in media studies.