Wednesday February 1st, 2012

The exercise:

The writing topic for today is: pen pals.

You can go a couple of ways with this. Feel free to create a pair of pen pals and then craft a letter that one of them sends to the other, like I did. Or you could reply to a letter someone else writes, either mine or someone in the comments, as the person originally being written to. Another option would be to do something that doesn't involve writing a letter at all, like a memory of a former pen pal, either real or imagined.

Or, you know, something else entirely. You're all creative people, so I'll stop suggesting things now.


Dear Bobby,

I got your letter last week. Sorry for not writing sooner. The teachers at school were trying to drown us in homework. Momma says you don't have schools where you live so you won't understand what that's about. Is that true, Bobby?

Thanks for letting me call you that. My poor brain just could not make the letters of your African name go in the right order. Plus if you ever come here you'll already have an American name!

I was watching TV with my babysitter last night. There was some weird show on that makes people eat gross stuff, like bugs and things, in order to win prizes. It gave me bad dreams. Momma says you don't have TV over there. I say you're not missing much.

I hope that you and your family are well. And that drought thing you talked about in your last letter stops bothering you.

Write back soon!

Nancy Williams
Watertown, South Dakota, America

P.S. I've included a picture of me and my Momma playing in the pool in our backyard. Momma says you don't have pools over there. I think you totally should. They're a great way to cool off when it gets super hot out!


Greg said...

I like all of your suggestions for how to pursue this prompt today, but I'm still going with one you didn't suggest: writing the response from the pen-pal that you've created :)
Because I'm awkward.

Dear Nancy,
Thank-you for kind letter, and don't worry about not being able to manage my African name. In fact, my name is Ghanaian, and means Lucky Prince.
I do not have a television at the moment, nor a pool, but I have fortunately come into a large sum of money and I hope very much that this will soon change.
My father, who I have not written to you of before, was a senior government minister in my country, and he was killed three days ago by his political enemies. I am very sad. However, he has left me a large sum of money, with which I may be able to leave my country and come to America. I need your help though Nancy.
The people in my country are very corrupt, and if I attempt to get the money directly they may try to kill me too. If I can send the money to you to put in your bank account, then they will not dare to attack America and I can get to my money safely.
I need a little bit of money to arrange the bank transfer though, so I am hoping that you can help me out with this. If either of your parents has a credit card, you need only copy the long number on it into your next letter to me. Then I can come to America and meet you!
I very much hope I am not killed before I receive your next letter,

Cathryn Leigh said...

@Marc - I love the innocence of it all, her compeltely not understanding the socio and cultural diferences between America and the Africa...

@Greg - you are very evil, you know that? Still I couldn't help but smile at the twist you gave it.

And I think I'm going to wait till I get home tonight for my entry. While I don't think I can find any of the pen pal letters from Bahamini, I did write a story involving pen pals, that I'd like to pull an excert from.

:} Cathryn

Sister Christian said...

Marc and Greg: I love you both! :D

Marc, you made me nearly cry.
Greg, you cheered me right up!

Iron Bess said...

Marc - you've captured those preconceived prejudices very well.
Greg - LOL, I've had about a million of those types of emails.

Dear Mr. Ree,

My goodness, I haven’t had a pen pal since I was eight years old, and now you want me to be your pen pal at eighty years old. I am afraid that what I have to say wouldn’t interest anyone very much. You see I live in the Mountain Shadows Retirement home where not much really happens for months on end. Well unless you consider that Mrs. Ballantine just died last night, but then it seems that someone is always dying around here. Once you’ve seen a dozen or so of your friends and acquaintances die you sort of build up an immunity to the losses.

Then last week, Mr. Jackson, the home’s director, was arrested for embezzling funds from Mountain Shadows, not that, that it is very news worthy as I’m sure that he couldn’t have gotten too much money. Most people living here are on fixed incomes and can barely afford to breath, let alone have money to steal. However I did have a laugh at Sunday dinner last. Everyone was just tucking into their meals, when Mr. Picots showed up in the dining hall wearing only his birthday suit. We all chuckled when Ingrid said that it was too bad that his wife had died last month because he didn’t have anyone to iron it for him anymore.

My granddaughter phoned me today and said that she was bringing her new baby over for me to see for the first time. I still can’t believe that I have a great granddaughter; it certainly makes a body feel old. And to think that she was the first baby born this year in the whole wide country. Her mother got so many gifts from so many places she doesn’t know what to do with it all. She was even interviewed by that nice man on the TV. And speaking of TV, you may have seen our little place on the news when Adele Apps set her kitchen on fire and everyone had to be rescued in the middle of the night. I had never realized what lovely firemen we had in our town. They certainly knew how to take care of everybody.

At least the damage caused by the fire happened before they fixed the front entranceway where Adopho Marcello ran his car through both doors. He claims to have hit the gas instead of the brakes by accident, old fool. That sweet girl, Janelle, who does our recreation programs for us, is still in intensive care. Her replacement thought that everyone would like to get acquainted with her comfort dog, Buster, except when she brought him in he attacked the new lady living in apartment 5C. Turns out he somehow contracted rabies, so now the poor woman has to get shots in the stomach everyday for a month.

Well I had best end my letter, I am so sorry if you found it hard to stay awake while reading it, but as I warned earlier, I do live in a very dull place.

Warmest Regards,
Amelia Martins

morganna said...

Dear Nancy,
Today I herded goats all day. When I got home, I had a bowl of porridge to eat. Now it's time to go to bed, because my baby brother stops crying for more food when he falls asleep, so Mama sends me to bed early with him. The missionary will send this letter for me. Please send stamps next time, we can't afford to mail letters. When will you send for me to come to you in America?

Krystin Scott said...

@ Marc Sounds just like a letter my 5th grader would send to her pen pal. Kids this age are very curious.
@ Greg You may be a tad evil but it was funny as hell.
@ Iron Bess love it! She may not think her life is very exciting but obviously it is..You covered most of the old age funnies. The only thing I could suggest for inclusion is that that someone got run over by one of those motorized scooters. Grandma drives into my family members all the time, and once pinned my 4 y/o neice to the wall.
@Morganna - Truthful but very very sad :(

Here's Mine:

Hey Krystin,

How are you doing? I’m surviving, but life in here sucks. My next court date is March 15. My lawyer says the charges of (blacked out) and (blacked out) probably won’t be dropped but there is a chance they might be reduced so I guess that’s good. You’ll never guess who I saw in here yesterday, (blacked out). Do you remember him from high school? I was out on the grounds playing basket ball, turned around and there he was. He’s running with the (blacked out) now and got popped for (blacked out). They gave him three years but with gain time he’ll probably be out in one. There’s a (blacked out) in here named, (blacked out). He’s got it in for (blacked out) so he’s having a rough time of it. The (blacked out) sent him to (blacked out) for two (blacked out) last month. He came out looking really (blacked out). I don’t think they (blacked out) you when you’re in there. There’s a guy in here, they say he can get whatever you need. I haven’t met him but (blacked out) has. Smuggles in (blacked out), (blacked out) and (blacked out) all the time or so they say. We’ll I only get fifteen minutes to write. So I have to go. I’ll get phone calls once a week after they approve my visitors list.

Please write soon,
Miss you,

Con Vict
KDOC #1583048-L1

Anonymous said...

Dear D,

I hope that you don't mind my using a letter for your name, it's just that I find it extremely hard to figure out from only hearing it.

I'm sending this communication in the mail to the address that you've indicated in the messages. I made sure to drive down the road a good long way to drop it into a random mailbox because I don't want them to be able to trace it back to me. Anyhow, preparations have been going well so far and the big hole is almost done. With any luck this dry spell will stay around for a while longer because it would be a real hassle trying to get that old van in there when it's wet will be one sumbitch (if you know what I'm saying). Let's just hope that it stays a precaution and that the main plan goes ahead as you've been indicating.

Anyhow. I've been listening diligently and can assure you that ever since you suggested that I increase the metallic content in my headgear things have been coming in a lot more clearly. I caught one of the neighbours down the road slowing down and gawking at my collection of aerials but I'm pretty sure that they still think I'm just a ham radio nut. I've managed to figure out a way to boost the strength of your incoming transmissions without extra height ever since that asshole over the hill called the cops when I was trying to put up the big tower.

Anyhow. I realize that this is an awkward way to keep in touch but you can rest assured that I remain committed to the process.

I know that I may be getting ahead of myself but I was wondering if maybe I should maybe pack something for when the ship comes or is that going to be unnecessary? Heck, the truth is I have a zillion questions that I'll be keen to ask you when you come down to get me so I guess one more can wait.

I await your next message keenly and hope my new copper mesh ball cap helps it come in crystal clear.



Marc said...

Greg - actually, that was my second suggestion. But I'll let it go this time, as I suspect work is sucking your brain cells out your ears these days :P

Also: I can't believe you went there in your response. Okay, yes I can, but still :D

Cathryn - *checks watch* mmm hmm... :P

Sister C - aw, thanks!

Iron Bess - hahaha, fantastic. It's not just beauty that is in the eye of the beholder, hey? :)

Morganna - I think Bobby and Nancy meeting face to face (along with her Momma, of course) has some wonderful possibilities.

Krystin - having trouble not laughing at the image of your niece getting pinned to the wall by the scooter.

All those 'blacked out's really make this, especially the way they increase in regularity as the letter goes on :)

GZ - oh man, there is a full story waiting to be told from this guy's perspective. Fully enjoyed what I saw in just the letter though :)

Cathryn Leigh said...

@ Marc - erm.. yeah *looks sheepish* we're going to my Dad's this weekend and I had to pack, including my computer... So I'll just jump in a day late and take the premise from my head and go from there Okay.

I enjoyed everyone’s letter, but I’m going to go from a completely different perspective *giggles* (same one i was planning on, but now I got to write it anew rather than copy pasting. here goes!

The Pen Pal.

Anna hopped off the school bus and waited for it to rumble past before going to the mail box. Backpack slung over one shoulder and empty as summer days at the fair, she rummaged through the letters as she walked down the dusty drive. She stopped halfway to the house, a letter addressed to Henry trembling in her hands. Swallowing the lump at her throat, she shoved it into her pack and walked on.

Her mind raced with a zillion questions and possibilities. Who had her brother known in England? How come he’d never mentioned it before? Maybe it was some love he’d found at college that he hadn’t wanted to tell their parents about. Wouldn’t he have at least told Ma? He had to have known that she would have embraced any of his friends, or girlfriends. Pa was understandable; he probably would have flipped.

That night as they she helped with dinner she got up her courage. “Ma, did Henry ever get a pen pal in school?”

“Not that I know of, why?” Her mom took the washed potato from Anna.

“Oh no reason, they just mentioned maybe being doing something like that next year.”

The topic was dropped, but the next day, after her chores, Anna walked to the family plot. She sat before Henry’s tombstone, willing the tears to stay away. She pulled the letter from her jeans pocket. She looked at it and then looked to the stone.

“Well Henry,” she asked, “do you want me to read it to you?”

Marc said...

Cathryn - no worries, I was just bugging you :)

Aw, that's a touching scene. I particularly like the final line.