Dear Staff of the Starlight Recovery Center,
I wonder what you saw when you looked at me. A failure? Something broken but not beyond repair? Or a soul so lost I disappeared when you blinked?
To tell you the truth, I can’t remember a single damn day in the Starlight Recovery Center. I remember flashes of things that may or may not have happened. Like when that woman who wouldn’t ever speak to anyone one day started speaking to me. We were in the pool, I was wondering, as I always did, if I’d have enough time to drown myself before one of you pulled me out, and then the woman just floated right on over to me, opened her mouth and started speaking. I remember she had the prettiest voice I’d ever heard. Such a sweet, truthful sound, like her very spirit had come up for air and then stayed there, spilling all the truths of the universe. I hadn’t thought much of her before then, but once she started speaking think I fell in love right there. Her eyes glowed with a fire I ain’t ever seen before or since, bouncing off the softly lapping water and seeing the truth of me, whatever that was. I wonder what she saw, and if it scared her. I wish I could remember what she said.
I’ll tell you what my favorite thing about being in the Starlight Recovery Center was: There was no pretending inside those walls. We were completely and openly great, terrible, chaotic messes, while everyone else on the outside still went about trying to fool one another. There’s a freedom in embracing failure. How exhausting a life of make-believe, I don’t know how they do it. I guess that’s why most of them ain’t ever been in the Starlight Recovery Center. But while they might achieve and just about get on, they miss out on that one wonderful, glorious, undeniable truth: It’s just a ride. This life, I mean. It’s just a ride. They try so hard to look the part, they miss the whole damn experience, and when it’s just at the end, winding down, the wind no longer whipping their hair back, the passing scenery slowing down, their mouths fall open and their eyes go wide, and always they think, Oh no! I missed it all, this ride of life, I missed the entire thing. Can we start again? Just once more, I’ll keep my eyes peeled and I won’t take it all so seriously, I’ll be good to my fellow travelers and I’ll open my heart and mind to it all, please turn this thing around and give me just one more go! But it’s too late, and they know it. But go into the Starlight Recovery Center and ask any one of those crazy fools in there what this life is all about and they’ll give you one big goofy grin and say, “It’s just a ride, baby, now hand me some spirits and whatever pills you got in that pocket of yours and let’s taste the fucking moon.” Those crazy fools might not get much else right, but they sure know how to be alive.
Sometimes I think of Jesus Christ. I wonder what was the worst thing he ever said, or did, or the worst thought he ever let pass through his head. What if one day, as well as all the good he said and did, what if one day he was crossing the street to get some milk, or whatever they did in those days, and what if when he was going to get the milk, he passed a little girl, maybe thirteen or fourteen, but for the briefest of moments she looked like the woman she was goin become, and what if, just for that brief moment, Jesus thought to himself, I want to fuck that little girl up the ass. Now, no sooner than the thought had come was it gone again, and Jesus felt mighty ashamed, but still, he had thought it all the same. Or what if one day Jesus was in a bad mood because he ain’t slept well, kept up all night by the voices in his head, and a man in an awful hurry bumped into him on the street and before he’d even had time to consider anything, Jesus spun around to the man and yelled something ugly at him. My question is, if Jesus was capable of such things, if he was just a man like any one of us, does this make him more or less deserving of our love? If Jesus, like us, made mistakes and did wrong, but always tried his best, battled every damn day all the demons that terrorized his head, does that make him more or less of a hero? That question been following me around like a stray dog, but it’s started to become a companion.
Honestly, I’m no longer sure I’m writing any letters at all. Could be I’m still in hospital, strapped to a bed and foaming at the mouth. Could be I’m spaced out on tranquilizers at the Starlight Recovery Center. Hell, could be I’m still high as a fucking zeppelin on the very first trip I ever had, and all this future that I have lived has yet to transpire and I’m doomed to live it all again soon as I come to. What’s funny—that is to say, what’s not at all funny—is I don’t doubt for a second I’d make the same mistakes all over again.
Thank you for trying to help us crazy fools,
This brilliant debut consists of a prose collection of fictional letters from a deceased 26-year-old Southern American named Jeremiah John Watts (JJ). The people JJ mentions in these letters have a parallel to the alienated and confused dreamers, addicts and lost souls found in the work of the likes of Denis Johnson and William Burroughs, but JJ’s larger-than-life sentimentality as his past leaks out of his heart and onto the page puts this collection in some new sphere of perception equally brilliant but entirely its own. Gradually, the letters tell a fractured tale of a life of mistakes, heartbreak, sickness, and regret, but also love, faith, hope and perseverance.
– Heath Brougher Author, A Curmudgeon is Born, and Your Noisy Eyes
To find out more about Dreaming In Starlight read the Introduction.
About the Author
Philip Elliott was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1993 and quickly started scribbling nonsense. He’s the founder and editor-in-chief of Into the Void Magazine, and his own writing can be found in various journals in 9 countries, such as Otoliths, Scarlet Leaf Review, Foliate Oak, Revista Literariedad and Flash Fiction Magazine. He has a degree in Ancient Classics, likes to blur the boundaries between fiction’s many genres, and loves above all writing that is honest and heartfelt. Philip lives in Dublin, where he gets along better with his dogs than any humans, is finishing up work on a novella and much too many other projects, and is any combination of these things: fiction writer, poet, feminist, vegan, atheist, buddhist, minimalist, mindful meditator, wandering wonderer, punk rock fanatic & very loose cannon. Stalk him at philipelliottfiction.com.
Visit Philip’s Author Page At www.ctupublishinggroup.com/philip-elliott.html
Read on Kindle Unlimited At www.amazon.com/dp/B06XJCG48J