Dear Auntie Hilda,
Thanks for the gift, but I regret it will have to be deposited in the nearest landfill site on account of what might be in it, which I hope you were unaware of when you sent it to me.
The postman warned me. He told me that he was troubled by the smell and that he regretted having to report it to the proper authorities, but there was a law about sending dead meat through the post. I told him that all meat was dead. Death was part of being meat, I told him. After all, I said, you don’t eat living flesh, do you? You eat meat, and it’s got to be dead. Hasn’t it? And he gave me one of those looks and went away, leaving me with the parcel you sent me.
I took it into the house and the cat yowled and hissed and hurtled straight out of the back door and vanished into the distance. I’ve never seen any mortal creature move so quickly!
That’s another thing I regret really, auntie Hilda. I loved that cat, and I’ve not seen him since. I did hear tell that a feline like him was seen lurking in the shadows in the next county, but I hope not. After all, it’s a long, long way to the next county and one cat does look like another, doesn’t it, in the dark?
When I started opening the gift you sent me I’d barely cut the string when I vomited. There was a strange smell coming from it. I know how you like to excite my senses with little oddities, like the time you sent those special mushrooms to me and told me to put them in a stew with rabbit and leeks. It took me ages to see properly after that! All I could make out, it seems, were things that weren’t really there, though it was fun. And they did tell me I’d behaved a little oddly, which is why, I suppose, I ended up in prison. But the experience was worth it I can tell you! That’s where I met Cyril, and we had our Civil Ceremony only last year.
I still have vivid dreams in the night even though it’s years since I ate that lovely rabbit and leek stew, with mushrooms. And sometimes I get tempted to do bad things when I think that I must be dreaming, and find out that I’m not. Cyril helps there, though, and keeps me out of too much trouble…
But this gift, the one I’m opening now, is really … I hate to use the word unpleasant because it sounds so ungrateful, but it does smell unpleasant. Cyril’s gone out and says he won’t return until I’ve got rid of it. He says he thinks it’s an alien from outer space, alive and deadly.
And there’s a movement under the inner wrapper that I find most troubling. It reminds me of the time you posted me those jumping beans, and it turned out the reason they jumped was that they had insects inside them, wasp grubs that burrowed out and flew everywhere, stinging all my neighbours. I know you hadn’t known they were poisonous, but they were so bad that half the neighbours that had been stung actually died. I didn’t dare tell them the wasps came from a parcel you sent or I’d have ended up back inside again! I’ve still got one of the beans. I guess the grub inside it died before it could find the outside world. I planted it in the garden, but nothing grew.
I’ve reached what’s just got to be the last layer of your recent gift, auntie Hilda, and the smell has reached unbearable proportions and there are maggots crawling out between the layers of tissue paper. I don’t really like it, but I’d best take a closer look, in case. But what’s this? It looks like a decomposing, rotting arm… a human arm! I don’t want to look any further and I’m taking it to the landfill site any minute now!
I’m sorry, I really am, but I recognise this arm…
It’s one of yours. I recognise the tattoo of a serpent and the marks where you tried to slash your wrists when you were in your teens, fifty years or more ago. It’s all but eaten by the maggots, but I can still see the scar left when you tried to pierce it with a bicycle chain and it went septic… It’s so distinctive, and unique to you.
Auntie Hilda, why are you posting yourself to me? And in pieces, too?
I regret, I really really regret, that it’s all got to go to the landfill site before I get overrun with your maggots or the police come again,
Your loving Nephew