Dear John

Dear John,

I want you to know that I still care for you. But when you are not here, I sit with Rose and feel more deeply comfortable than I ever do with you. She never belittles or disappoints me. She often comforts and delights me. She has remained with me for years, no matter how badly I treat her; a sure thing in my life.

In a way, I envy her stamina, because I can’t do the same with you. I need someone who will provide a safe place for me when I am down and share my happiness when I am up. Someone I can look forward to and rely on. Rose and I silently have coffee together every morning and it is a peaceful and energising start to the day. When last did you and I share such a moment? At the end of a difficult day, I know that just sitting with her for a few minutes will make me feel better. When last did you restore me? I used to be so eager to see you, so that I could tell you my news, and now I would rather tell her. I need a sure thing, and you are not it.

I know this must bewilder you, that I’m dropping you for Rose. But she is a symptom of the problem, not its cause. The point is that I have more of a relationship with her than with you, and she is a plant.


11 thoughts on “Dear John”

  1. Really enjoyed this in a light kind of serious way.
    Love the way that it is somewhat clear all along that Rose is not a person so the ‘twist’ at the end is expected, pleasant and cute (rather than sudden and tricksey).

    Really enjoyed the short sentences and simple language especially in the first paragraph. “She never belittles or disappoints me. She often comforts and delights me”: has the short declarative vibes of someone laying down the truth – just like a stern break up.

    Also the finality of “I need a sure…” really works for me.

    For me the rhetorical questions in the second paragraph upset the snail-mail lettery-ness of it and to a some degree take away from the tone of finality of the rest. Especially the repeated long statement + short question bits upset the rhythm for me and I would prefer this form broken of mixed up.

    Think the last paragraph is nice – polite and somewhat vicious. I especially like the closing salutation – feels like someone agonised over whether to use ‘my love’ or ‘always your friend’ and just ended up with the simple ‘goodbye’.


    1. Thanks :-) I wrote the rhetorical questions because I have used similar things in letters or seen them in such forms. But I agree with you that it might have read smoother if they were concatenated.

  2. I love the format – a “Dear John” letter is perfect for the 250 word limit, I love using this sort of thing as it allows for economy and adds character immediately.

    I was convinced Rose was a person at first, and the letter seemed so harsh as a result, I felt sorry for John. I loved the realisation that Rose is a plant (A rose called “Rose” perhaps?) and immediately re-read the whole of it realising it was less cruel as a result! It’s odd that comparing the old lover to the new seems like such a bitch thing to do while comparing the old lover to a plant just means “things were really bad between us, we are better off apart”.

    Thank you, you made me smile!

  3. Loved it. I was thinking doll or something else non-living – I think it was the “remained with me for years” bit.

    Liked the tone – I can almost hear the incredulous tone in that last sentence.

  4. Thanks, parfles and Neil. I’m so glad that everyone saw Rose as something different. That means what I tried to do worked :-) I like the way seeing it as a plant changed the tone for you, parfles – pleased me a lot.

  5. Isn’t this your first “constructive criticism” story? :)

    This is a Dear John letter, in which Our Hero describes how her relationship with The John no longer satisfies her. She points out that she does have a relationship that satisfies her more than the relationship she has with The John; the punchline is that the relationship is with a plant.

    I did originally think that Rose (amusing name 😛 ) was a person, until the very end. I enjoyed the surprise.

    I thought that the ending, especially the last paragraph, may have been too quick, especially the reveal of Rose being a plant.

    A small, possible niggle: there’s a run of sentences in the first paragraph that begin with “she”.

    > In a way, I envy her stamina, because I can’t do the same with you.
    I’m not entirely sure that I understand this sentence. Is she saying that she no longer has the stamina to remain with him? Every time I reread the piece I paused at this sentence.

    I enjoy the emphasis on the word “plant” :)

    Cool piece. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I loved this, it simply worked. The tone is perfect, the carefully-rationalised complaint, the attempt to explain ending a relationship without succumbing to anger. My mental image of Rose was someone middle-aged and comfortable and rather passive ;>. So the revelation was a surprise, and an amusing one – the plant-revelation sentence is perfect, it breaks out as a suddenly pained complaint on top of all that civilised explanation.

    I think other commenters have problems with “I envy her stamina, because I can’t do the same with you”, and I do think it suffers from over-compression of ideas and thus jars a little. But it’s a very minor niggle.

  7. Thanks Rudy and docinatrix for the comments :-) I’m very glad that the idea and deception worked as naturally as I tried to make it. The “envy her stamina” sentence is quite dense and on reflection that does jar with the simplicity of a letter to someone.

  8. Ace! This is great.
    The tone is perfect, especially the exasperation at the end.
    I didn’t suspect Rose was a non-human life-form at all, and loved the twist.
    Like Parfles said, the DJ format is great for this length, and you’ve packed loads of emotion into it, under the surface of the calm voice.

    My only (minor) fongle is that on rereading, knowing that Rose the plant is replacing John the (ex-)Dear, the sentence “I need someone who will provide a safe place for me when I am down and share my happiness when I am up” didn’t quite work for me.

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