Author’s Note: Charlie is a fictional character from the book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. The write-up below is a letter that Charlie sends to the person he used to communicate with. This article is part of the diary series we have on the site. You can find similar articles here, and oh, another one, here.
September 27, 2002
It has been ten years since I had written my last letter to you. I thought it would be my last one to you, I really did. I thought you had known everything I had wanted you to know. Seen the bits of my life that I wanted you to see. I really thought the most significant part of my life was over, and that part is all you had to know.
But things don’t always work out that way.
I have grown. I am tall, taller than my elder brother, mum would say I’m stronger even. I have grown in the way I write. And I think that has to do more with the way I perceive things. As you grow, your perception and the way you view things become different. As a kid, I used to think of airplanes as little birds, that take people here and there. I used to also think that the people in there can see us, so I’d wave; I’d always wave. But now I know, airplanes are just taxis, except they’re in the air. And people in there are too busy fussing over the leg space to care to wave a hand.
I have learned to not blackout and become sad. I mean, I do, I do become sad. But you know, not the way I used to get before. I have actually learned how to enjoy my birthday. If we were still in touch, I’d even write to you on my birthday, or the day after, because there was so much happening. My sister flew over to our home, with her 2 kids and everything. She got me a perfume, that she made a big deal out of. She said it’s French, and that I should be careful with it. But it is a perfume, just a perfume. I do like the bottle. My brother, who is now a national team player (!!!) couldn’t make it because of the play-offs, sent me a laptop, to write, he said.
Now that my next one is coming soon, I can’t quite recall what happened in the previous one that well. I know it is silly, I just told you how eventful it was. But I guess telling it to you, I have realized maybe it is not much of a deal at all.
But it was.
And it still is.
At least that was what she wanted me to believe.
“You’re not sad anymore.” Sam had told me when I told her that I was overthinking it. She knows how difficult it is. She saw me. She knew it all. Which is why she told me it is a big deal. And I believe her. Now I do want to tell you all about my birthday, but that can be a story for another letter. I wish to talk about Sam now.
Sam is dead.
She has been for a few months now. Three, I guess. Yes, it is three. There is no way I’d forget that, I mark each day that she has been gone on the calendar. Patrick had come to the funeral, he had to, he’s her brother. Patrick and I talked, but not like we used to. I wish we did. I wish he’d still take me on car drives, and have me listen to music. His music. I still listen to the songs he used to like. I feel like he’s somehow written them all. I guess that is how it is, you become what you like. And somehow, what you like becomes even better because now it has a part of you.
Anyway, the funeral was quiet. All funerals are. But this one was different, no one wanted to say anything, because I think we all hoped we’d hear Sam whisper. Whisper, wake up and walk up to us. But as you can guess, that didn’t happen. Mary Elizabeth thanked me for inviting her, Bob told me that I was a good husband, and Alice just asked me to take care of myself. The rest of the people, blended in with each other; a crowd of black coats.
My father patted me on my back and went on about how tragic this all was. “So young, so tragic.” She was young, very young, but her heart was weak. Young people can have weak hearts; what is a strong heart, anyway? And who has a strong heart? All hearts can break. Even if you don’t mourn over the broken pieces.
Patrick and I smoked on the rooftop that day. We didn’t speak much, we didn’t feel like it. Ideally, we should have talked about how great Sam was, and how she’d talk so passionately about things, and how she wore her hair, and how well of an actress she was. I should have told him that he was a great brother, and he should have told me that I was a good husband. We should have talked about how she made us feel infinite. We really should have. But at that moment, smoking in silence felt right. No point regretting it now, is there?
People at work were very careful with me like they were scared to touch me. Like if they’d touch me, I’d break. Maybe I would, I’m glad they were careful. My boss even said it was alright if I didn’t write at all that month. I still don’t understand why. I wrote; I wrote more than I had since I joined the company. This really did remind me of the quote, what is bad for the heart, is good for art.
Anyway, if you’re wondering if I’m doing fine, I am. I am sad. I get sad. In fact, I am sad while writing this now. But that is normal, isn’t it? I’ll love her, I always will.
But I won’t always be only sad. She taught me better than that. I am participating, I have to. That is how you are a part of life and not just a mere spectator. Life happens, and you need to keep up with it. The chaos of it; that is how you participate.
This one day we were at the park, she held my hand and told me she loved me. And I told her I loved her. That is when she gave me a gift, and then another. After Aunt Helen, she is the only one who got me two presents, one for Christmas, the other for my birthday. I don’t know why I randomly told you this, but it felt right.
Patrick came to my home today. He didn’t tell me he would; just drove down three states to have coffee with me. I am glad he came over, and he said he’ll stay for a bit. He made his bed on the couch and told me a joke about pigeons. I know he pretended to not see it, but I know he knew that I was crying. You would, too.
For the first time in forever, I felt infinite.
Oh, and he made me a mixed tape. Just for tradition’s sake.