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Section 1

(an inmate's letters)

Dear Xhaka,

What stopped me writing was the shock, at first, then that turned into a sort of laziness. I kept telling myself I needed to get something sent, and a little voice kept saying, "write later, it's too hard Just now".

Anyway, this is my reply. I won't try and answer those questions you asked, because you asked them a long time ago, and they seem trivial now. Suffice to say, I'm living a happy life. I have a young son. Having him made me want to write to you, I don't know why.

You never said it, but I get the feeling reading over your letter again, that you felt terribly scared. You talked about wardens as if they were old friends.

taking comfort where you could. Am I right?

I sometimes dream of you, standing at the foot of my bed, or a chance meeting at the Cloistrum. You say "they let me out early," or something like that, and I worry that you are going to kill me. You are always angry in the dream, because never wrote to you.

l'd like to know how you feel now, ten years on? I understand if you don t want to reply.

Diira.


Section 2

Diira,

It is good to hear your voice (through the written word). It is a shame you didn't write sooner, because it might have helped me. However, I am sympathetic. At the hear of your reluctance to write is shame. You are not alone. Shame is the taboo we hold highest. It is the itch I had to scratch, the reason I was locked away - I wanted to puncture that perfection.

I have spent a lot of time reading, much as I did before them killings. Through reading, I have better understood myself. I know that my place is here, in a minimal and confined space. In my early life I was searching for that confinement without realising it. Even now, I would have difficulty living outside. I would feel the persistent need to transgress, much as I did on that day.

I have regrets of course. I regret that those people died for nothing but my pleasure. After I killed them, they became nothing. Hear me blaspheme! We are not gods. There is NOTHING after life. (Hello Warden, I know you are reading this.) Xhaka.


Section 3

Dear Xhaka,

You're wrong, it's not shame I feel, it's guilt.

I often wonder if I could have influenced you, coerced you even, away from the path you took.

It is a strange byproduct of your crime, that I have also lost my faith. No matter how good life can be, your existence alone undercuts it. You spoiled things, and I feel as much a god as a tiny beetle.

But something about it seems very unfair. Even if you were pure evil, which I know you are not, I would still want to help you. Our other friends have moved on - I cannot, because I was there when you did it. How do I move on from that?

Diira.


Section 4

Diira,

It's like I've you've never been away. i can hear that neurotic, convictionless voice of yours. I did something because I could, now I am punished for it. It is no more complicated than that. Let's end these communications, as I am not sure it is good for either of us.

I am proud to be the only citizen who has killed in two hundred years. Serving this sentence I have heard only my own voice, and the voices of my two cellmates. You add an exhausting fourth voice, and I don't want to hear it.

I was expecting sports news, the story of your career, not adolescent psychoanalysis. Leave me alone.
NEVER WRITE AGAIN.

Xhaka


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