Ch. 9: From Ruth to Suzie-Q. July 21, 2012.

Ch. 9: From Ruth to Suzie-Q. July 21, 2012.

A Chapter by Gee Roughin

Dear Suzie-Q,

You know since you left all your letters with me, I read them all. I tried to make my first letter to the dead on your birthday in 2008, but I couldn't. I was so torn up.

Your novel's finally going into print. I feel like I have to tell you, I added a chapter to the end. It's not that I don't get why you wanted to end the thing where you did, in that one crystal moment of freedom you ever knew. I certainly didn't get it that day--today, I feel like I understand but maybe I still don't. Anyway, they have to know your whole life. You are the free-est person I've ever known. Except Sam, of course. Yeah, Sam and Jack.

Speaking of Sam and Jack, they've gone into hiding. Don't worry, it's not a secret or they wouldn't have told me! Such a big mouth, but as you said, we all have our path, and our limits. That's probably why they went ahead and sent me the letter about Jack's escape and told me I could print it. And yeah, by what miracle of bravado and invention I have no idea. They're not dumb enough to let me in on that one.

I'm trying not to be angry with them. I mean about pulling it off for Jack, and leaving you to rot. But I know, because I know you, you would never think this way. You were always that generous with your hope. Believing we're all heroes if we just take that walk. "Winners and losers, known and unknown." We take that walk, and pray to God or nature that someday, somewhere, one of us will win. That was you.

I feel like we fought for years, but I think now you fought the world and I fought you. I kept coming back to you with my personal progress expecting you to say, Brava! Good job! You're finally there! But instead you would plague me with new questions, pushing me and pushing me and assuming I should hold my own. And I do, but God, you could be annoying in your indifference. Like that time I came and told you I'd joined the Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. I was sure you'd say, at last you've come round! And you only came back with your aren't there any Palestinian groups in Washington? What a blast!

I'm starting to get over the feeling that you were untouchable; the constant nagging that with your suffering I couldn't say a word against you. You never asked for that. If I gave it to you, it's because I was usually convinced you were right. So that's my fault, and now that I'm free to judge you as much as I like and criticize in my memory along with the relief that you can't suffer anymore I am beginning to realize that you were probably aware of all your faults to such a degree it would have been pointless to point them out.

Now you've left me alone, and I can't keep protecting you and I can't keep asking you for approval. I am left with myself. My questions and preoccupations are not the same as yours, not the same as Sam's. So here’s my diatribe: I will be obsessed with Jewish identity until the day I die. I’m convinced it matters that the Jewish anti-Zionist network is Jewish. I know Jews are an oppressing group in Palestine, but I will always think of us as an oppressed group too. I can't join Sam's movement, not because they won't have me but because I don't think like them. I'm not a pacifist, but I don't have the courage to join the other side of the fight. I don't believe in the law, but I don't want to go to prison. And still I think if we work together, we can do something.

So I'm taking charge of this one task, and making decisions you are not alive to make for yourself. My letter to you will be printed with your novel, along with all the letters you wrote the day you died, and many others I've been able to collect from your friends and mine. I don't think my pedantic style is quite coherent, but this is my way of standing with you, in life and in death.

Thank you for exploding me. For making catastrophe, for surviving your own with such intricate stamina and leaving the rest of us to keep doing what we can. Goodbye, my little dance step.

In peace and friendship,


P.S. As I was editing the final proofs, I got two letters in the mail from Joe that are ripping my world apart. Again. No time to pen my emotions now. I'll leave the readers to judge you, and me, and them.

© 2011 Gee Roughin

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Added on October 19, 2011
Last Updated on October 19, 2011


Gee Roughin
Gee Roughin

Cairo, Egypt

Before spending seven years writing Paranoid Wasp, I studied literature at Wheaton College (IL), Yale University and the University of Chicago. I moved to Paris in 1999. In addition to ten years in Fr.. more..