A Letter to My Readers. Fiction by Connie Woodring

Constance Woodring

A Letter to My Readers

I am a writer of short stories, novels, and poetry. No thanks to my husband, Frank, who hates the fact that I write. He made me quit college to marry him so I would never land my dream job of art critic at the New York Times. He put me in this mental asylum after I repeatedly tried to kill him with my grandmother’s silver cake knife that was always commanding, “Kill him now. Forget what I said yesterday.” I had every right to try to kill him for being abusive and for having an affair with Fern, his boss’ wife.

I have been writing a novel, Visiting Hours, ever since I got here 15 years ago. Frank is getting tired of me sending him notes on the book which I do because he only visits on holidays and special occasions like when he bought a new turquoise Studebaker. This is his most recent response to my note I sent last week:

Dear Mary, I want you to put this letter in the “book” you are “writing.” If I find out that you haven’t done so, I will bring you home for a home visit and throttle you, no kidding.

First of all, I want to say to all of Mary’s readers that I feel sorry for you as much as I feel sorry for myself. That’s because she made me read all her poems over the last too many years. Anyone who has ever read them says that they are nonsense, no one can understand them (especially me) and that she should write about everyday subjects like our house, the snap dragons in the garden or cooking sauerkraut and pork. Since Mary is a nutcase, however, she writes about her face, glass jars, and Adam and Eve. I’ve never told her how bad her poems are because I don’t want to hurt her feelings.

Since she can’t write poetry, she surely can’t write a book. Everything she says will be against me and everyone else. She only sees the world through her eyes.  If she ever gets the book completed, which I doubt, it will lack any plot, sense or truth. That’s because sometimes she acts crazy, and other times she is very level-headed even if she doesn’t have a mind! I just hope you don’t bother to spend your heard-earned dollars on it, but if you do, at least you’ll get a chance to hear the truth from me.

The truth is Mary is the one who had the “affair,” not me. She loves my brother, Meyer, who is a real square. He talks about the same things Mary talks about like the “meaning of moonlight.” I could never stand him. He was always putting worms on my fishing pole in a secret way so I could never catch fish. He always told me, “Frank, you’re going to grow up to be just as mean as Dad.” Meyer never hit anyone and was proud of it. Even when he got knocked down our front steps by Henry Schmeller and landed on his head. I think that’s why he’s been so square ever since. He has a head problem just like Mary. Misery loves company.

I can’t say for sure Mary has cheated on me, but she thinks about my brother all the time. Probably she’ll write more about him than about me. I’m the husband, and you’d think I’d get more attention, but not from her.

I put Mary in the hospital because she was always hurting me. Slapping, pushing, stabbing, yelling, accusing, keeping me from my friends and not wanting me to work late hours. All my friends feel so sorry for me. She sure liked the money I earned, like all dames who sponge off men. I worked hard to give her every greedy thing she wanted. She only cares about things— radio, washing machine, car, dog. She never cared about me.

Mary probably also told you I beat her. She just wants sympathy from you. It’s a lie, and I can prove it. She’s called the police on me. You can ask them. They always said,” She’s crazy,” and left. All the police feel sorry for me. I wish I wasn’t such a nice guy to have taken all her abuse all these years. I’ve felt sorry for her ever since her parents were killed in some mysterious car accident when she was in high school. (Don’t ever tell Mary this, but I always wondered if she put cornstarch in the gas tank, and that caused the accident.) Her Aunt Clara and Uncle Ben took her in, but they made her slave in their hot bakery making strudel dough that tasted like dead Wheaties if you ask me. I’m the only family she has. No sisters or brothers. 

She has no friends because no one can stand to be around her for more than an hour.

The only truth part about her book, if she told you, is about my father. He was a mean, selfish, cruel man who made my, but not my brother’s, life miserable. Whatever I’ve done wrong in life, it’s because of my father. He was so mean to my dear mother she died of a broken heart. She also died of an unknown disease, but I think it’s called epitonia. He hated Mary and always told me not to the marry her. He wanted me to marry Irene Henrey, but she had teeth that were too far apart in the front. The only reason it took me so long to lock Mary up in the nuthouse was because that was want my father wanted. I never wanted to do anything he told me to do.

I never had an affair with Fern or anyone else. That’s because, unlike Mary, I believe in the sanctity of marriage, being a good neighbor and friend, being a good American, trusting in the Lord and honoring your parents even if they aren’t straight shooters, except for my father, as I explained to you.

Here’s a note to any publisher of Mary’s book: Don’t bother. You’re just wasting your time with her just like I have all these years. She can’t even finish a sentence, much less a book. She’s a rattlebrain which she says she got from her grandmother who was also a patient at the nuthouse. She has so many excuses: “I can’t finish college. I want get married like everyone else.” or “I can’t iron your blue shirt, because I’m writing a poem about a 12th century musical instrument.”

No one should try to help Mary and that includes powwow doctors, attendants, ministers, publishers and, especially, me. All I can say is she’s a hopeless case. I’m just glad I got the opportunity to say my side of the story. Yours truly and forever, Frank.

_____

Connie Woodring is a 76-year-old retired therapist who is getting back to her true love of writing after 45 years in her real job. She has had many poems published in over 30 journals including one nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize. Seven excerpts from her yet-to-be-published novel Visiting Hours have been published in various journals.

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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie is now completing her first novel where, for a family with a Seventh-day Adventist father and a Mennonite mother, the End Times are just around the corner. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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