My Darling Marjorie,

It seems I’m a touch under the weather this morning. Even though I haven’t been outside in almost three years, I’m quite convinced that I've contracted a severe case of tuberculosis from Billy Bergamot, who coughed maliciously across the street—quite keenly in my direction!—whilst I was gazing out the window at a grey butcherbird alighting on the fence post.

Nothing at all to worry about, but if I do happen to die all of a sudden, could you perhaps throw every manuscript I’ve ever written into a pile and set the pile on fire in the back garden? And please take care not to accidentally read any of them—I suspect most of my "works" are utterly nauseating, and I can’t stand the thought of you wrinkling your perfect nose in distaste as your tear-glistening widow-eyes pass over a sentence demonstrating a lazy use of adverbs, a jarring snippet of dialogue, or the verb "galloped" twice in rapid succession. Not that any of this is worth worrying about—I’m just peachy and there is absolutely no reason for me to write this letter to you!

The only other thing is that if I’m suddenly and tragically struck down by this blasted tuberculosis bestowed upon me quite eagerly by Mr Bergamot from across the street, I ask that you please don’t arrange a funeral for me. A funeral would only draw attention to how few people I know, and that could be slightly embarrassing even when I'm dead, haha! My lack of contacts is quite deliberate, of course—I can’t tolerate being around anyone for more than about twenty minutes unless they are “the best ever”—but you are a social creature, my dear (it's quite irritating, actually) and I can't help imagining that you will have nobody to mourn with except Barry the Binman, who took a shine to me after I complimented his hat one day (it was a spiffy tweed hat—I shouldn't mind one for myself). All that said, you needn’t worry about having to deal with that situation anytime soon, as I am quite fine and the chances of me dying are only about 50/50.

But if I do die (which is a definite possibility worthy of your consideration), I ask that you quite simply drag me out into the middle of nowhere in the dead of night, dig a deep grave (preferably six to eight feet in depth and under a eucalyptus tree), and feed my ever-stiffening body to the hungry earth. I take great pleasure in the thought of kangaroos hopping over me all day—how firmly they shall stomp me into the happy dust! And the notion of my bashful corpse decomposing in relative peace—forgotten to all the world but the tiny patch of ground swallowing me up—is of immeasurable comfort to me.

And you should forget me too, my perfect darling Marjorie. You should marry someone called Sebastian or Wilfred, and he should have no disorders of the brain. He should make you very happy, never disappoint you, be impossibly handsome, and be packing a nine-incher. He should laugh at all of his mistakes and not worry about whether or not the presence of too many speech tags in his deranged scribblings is enough to unravel 25 years of love and devotion. He should be anyone except Bill Cockbastard Bergamot!

But, of course, there shan’t be any need for the help of Sebastian or Wilfred (and definitely not BB—the ratbag!), because I’m fine and everything is going to be tickety-boo. There really wasn’t any reason for me to write any of this to you, so feel free to ignore it, but also keep in mind that it’s all extremely important to me and if you disregard even the slightest detail I will be devastated (or "deadvastated", hah!)

Love you always (or as long as I last, hahahaha!),
Cedric Cumquat


Dear Cedric,

Please stop sliding letters like this under the door every time you cough more than twice in a row.

Marjorie Tangerine

Cedric read Marjorie’s letter 500 times in one minute. He sat down on the edge of the bed, his heart rate dropping steadily. The clumsy tinkling of a piano came from the other room, where Marjorie was teaching her first student of the day. He stood up and rushed to the window, surprised when Bill Bergamot—who was snipping a particularly posh hedge into the shape of a koala—smiled and waved from across the road.

Cedric waved back with the letter in his hand. A pang of guilt replaced his anxiety.

Perhaps Old Bill Bergamot wasn’t so bad after all.

The End