Dresden, 25 August 2026
First of all, Happy birthday! You are now twenty-three years young, and none of those years did I think I’d hear from you again. Technically, I still haven’t, but knowing that you care about me has never been so refreshing.
This is my first time writing a letter, but if you don’t know already, your letter arrived six years late. I don’t know whether you have given your plans up, but instead of sending it you buried it under your desk in our dorm. Silvia rediscovered the thing three years later and kept it for herself for another three years ‘for personal reasons’ (which is strange, because she never keeps secrets). One time she suddenly called me and requested for a talk. To be brief, she discussed about you, whom she called ‘selfish and delusional’, and how you never respond to any of her texts since the incident. There was something suspicious about you, she said. She’s coming to Dresden for a more elaborate discussion and—as an American herself—a tour.
Last thing I know, she’s a lawyer now. She gave up her dream after the island incident, changing her path as soon as Pierre was sentenced to fifteen years in prison, for ‘first degree arson’ and ‘destruction of public property’.
Of course it was unfair. But he insisted on taking responsibility for Utterson’s death, almost as if there was a force behind it. They were dead-set on arresting him despite public doubt.
What made our defense practically useless? Other than the complete lack of evidence other than the survivors’ words, you didn’t help much. Instead of telling me or the authorities the whole story, you kept quiet when evidence is most needed. But I can’t blame you on that. The ones who deserve it were the people who did us injustice. Though they’re happy from the entertainment now, the truth will come out in ten years or less. Veils of shame will drape around them, though they’ll never admit that they had, in fact, let our friends die without seeing a ray of salvation and tying an innocent man’s hands.
Pierre’s still in the shacks as far as I know. Nine more years till his release. He might’ve had his sentence reduced, but like most of the classmates I’m kept in the dark. One thing I know is that we felt as imprisoned as you. You’re going through something I’ve never gone through, and I won’t pretend I understand. You’re bearing a heavy cross, knowing that you condemned an innocent person and had to burn him on a stake for entertainment. Tying one problem to another, you created an indestructible chain and deluded yourself into seeing it as a knot to tie all loose ends. And I think, Marwin, that that is your mistake.
But closed wounds don’t need to be reopened. As complex and confusing you were, you challenged me everyday. You taught me to be more careful and logical, to manage my time better, and not to come out of the shower naked. In turn, I showed you how fascinating the outside world is, how each sunrise warms our hearts in a different way, and how chocolate is the best thing you’d ever try. As roommates, we’re a fucking mess. But a good mess like art recycled from garbage.
So I want you to hear me out and write back to me, okay? Maybe meet me wherever’s convenient for you. Missing someone who’s still out there is even harder than missing someone who’s permanently gone. Write me something back and let me know that you’re still alive and kicking.
But if you never will, just know that I’ll be rooting for your happiness. Know that you own your past, and it’ll help you get out of this repeating cycle of mistakes. The past stays the same, but the present is always stronger. I know, I suck at deep talk, but just remember that.