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Anonymous Letters

In celebration of Halloween, a completely true story:

My name was handwritten on the envelope: “Ms. C. Bergman.” A New York postmark, no return address, no note. Inside, tear sheets from JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, a review of a new biography of the manic-depressive poet, Robert Lowell. It was interesting in many ways, most particularly in its assertion that to medicate mentally ill artists risks interfering with their creative process. But why had the sender underlined the words “mutely alone,” or bracketed the sentence, “The reigning assumption is that depression and anxiety are meaningless?" And why send it to me anonymously? Was one of my former students in trouble? A friend? Someone asking for help? Or was it meant to disturb my sense of well-being?

It wasn’t the first time I had received an anonymous letter, or been threatened, or denounced, or stalked. Years ago, in London, I’d written an investigative article for the educational supplement of The Times and received a threatening post card from the National Front. The—unknown someone—wanted me to go back where I came from. And I am not sure they meant the United States of America. Hell maybe? The police considered the message a form of “gentle” terrorism, if that isn’t an oxymoron. Most disconcerting: whoever had penned that sweet note knew my address. So, too, the person who sent me the most recent anonymous message.

Weeks have passed since I received the JAMA article and I have still not thrown it out, nor have I shown it to the police. Dear Anonymous Reader, it’s Halloween, the game of Hide and Seek is over. Come out, come out wherever you are! Patiently, I await a phone call, an email, a broomstick delivery by the Wicked Witch, or a middle-of-the night epiphany that will reveal you/the sender to me. Someone who might say, “Oh, I thought you’d be interested. Sorry if I spooked you in any way.”
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