I know you'll never read this. And even if you could, you wouldn't. But still I feel that there are many things I never said to you. So I'll say them now, if only to put your soul to rest.
I remembered Chicago. Did you know that? Of course you didn't; the bombs saw to that. But I remembered. I remembered the restaurant on the 112th floor. I remembered the moon hidden behind the towers, full and bright and weak all at the same time. I remembered the ants on the street below, rushing and going and never stopping to look up at us with our magnifying glasses. I remembered your smile, and your dress, and your laugh. But most of all, I remembered a girl. A human being. A speck of color in a Polaroid world.
What happened to that girl, Millie? Did she find a new family in the screens? Did the walls love her and cherish her and want nothing more than just to look upon her? What happened to that speck of color? Did it burn away, time accomplishing what kerosene could not? Did that color die peacefully, wasting away to ash and laughing the whole time?
I suppose I'm to blame for some of it. I burned and burned, and never looked at what was being burnt. The books? The books were nothing. You were nothing. It could burn, and so it was nothing. Burning, burning, burning, and I was happy. And you laughed at the walls, and I burned up the books, and we were happy. And all that time, we were burning ourselves. Your face turned gray, and my hands grew rough, and we smiled. We were happy. How could we not be happy? There was nothing wrong! Nothing at all! Our minds were content, because there was nothing to make them discontent. And far too late, I've realized that that was what we were missing.
Did you remember, Millie? In that infinitesimal second when the lights went out and the flames were still, did you remember the moon and the ants and the girl? I didn't, until I came out here. That's another thing I've remembered: the farm. Did your family on the walls ever talk about farms? They're strange places, like cities that grow of their own accord, with no governments and streetlamps and firemen to lasso it and make it perform. Out here, things burn because they don't think, not because they do. The trees don't think. They don't talk. They don't read the books made from them. They just are.
I was a tree, Millie. I was a tree, and they couldn't contain me. I burned and I burned, and I didn't think. And then one day I saw what I burned. And the rain came and the tree went out. And it frightened you, didn't I? It frightened you to see me not burn. We burned together, and we were happy, and I went and tore it all up. And you were scared. I'm sorry, Millie. I'm sorry I let you burn with me.
I won't mail this letter. I'll keep it with me, always. So that when the rains stop and the fire wants to come back, I can remember. Just like Chicago. Just like the farm. And the kerosene will trickle out and flow away.
Farewell, Millie. I hope that wherever you are, you've found your color again.