Six years ago, she confessed to three things in the following order:
Very few people saw the confession—ten bloggers total—and, to make matters worse or, maybe, better, no one who had seen it asked her about it. So, ten years later, she tried again.
This time, she wrote the confessions on a postcard series that featured facts about famous female scientists. For recipients, she used a mailing list she had from helping to get out the vote in 2020. All members of the excel sheet lived in Georgia.
She addressed one postcard to someone named Carrie Lake, and it said, During the midnight hours of a February freeze, we drank Woodford Reserve and didn’t talk about the ring he wore.
On another—more cryptic—she wrote, once upon a time there was a barrier that separated me now from me then from him now from him then from you now from you then.
On yet another, she penned, I’ll watch it sink down so deep it hits the river floor.
She had romantic ideas that in this small blue southern town, these recipients would meet at the local grocer and piece her words together like a bargain bin puzzle. These strangers would manage one full confession, but never all three because at least one person on the mailing list had to be dead. Pure statistics and time.
Even better, someone would visit someone else’s porch and, after swatting a firefly, mention the anonymous postcard they’d gotten with a stamp from Maine – those strange northeasterners, those Maineiacs.
They’d laugh before getting down to business.
“What’d it look like?”The host would ask. The visitor would produce the postcard from their pocket – this one had Katia Krafft, the volcanist, on it.
It would read, The box. The keys. The words.
The host would reveal they too had received one, theirs with Sau Lan Wu, the particle physicist, on the front. They’d get up off their sore ass and fetch the card, and the pair would push their notes together.
This second note said, she was always full to bursting, full when her knees bruised the insides of her legs, full even when she wasn’t.
The woman with three things to confess wondered if the visitor or the host would think someone had been left at the bottom of a river and call the cops. Or if they’d try to pass the cards off as love notes they’d written themselves. When taken out of context, some even sounded romantic like this one: she was a part of a community that sat together and ate French fries on a park bench without speaking.
When given the chance, the words were independent bitches. They could be about the way her stomach cramped from not eating, but could also be about how, if and when someone was screwing the mailman, it would eventually show up on Twenty-Three and Me.
Maybe, when the world went to hell in a handbasket, someone would pass one of these postcards down to the generation that inherited nothing but that aforementioned handbasket and say, “People used to write letters and I got this one once. Never found out who sent it, but I think it was Sharlene, and I think she was sleeping with my husband.”
As she sent the final postcard, she realized that what they really needed to know was that Sau Lan Wu had once said she’d grown up with the goal of being financially independent of men.
She panicked. That was the only thing she’d meant to say all along.
SALENA CASHA — Salena’s work has appeared in over 100 publications in the last decade. Her most recent work can be found in Ghost Parachute, Retreat West, Block Party, and Variety Pack. She survives New England winters on good beer and black coffee. Subscribe to her substack at https://salenacasha.substack.com/
Art by SUSAN SOLOMON — Susan is a freelance paintress living in the beautiful Twin Cities area of Minneapolis/Saint Paul.