Chuck had thought the idea was dumb from the get-go, that writing a “letter to his future self” was absolutely daft. Why would that guy care about what Past Chuck did? He’d already done it. Plus, how the hell would a paper envelope survive being buried in the ground for 20 years? It didn’t matter, though, he couldn’t exactly tell Mary that her father refused the bonding activity she suggested, that he thought it was arguably the dumbest thing since soap-flavored milk. Instead, he closed his mouth and scribbled a few lines of text on a sheet of loose-leaf paper while she sat in the tiny, pink chair beside him.
He’d begun with the basics: his name—as if Future Chuck wouldn’t already know that—his age of 37, and the date: 4/22/2015. He then filled in a few lines about his hobbies, which at the time included sleeping, eating Cheerios, and watching re-runs of *Seinfeld.* While he was pretty confident that Future Chuck would probably care even less about this information than current-Chuck did, he kept a smile across his lips as the pen dragged over the loose-leaf. He had concluded the letter with a few updates on current events: the President still being Barack Obama, the constant state of unease with North Korea, and that the world had recently begun misplacing, or otherwise destroying, airplanes.
Chuck glanced over at Mary, the two of them standing over the shallow hole they had dug together. It was no more than a foot deep and clearly would not stand the test of time enough to support two paper envelopes, save for some miracle. Digging anything deeper, however, was not an option. It had nearly destroyed Chuck’s addled back to excavate the small hole. Continuing would surely mean death, or at least mild discomfort.
Mary dropped her envelope in and turned toward Chuck. “Now you put yours in, Daddy!”
Chuck sighed and held his hand out, white envelope addressed “To Future Chuck” clenched in his palm, and then released. It slowly tumbled toward the ground, like a falling feather, and landed softly beside Mary’s. A third envelope immediately appeared beside where it had come to rest, a familiar handwriting scribbled across it.
“Good!” Mary said, clapping her hands together, apparently unaware of the fact that one of their notes had cloned itself. She turned and wandered back over to her swing set, humming the chorus to “Let It Go” softly, just as she almost never stopped doing.
Chuck continued staring down at the hole, mentally struggling to make sense of the situation. Perhaps he’d unknowingly carried two envelopes with him? Certainly he’d remember writing something on the front of both of them, rather than just the one. He took a deep breath and bent down, grabbing the third envelope and lifting it back up. It was addressed to “Past Chuck,” the words scribbled in his own handwriting atop the clean, pearl-colored envelope. As far as Chuck was aware, he was not Past Chuck. He was current Chuck. Regardless, it was still rather odd. He turned it over and ripped it open, then unfolded the note within:
“Dear Past Chuck,
I hope this letter finds you well, as I’m sure it did. I sent it back in time, you see. That’s something we can do in the future, but only under strict supervision by our Glorious Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of West Korea. These messages are reviewed by his wonderful, comfortably paid, and well-fed, employees prior to going out to citizens of the past. I am sure it was not heavily edited so as to ensure I depict our wonderful situation in the best light.
I wanted to thank you for taking the time to write me all those years ago/at this very second. It was so nice to find it buried a few inches below the dirt, concealed under the floorboards of the shed you’ve not yet built. Unfortunately, as windowless sheds have been deemed illegal by our Glorious Leader (they are a haven for espionage, since you can’t see in), I was forced to tear it down and—fortunately—re-discover this wonderful letter just beneath. Mary’s was adorable, how she discussed that *Frozen* film in great detail and absolutely nothing else. While I haven’t seen her in a few years, I’m sure she’d be glad to give it a read. Unfortunately, she’s at a wonderful camp in Far-West Pyongyang—formerly New York—and is too busy to write me. I’m sure she’s having a great time playing sports, and doing Arts and Crafts, and not being tortured, and all the other activities a 29-year-old woman loves to do. Our Glorious Leader assures me she’s very happy!
Anyway, I figured it would be polite to write you back. You know, update you on my life and tell you how things are going. They’re great, everything is fantastic. I mean, there were a few years in which things were a bit rough, but now they’re wonderful. I still live in the same house, but it’s no longer located in America. Also it is not a house, but rather a tent made out of government-approved materials. See, we are now citizens of the Democratic People’s republic of West Korea, following a brief—and incredibly violent—war. That won’t be for another six years, though, so don’t worry about that.
The future is great. Our Glorious Leader has enabled a much better civilization. I read that you’ve still got Obama as your socialist dictator. That’s a shame. It was hard under him, being able to go to school and buy food from a supermarket. I can’t even imagine how hard that was. Did I mention we have dinosaurs now? I don’t think so. That’s one of the gifts our Glorious Leader has brought his citizens. Through removing all educational, agricultural, and economical funding, he was able to put all resources into researching and ultimately cloning Tyrannosaurus Rex, Raptors and Pterodactyls. It’s great, they’re not an inconvenience at all. Honestly, I love having to run for my life every time I leave my shack and go down to the corner market for my ration of bread. Super fun.
Aside from that, there’s not too much different. Dennis Rodman is our district representative, and by district I mean all of the former Continental United States. While some argue he has absolutely no understanding of global politics, I say he was a great pick to lead our district. A real man’s man, a people pleaser. Sure, he made it mandatory for all citizens to have a sleeve of tattoos on either their left or right arm, but I love that. Nothing better than seeing infants in tattoo parlors, the artists puffing smoke directly into their newborn faces. It’s great. The future is great.
How are things with you? Still living in Wisconsin? I hope so, it’s great there. Seriously great. I know there was a point where I considered moving to Canada, to get away from the place that would soon be invaded by North Korea, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I’m so glad I stayed at home, lost access to my daughter, had my home torn down and replaced with a tent, and got to live in a country ruled by our Glorious Leader. I definitely recommend you not ever move away.
Anyway, I’d better stop writing now. Our Glorious Leader has enacted a mandatory curfew of 3:30pm, during which time we’re required to go indoors and pray to Macho Man Randy Savage. Turns out he never actually died, just defected to North Korea and became a deity there. It’s great, I love worshipping television personalities.
Hope all is well,
Chuck lowered the envelope back down and glanced over at Mary. For some reason, he had the strangest urge to move to Canada.