Merry Christmas from Kansas, Earth

Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute on

I was never very good at writing essays as a kid in school, but my daughter thinks I should take up some kind of mind-stimulating activity, so here goes, I guess. She worries about me now that it’s just me and Sesame at home most of the time. She says she’s afraid that I’ll get dementia if I don’t keep my mind active. I don’t think I’ll get dementia, but if it will make her happy and help her worry less, I’ll do it.

I asked her what I should write about, and she just said, “I don’t know, just write down your thoughts.”

“That seems like it would be weird to do,” I said. “I had to do something called a string of consciousness writing in school once, is that what you mean?”

“Pretend like you’re writing to a friend, like you’re writing a letter,” she said.

I don’t have too many friends these days other than Sesame, so I guess I will write to my friend Alex who I knew in third grade. I don’t keep in touch with Alex anymore, so I think it will be easier writing to him since we would have a lot to catch up on if I did see him again. Here goes:

Dear Alex,

I’m doing okay, but things have changed a lot since we were in third grade. A lot, a lot. Sometimes I’ll stop to think about all the stuff I’ve seen that I never thought I would see and I just think, Wow. I’m assuming you don’t know what I’m talking about, so I’ll fill you in.

The first thing you should know is that I just turned 74 on Monday. That’s one big “wow” that I never thought I’d see! When we were in third grade I thought waiting until I would be 13 seemed like forever, but here I am and I’m 74 years old. I swore I would never say it, but time flies!

The other big thing you should probably know is that mostly just poor people live on Earth now. That’s where I’m writing from, so I guess you can put two and two together there! Ha! I had a wife named Edy (she died), and I have a cat named Sesame and a daughter named Zelda. Zelda’s grown and moved out now so it’s just me and Sesame, but sometimes Zelda comes to visit.

Sorry, you’re probably wondering why I said “earth” with a capital E, but that’s because people live on more planets than just Earth now. Zelda lives on another planet, which is why we don’t get to see each other in person too much. They have phones with special glasses you can wear now that makes it look like the other person is in the same room as you, but I’m old and this new technology kind of confuses me. I get a little too embarrassed to try and do it with Zelda, but sometimes I miss her bad enough and want to see her face so much that I just do it anyway. She usually has to help me out a lot, but she’s a good girl and she’s patient with me.

That’s just one of those things I never thought I would see one day. You can add that to a growing list that also includes a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb (just like Hiroshima), cars that drive themselves with no steering wheel, and a city on a different planet. Crazy times! Things really have changed quite a lot.

Anyway, I need to give Sesame her medicine. She’s got diabetes I’m afraid, so I have to give her insulin, just like for a real person! I will probably write you again tomorrow. Goodnight!

Dear Alex,

Sorry I didn’t get to explain too much last night. I read back through what I wrote yesterday before I started writing to you again here and I realize that was probably a lot to take in. Sorry, but hopefully you’ve had some time to let it sink in by now.

Like I said, I’m 75 now, but I still work pretty hard. That’s right, retirement doesn’t exist in the future either! Ha! If only my grandpa could see me now, still working at my age. Oh well.

My job is a Cleaner, and I guess I don’t really have a good reason why I should complain. My job is a good one, and a lot of people here on Earth would like to have it. It’s for a good cause, and I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of it, like I’m doing something for the greater good.

I mentioned that I’ve seen a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb, but that’s only half the stupid crap people have done to Earth since we became really advanced. A lot of the planet is uninhabitable now because it’s too hot or way too cold, and I had to leave Florida to move to Kansas after they couldn’t keep the water out of the cities any longer. It was a hard time for a while, but now we’re trying to do what we can to fix it so people like Zelda can maybe come back one day.

Me and Edy made the tough call to send Zelda to school on a different planet many years ago. We knew there wouldn’t be any future for her on Earth besides being a Cleaner like her dad, and Zelda’s a smart kid, so she shouldn’t be doing something like that. Maybe by the time she’s my age she might be able to come back and live on her home planet again. I’ll probably be long dead by the time any of my Cleaning work starts paying off.

I only had a little bit of time to write here today, but I’ll try to write again tomorrow if I’m not too tired after work.

Dear Alex,

Today is a hard day for me, and I was almost too sad to write. Last year when I turned 60 Zelda told me she would try to come see me for Christmas this year, but she just called and said, “Dad, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to Christmas this year, I’m really sorry.”

Zelda lives really far away and I don’t get to see her too often, so I was looking forward to her coming to see me this year. I still have Sesame, though, so maybe we can share a can of tuna together. Ha! Of course, Sesame won’t actually eat that anymore, I think he can tell that it’s not real tuna since they’re extinct. Probably why he has diabetes now since meat is hard to come by for pets. C’est la vie!

I will try to save up my money so that maybe I can surprise Zelda at Christmas one year on her own planet. She would probably like that, I don’t really ever get to see her too much. It’s a long trip and travel is pretty hard on my body these days. I’m no spring chicken!

I wish things weren’t so hard sometimes and I get really down in the dumps thinking about it, but then I start feeling even worse for thinking that because I know a lot of other people have had it way worse than me. Some people’s kids live even farther away, and a lot more people lost their loved ones in wars or in droughts or refugee situations like when they would try to escape in boats or in long crossings over the mountains.

It could always be worse, I guess. I just wish I could see my little girl for Christmas.


Today sucks. I had to take Sesame to the vet because he’s been throwing up all his food lately. Really gross and it’s a pain to clean up after him all the time, especially after I’ve been at work all day and the last thing I want to do is clean up cat barf. Yuck.

Anyway, I took Sesame to the vet and the vet said I need to start giving him this new medicine, one millimeter every night, for a month. The real kicker? It costs $200 a month! Are you fucking serious?! Sorry for the language, but sometimes a stronger word is needed.

I don’t know what to do. Sesame is really the only person I have left here on Earth (well, I mean, he’s a cat, but he’s sort of like a person to me). I don’t want him to keep throwing up and ruining my floor and maybe be getting sicker, but I also don’t have an extra $200 a month to be throwing away on cat medicine. What to do, what to do…

I shouldn’t say today totally sucks. It doesn’t. Zelda called again, and I could tell she really did feel bad about not being able to come for Christmas because she said she’d for sure be visiting for Easter next year. Yippee!

This definitely made me happy, especially after getting back from the vet and looking at Sesame and saying “I just don’t know what to do with you, you indestructible son of a bitch.” I know Sesame doesn’t speak English, but he must have gotten the message because then he threw up on the floor again. Ugh.

Hopefully will have better news to report tomorrow. Going to bed now.

Dear Alex,

Writing with somber news today: Sesame is dead. I guess it didn’t matter that I couldn’t cough up the $200 a month for his medicine anyway because I came out of my bedroom this morning and found him dead on the kitchen floor. Very sad. I might have teased Sesame a lot and made a lot of jokes about him and called him an indestructible son of a bitch, but I really am sad that he died. He was a good cat, as far as cats go, and I will miss him.

The worst part is that I had to call Zelda to let her know that Sesame died. She cried and cried on the phone, and I tried telling her it was okay but I knew it wasn’t and then I started crying on the phone, too, which just made her cry even harder because nobody likes it when their parents cry, especially if it’s a daughter and her dad.

Life is really hard, and I think I should know that by now, but it seems like every time I think I know it something else happens and I feel like it’s harder all over again. With my luck Zelda won’t even be able to come until my birthday next year, and by then I’ll be 80. I shouldn’t keep thinking about this, I’m only going to make myself feel worse.

One thing is for certain though — I’m going to leave Earth and leave it for good. I have some cash that I’ve scraped together over the years that I was planning to use for if I ever retire, but I’ve decided I would rather spend it all to go live on the same planet as Zelda than slowly rot away here on Earth like Sesame did.

Tomorrow I’ll send my boss my 60 days’ notice letting him know that I’ve decided to retire. I’ve worked just long enough as a Cleaner that I’ll get a little bit of a pension, so hopefully that will be enough to support me for a while. If not, I’m sure Zelda’s planet could also use some Cleaners. Humans have gotten better, but we’re still not perfect. We still pollute.

I guess I’ll just keep trekking like the rest of us. I don’t know what else to do. Goodbye, Alex, and thanks for listening. Merry Christmas from Kansas, Earth.

Forrest Brown is a writer living in Nashville, TN. In his spare time he enjoys eating lots of food with his fiancé and attempting to tame and cure a calico cat. He is currently writing a novel against his better judgment.