Flash Fiction Writing Contest XLVI, First Place (2018)
NEW MILLENNIUM AWARD FOR FLASH FICTION
Eleanor Bluestein of La Jolla, California for “How To Write a Love Letter”
Bluestein will receive $1,000, a certificate to mark the success, and publication both online and in print.
How To Write a Love Letter
By Eleanor Bluestein
• • • •
Obtain a box of stationery. Stationery is an actual object; it is different from a digital replica of fancy paper or a digital greeting card. You recognize fine stationery by its subtle watermark. Consult Google Images if you don’t know what a watermark is. Whatever you do, don’t buy blue or pink; buy white or ecru, or if you must, the very palest shade of green or lavender. Buy the entire box, or if sold as single sheets, buy at least twenty-five. Quantity matters.
Buy a pen. A pen is different from a stylus. You will use the point of the pen to write on the stationery. When you press down, the pen will leave a dark ink mark on the paper. Acceptable ink colors are dark blue, black, or deep brown. Keep in mind that brown may have unpleasant connotations, but that’s up to you.
Place the sheet of stationery on a flat surface. You cannot hold stationery in the palm of your hand while you form the letters of the alphabet. Note: You are not tapping out letters; you are using the point of the pen to draw the circles and posts that build them. Do not expect the letters to appear without your hand creating each one. Forget about autocomplete. You are responsible for entire words.
To help you understand the instructions through examples, we will use the “Jane Doe” of the current zeitgeist—the most popular girl’s name of the last generation—as the sample love letter’s recipient. The name that tops the list is Melania.
To begin your letter, you could try one of the following combinations of words or something similar. Dear Melania; My Dear Melania; Dearest Melania; My Beloved Melania. Please note: If the recipient of your letter is not named Melania, substitute the name of the person you are writing to.
It is customary when writing a love letter to write a line or two, then crumple the paper and throw it on the floor and begin again. Keep a waste basket handy beside you. Miss the basket at least half the time so that rough spheres of crumpled stationery land in the basket’s vicinity but not inside it. To produce an authentic love letter, you must fling away at least twenty false starts. This is the reason you were instructed to buy an entire box or twenty-five sheets. After you crumple and discard your efforts a few times, pace around the room before you begin again. Once or twice at a minimum, toss a crumpled missile against a wall or window to demonstrate frustration with your inability to uncover the perfect expression of your affection. Other gestures of irritation are also advantageous. For example: My Dear Melania. Crumple. Drop on floor. Dearest Melania. Crumple. Throw into waste basket. My Beloved Melania. Crumple. Kick the cat. Most beloved Melania. Put fist through wall.
Write whole words, not acronyms. You will not, for example, write DILLIGAS when you want to say: Do I look like I give a shit. Although you probably will not use that acronym in a love letter, it makes the point.
Think in terms of four or more complete sentences. If the muscles in your hand start to ache from the unfamiliar activity, take a break. Ice your hand or spread and close the fingers of your writing hand like a fan. Repeat eight times. Then back to work.
Do not use emojis. No skulls, cats with heart eyes, or guns. You are not writing a picture book. Use your words.
Here are some useful words to insert in your sentences: Cherish; worship; adore; money; power; beauty; greatest; best; immigrant; combover; I; me; you; mine; prenuptial, pussy.
Do not begin the first sentence with: “I am writing to tell you…” That is so LOL. You are better than that. Simply launch into the sentiments you wish to convey. For example: “I am the greatest and you are Miss Universe.” That’s a promising beginning. Still, crumple, toss, and start again. “I have wealth, power, and a combover to offer you.” Crumple, toss, start again. “I can’t wait to grope your pussy.” Crumple, toss, bang forehead on desk.
Keep at it until you have formulated a straightforward, strong, and confident message. Here is an example:
I am the greatest. You are a beauty. I have a combover. You have a pussy. I will have my lawyers deliver the prenup. You will sign. I have wealth and power and you are an immigrant. You will worship me.
Note: If you do not possess wealth, power and a combover, assess your strengths and cite those instead of the ones in the sample letter. For example:
I am a barista. You like soy lattes. I have an electric scooter. You have a pussy.
To conclude your letter, write the following:
Don’t write “your name,” write your name. (Please do not use the comments box to ask what that means. If you can’t figure it out, unsubscribe.)
Lastly, fold the letter and insert it into an envelope. Now you are on familiar ground. Place the envelope in the drone and tap your beloved’s locale code in the address box.
It has been my pleasure to instruct you. Next week’s instruction will be: How to walk a real dog. Sneak preview: As the name of our example dog, we will use the most popular AI-dog’s name for the previous two decades: Mueller.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eleanor Bluestein lives in Southern California. She is the author of Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales, a collection of linked stories inspired by travels in Southeast Asia. She is completing a novel (Slumming) and a short story collection (Louder than Words).
“How To Write a Love Letter” © 2018 Eleanor Bluestein