Dear evil whore, Dear two-bit hooker, Dear crazy bitch, Dear hoe, Dear slut, Dear girl, Dear Cassie,
Congratulations. We aren’t dead! You still fit in the same jeans from high school. You exercise constantly now though, and you barely eat. You drink too much wine. You should quit smoking. You’re not going to succeed at being a glassblower, or growing weed, or tattooing, or painting. No rich man will come rescue you from the diner or the bar. But, we’ll go to college, despite everything, we’ll get out of California for two years. We’ll graduate with honors babe. We’ll meet Amal there, and she’ll be a real friend to you—a sister. Try to have fun sometimes, we’ll miss our twenties despite all that shameful stuff.
I may as well tell you that Jon will never love you, but I know you’ll fall for him anyway. Don’t text him when you try to kill yourself. Don’t put that American Beauty record on when you inevitably try to do it. Put on your favorite record, not his. I know I won’t be able to stop you. Actually, I’m glad you tried, because we never would have gone back to school if you hadn’t sobered up.
On October 9th 2004 you should watch that movie with our sister, because she’ll be dead by morning. Forgive mom, but don’t bother letting her back in your life. Don’t hitchhike with Sienna, that truck driver will try to rape you both. Don’t give our brother back his dog when he gets out of jail, she gets hit by a car within a year.
Don’t get married, just end things after college like you wanted. You can make it on your own. You can make it on your own. You will make it on your own.
Have Freddy do that Virgin Mary tattoo in black and grey, it looks dumb in color.
Sorry to tell you, but you love the wrong people. You ruin things. You’re messy. When you finally get somewhere in life, you’ll be lonelier than you’ve ever known before. You’re going to have a ton of debt. Keep writing, sometimes it’ll be all we’ve got. I know this is a lot of don’ts, but even if you don’t take my advice, we’re going to make it. Love yourself when you can. Accept a compliment sometimes (not the ones from “nice guys” at the bar) from a friend. Oh, and don’t text when you’re drunk.
Me. Us. Cassie.
Cassandra Leone is an MFA Poetry candidate at UC Irvine. She is originally from the Bay Area in California, and completed her undergraduate degree as a 'non-traditional student' at Smith College in Massachusetts. Her poems have been published in The Roadrunner Review and The Milvia Street Journal. Additionally, she's self published two limited edition letterpress chapbooks at Smith College's Apiary Press. She's spent the past several years working for antiquarian booksellers, but eventually decided she wanted to write rather than catalogue poetry.