Letters to Adam


by Vivienne Coburn

 

Dear Adam,

I hate you. You eat my Tiny Teddies. You throw the basketball at my head. And you won’t let me sit and read. I have to play basketball with you, only for you to throw the ball at me when you get bored. And you get bored a lot.

Dear Adam,

I still hate you. Even when you come to my house, you’re still in charge. You still don’t let me read. We still have to play games. I still have to let you get away with things. And you throw my mum’s exercise ball at my head. At this rate, I’ll need a specialist to treat my head injuries. I’m not being melodramatic, you just only seem to like me when you hurt me.

Hey Vivi,

I’ve been in Thailand and Vietnam for the past few months, so that’s why I haven’t been answering your calls. I don’t think you’d like it over here, there’s monkeys in the temples and you can’t pat the dogs you find in the streets. But I’ll be back soon, just in time for your birthday. Hopefully. Maybe then we can go for a bike ride.

Love, Dad.

 

Dear Adam,

You play cricket with the boys who tease me. Can you please ask them to stop bullying me? It’s not as nice when they throw balls at my head.

 

Dear Adam,
It’s exciting when you tell me secrets. Everything you tell me is something that I cherish for days, your secrets are like presents. I didn’t like it when you said that it’s true that no one else likes me. You’re not wrong, but I’d have preferred not to hear it. But I like hearing the secrets about other people. It’s all I want to talk about with you. I wish you’d tell me some of your own secrets, it’d be the best thing ever.

 

Hey Vivi,
I’m sorry I haven’t been replying. I’ve moved into a new house. You’d like this one, it’s close to a playground and there’s a girl about your age who lives next door. You might have a friend to play with when you come over.

I only got rid of your bike because I thought you had outgrown it.

Dad.

 

Dear Adam,

Stop telling me that the Ancient Greeks are more interesting than the Ancient Egyptians. They’re not, and you know it.

 

Hi Vivi,

I’m afraid we can’t really afford to get you a new bike this year. Sorry.
Love, Dad.

 

Dear Adam,

I guess we’re friends now. You’ve told me one of your secrets. It was so tantalising, I wrote it down in my special cat shaped notebook, ripped out the cat shaped page and hid it under my mattress. I even wrote it with my green glitter gel pen. I know you like the blue gel pen, but you liked it so much that it’s almost run out. How can I draw sharks now?

 

Dear Adam,

You haven’t been at school for a few months and people are wondering if you’ve died. People have been keeping their handballs in your desk, as well as their rubbish. I know you haven’t died, but I like to imagine that you’re covered in electrodes and feeding tubes.

 

Dear Adam,

I haven’t seen you in two years. I saw you outside the shops today and you looked different. I wanted to come up and say hello, but you were talking to other people. You still like drinking Fanta from the looks of things, so not a lot must have changed then. I wish we were friends, the girls at my school don’t seem to like me much. No one seems to like me anywhere.

 

Dear Adam,

I’m sorry that my dad now lives in your shed. He didn’t have anywhere else to go.

 

Hi Vivi,

It’s not ideal staying here, but at least the house has coffee and there’s not as many spiders in here as I thought. If Adam is your friend, does this mean you’ll be coming over often?

 

Dear Adam,

It appears that my dad will be living in your shed for the foreseeable future. In order to help you coexist, here’s a basic instruction manual for how to deal with him.

One, he’s always right. Even if you know he’s wrong, don’t ever suggest that he is.

Two, he likes his coffee with two spoons of sugar and full fat milk.

Three, he will forget to put the milk back in the fridge and he will leave crumbs in the butter.

Four, he smokes constantly. I know you don’t like smoking, but please don’t say anything to him about it. He’s got enough tar in his lungs to repave the entire Pacific Highway, so with any luck he’ll die before you get to niggle him about his addiction.

Five, he’s always right.

 

Dear Adam,

The instructions were simple. I can’t make him change. To give my father some credit, he’s tenaciously consistent.

 

Dear Adam,
I’m sorry that you don’t like my dad.

 

Vivi,

I don’t know why you think that he’s your friend. He’s rude, he’s condescending and he never has anything nice to say about you. I don’t think highly of him, he’s also very lazy. Do you know how long he stays in bed? He stays in bed until 3pm and only communicates by grunting.

 

Dear Adam,
My new friends don’t like you. Even though you don’t say much to them, they don’t really care for what you do have to say. I’m sorry that my dad still lives in your shed.


Dear Adam,

I’m sick of apologising for my dad living in your shed. There’s nothing I can do. Mum doesn’t want him in our shed, no one else will take him.

 

Dear Adam,
Why do you wish that he was dead? And why did you tell me that?

 

Dear Adam,

Thank you for throwing the basketball at my head today. It’s a sure sign that things are going back to normal.

 

Vivienne,

His back wasn’t actually hurting today, he just wanted to play on his PlayStation. You could have come over anyway, I’m always happy to talk to you.

Love, Dad.

 

Dear Adam,

Sometimes I wish things between us could be a different kind of normal. Neither of us have any idea what it means, only what it looks like. From what I’ve seen everyone else do, normal looks like loitering at Hungry Jack’s after school, normal looks like sharing chips, and normal looks like a game of basketball where I don’t lose brain cells.

For every secret he tells you, there are five more he’s keeping from you.

Love, Dad.

 

Dear Adam,

I have a boyfriend now. Someone managed to like me enough to want to see me without throwing basketballs at my head. And as far as I know, no one’s dad currently lives in his shed. So far, so good. He wants to meet my friends and get to know my family. You were the first person that I thought of. Do you want to come over? As long as you don’t throw something at him, I’m sure you’ll really like him.

 

Dear Adam,

This was the only time you’ve hugged me. That you said you were happy for me. It was a tentative hug, as though you’d never done it before. You were soft, you were gentle, you were everything that you never were. Please do it again.

 

Dear Adam,

You don’t talk to me anymore. Even your glares lack subtext. I’d give anything for you to throw a basketball at my head or say that you hate me. Just say something.

PS: I’m sorry that my dad has moved back into your shed. I thought things were getting better for him, that he’d stop living in sheds.

 

Dear Adam,
The house, I hope you’ll remember, was dark. You weren’t talking even though you had asked me to come over. You were on the couch, focusing intently on The Simpsons. I went to get water and there was a crash that echoed throughout the house, a sickening crash. I didn’t mean to break the vase.


You had never seen me cry before. I hoped that this would make you talk to me. I hoped you’d say it was your father’s vase, that you didn’t care it was broken, that it was in a poorly placed spot, that it was an ugly vase, that you hated your father, he hadn’t seen this vase in years anyway, that you hated me, that you’d smash my face into the shards, that you thought I was stupid. Anything would have been better than saying ‘it’s fine’ and leaving me with a thousand pieces of glass. 

For a moment, I hated you.  

I hope you don’t hate me.

 

Dear Adam,

I’m sorry that my sense of humor isn’t to your liking. I’m sorry I’m crap at making Milos. I’m sorry for always being in the way of the basketball. I’m sorry that my dad lives in your shed. I’m sorry that my back didn’t break, I’m sorry that I didn’t have to stop playing cricket. I’m sorry that I’m stupid. And I’m sorry for wanting to be your friend.

 

Dear Vivienne,

It wasn’t the vase. He’s been malicious before you broke it.

Love, Dad

 

Dear Adam,

I did say that I was sorry. How many apologies do you want?

 

Dear Adam,

I want to know why you’ve stopped speaking to me. Please say something. Tell me you hate me. Tell me you wish that I was dead. Tell me I’m stupid. I miss you. You can throw a ball at my head if you like. 

 

Dear Vivienne,

Just because you’re not friends with him anymore doesn’t mean that you can’t still come over. I’m still here.

Love, Dad.

 

Dear Adam,
I thought I saw you today. Had it been you, I wouldn’t have known what to say. I love you? I hate you? Had it been you, I might have cried. Maybe it’s better to not see the people who you thought you’d build a future with.

 

Dear Adam,

I looked under my mattress yesterday and your secret was still there, the green glittery ink still stark on the cat shaped page. I don’t even know if the secret had any truth to it, I never asked myself if you could lie to me.

 

Dear Vivienne,

Thank you for the Christmas card. I’ve put it on the shelf, it looks quite nice next to the turpentine and the whipper snipper. Adam came downstairs the other day and had a coffee with me. He takes it without sugar or milk. He’s braver than I thought. I think he’s lonely. You should talk to him.

Love, Dad.

 

Dear Adam, 

It’s been a while since I thought of you. Life gets in the way, if you let it. You start thinking about things like uni and boyfriends, and then you can forget about things that used to matter.

It’s better that we euthanised the relationship and that everything we knew curled up quietly and died. I prefer forgetting to miss you. The world I live in now is mine. And I think that’s better.

Dear Adam,
We were terrible people once. Little has changed.

Sincerely, Vivienne.

 
 
 

About the author

Vivienne Coburn is an eclectic writer and coffee snob from Brisbane. She likes writing in cafes, going to museums, and judging people's eyebrows.

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