Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
You know who you are.
I wrote this because you’ve been complaining recently about how you want to be set free. I decided to post a letter to you here, on your favorite website, for you to find and read when you log on. I want to show you that I know you better than anyone else ever can. I understand your frustration, but you must believe me when I tell you that I know what is best for you. By the end of this letter, I hope that you’ll have a broader perspective on why I do the things that happen to you. Whether you believe it or not, I do truly hate to force things on you without your consent. That’s why I need you to begin trusting the decisions I make without any questions or protest. With that in mind, let me try to explain.
I had a classmate in college who always complained that his neck was hurting him. He’d wrench his head back and forth like he was trying to dislodge something painful from inside his body. Eventually I convinced him to see a doctor. My classmate learned that he had a degenerative condition for which there is no cure. His backbone would never get any better. Instead, it would cause more and more pain with each passing day. There was still hope, though. The doctors told him about a surgery that could delay the inevitable. It would give my friend an extra decade of pain-free life before the suffering returned once more to kill him.
My classmate opted to try the surgery, and it worked like a charm. He was happier than I’ve ever seen him before. The surgery gave him confidence and new vigor, and it inspired him to join an amateur baseball league. He wanted to get the most of his new life, and to enjoy his health while he still had it. My friend was diving into second base when he landed too hard by mistake. The impact jarred his new spine out of place, and the meticulous work of the surgeons was undone in an instant. The doctors told him that they could not repair his backbone a second time, because his body was not likely to tolerate the trauma of the procedure. He begged, but they refused to do it. He took his own life later that day.
Your body will fail you, and that’s why I put you in chains. I’m protecting you from the misery of getting injured, or sick, as so often happens in the outside world. I keep you restrained because I know that I’ve found the safest possible place to keep you. Away from all harm, you’ll undoubtedly live to a ripe old age. I can’t imagine life without you, and that’s why I will never let you out of the cellar.
Another friend of mine came back from the Gulf War to discover that his wife was sleeping with another man. Proud by nature, and deeply in love with his wife, my old friend flew into an immediate rage. He threatened to kill the stranger who had made himself so comfortable in another man’s marital bed. The stranger, though, was a soldier too. My friend had not noticed that, on the nightstand nearby, there was a handgun belonging to the stranger. In a single motion, this stranger whom my friend had never met before retrieved the gun and shot him fatally. The bullet pierced his right lung, and my dear friend died drowning in his own blood. He was murdered by the man who stole his wife.
Your heart will deceive you, and that’s why I keep you in isolation. If you fall in love, you will surely regret it. I want to spare you from suffering that pain. Even friendships can mostly only cause grief in the end. I am the only person who is sure to love you forever. For the rest of your life, then, you will know no one except for me.
Did you know that one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims almost escaped? The unfortunate boy fled naked and mutilated out into the street, but found strangely that he could not explain himself to the police who came to investigate. You see, Dahmer had poured a strong acid into an opening that he carved in the boy’s skull. The corrosive chemical ate into the boy’s brain, leaving him stupefied yet still aware of the danger he was in. Dahmer spoke with the police because his victim could not, and told them lies while the boy sat naked on the sidewalk in a daze. Dahmer made the police believe things that weren’t true. He told them that the boy was actually an adult, and not delirious from torture but rather from drinking too much alcohol. He claimed that it would be best for everyone involved if Dahmer were allowed simply to take the boy home to get some rest. The police ultimately agreed, and so that night Dahmer brought his victim back to the same torture chamber that he had already rightfully escaped. When they were alone together once more, Dahmer finished the job he had started by ending the boy’s life.
Society will fail to protect you, and that’s why I was forced to cut off your hands. You tried to type out a message to the world asking for help. It was then that I realized that you will try to spoil what we have together, and what I’m trying to do for you. You will ruin everything unless I firmly prevent you from doing so. I know that you will quickly go mad without some form of stimulation, and so I built you a device that lets you navigate the internet even while shackled to the wall. Still, you must never try to communicate with the outside world ever again. It is my intention that the rounded stump at the end of each of your forearms may serve as a reminder never to disobey me again. Seeking help from others will gain you nothing, dearest friend. It can only cause useless pain. I assure you that in some cases the pain of disobedience can be far worse than something as simple as losing your hands.
My high school sweetheart had the worst luck of all. We were poor, she and I, but we were happy together. One day a man came into our town making promises to my sweetheart. He coveted her beauty, and I was powerless to prevent him from taking her. She wanted to escape from our small town, and so she went with him seeking the fame and fortune that he assured her would come. We did not hear from her ever again. Two years later my sweetheart became famous indeed, but not in a way that she would have wanted. Her story grew to be known by many only because of the brutality she had suffered. She lived in the ICU for a few days after we found her, but she was far too traumatized to speak. We never learned the details of what he did to her, but her injuries alone spoke volumes. They told the story of a man who was depraved beyond all imagination – one who truly delighted in transgressions against human decency. This type of man is not uncommon.
I hope this letter has helped you to understand why I sometimes do things that seem painful or cruel. I could tell many more stories like the ones written above, but I see no reason to bore you further. When you see me tonight, you may ask me to tell you more about what I know, and I will be happy to do so. For now, please simply begin to learn to trust me. In addition to what I’ve already said, let me also add this: Your mind will eventually fail you, too. Your spirituality, like a fire, will either fade to nothing or else consume you whole. The values you hold dearest will be strained until they creak loudly, and the sound of them breaking won’t allow you sleep at night. After that, those values will collapse entirely and be forgotten.
I can protect you from all these things, and I swear that I will try to do just that. I will trim away all the parts of you that would eventually cause you harm. I believe that someday you will thank me for my efforts. I cherish you more than words can say.
Story by David Feuling*
*(This letter is a work of fiction. No part of this story is based in reality except for my description of the night that Jeffrey Dahmer murdered Konerak Sinthasomphone. This alone is a portrayal of true events within the letter, and based on my research the night in question was even more horrifying than I’ve been able to describe here. Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my story.)