106: Letter Writing Campaign

on November 28, 2007 in 04: The Body Politick

In Which Mackenzie Fails To Rend The Hearts Or Souls Of Men

I decided to start my campaign by heading into the lounge and addressing whoever was in there. If I found any of my friends, I could explain to them what I wanted to do, and then maybe have a little bit of moral support. If it was somebody I didn’t know so well, I could sort of introduce myself and explain why I wanted to be their senator. I figured that was campaigning at its most succinct.

Iron resolve or not, I was really, really hoping to get up there and find nothing but friendly faces. It wouldn’t even have to be Amaranth and Two. I would have settled for Celia and Hazel, maybe, who I could count on to be assertive… or even Shiel the kobold, who I didn’t know that well but who I thought I could count on to be sympathetic to my goals.

When I got to the fifth floor, though, not a one of my allies potential or real was in evidence in the lounge. Twyla and the Leightons were at one end of the table, playing some sort of dice game. Honey sat sideways in one of the TV chairs, a notebook on her lap and a textbook in front of her, propped up on the armrest. Worst of all, Suzi and Maliko were on the couch watching TV. The lounge was clearly not the place to start.

What, then? Start literally knocking on doors? Okay, I’d planned on doing that, anyway… but I had thought I might be able to get some kind of momentum going first.

And what exactly would I say? I’d want to think of that in advance.

But what if I got a speech ready and they shot me down before I even opened my mouth?

For a lot of the people on the floor, the extent of our meaningful interaction had been back on the first night when we’d all introduced ourselves. What had I even said? “My name’s Mackenzie. I’m majoring in applied enchantment. I like to write.”

Whoo… what a great opener, huh?

Actually, now that I thought about it, it really kind of was…

I’d only mentioned writing because I couldn’t think of anything else. I hadn’t been about to admit that I loved Mecknights or read comics or that I liked to spend all my time gazing the ethernet. I hadn’t really done any serious writing for years, but at one point it had been my main outlet for creativity and stress relief. As terrible as I was at public speaking–or any kind of speaking–I knew I could at least string a sentence together if I was doing it on a page instead of out loud.

There probably wasn’t time to get a poster approved… or for me to get up the nerve to submit one to be approved… and anything I put up would probably be lost among the flurry of posters Sooni’s underlings had blanketed the hall with… and would probably be torn down or defaced by the same… but as far as I knew, there was no rule against sliding a note under somebody’s door. I could write up a campaign letter, or flyer, or whatever you wanted to call it, and scribe off a bunch of copies.

I hurried downstairs to put my plan into action. Though I could honestly say I was playing to my strengths, I was already wussing out a bit. If I put off actually doing it until after dinner, it would be so easy to decide to put it off until after the stupid bingo game, and then until the morning… so I would use the Harlowe Hall facilities.

It might be a little ironic, since they were only provided to help encourage the segregation I was supposed to be protesting, but I could always use the opportunity to verify that the “separate but equal” treatment really was equal.

As far as I could tell, they were. The crystal balls were all decent quality with up-to-date autoscribes and everything. Well, at least I could say I’d checked.

The letter only took me about fifteen minutes to put together, with a few revisions. It wasn’t exactly breathtaking prose that would rend the very hearts and souls of men with the passion of its words… but it didn’t suck, either.

Dear Fifth Floor Resident:

My name is Mackenzie Blaise. Chances are you don’t know me very well. Chances are you’ve heard about me, though… and I’m sure you’ve noticed the posters that some people put up about me.

What you might not know is that I took the time to put up some posters, too. They weren’t campaign posters, though… they were posters for Bingo Night, sponsored by the Campus Social Committee. Maybe Bingo Night isn’t exactly your idea of a wild time… or maybe it is. The point is, nobody even bothered to let us know it was happening.

Did you know that the CSC also put on a dance last Saturday? Did you see any notices for it? You wouldn’t have, if you looked at Harlowe. If you ask the CSC about it, they’d say their events are for everybody and they put up posters in all the dorms… but somehow, Harlowe seems to get lost in the shuffle.

Worse, missed dances and game nights are only part of the picture. Something is very wrong with this campus. Students who are different… who are less human or even look less human are expected to keep in our own little corner and just be grateful we’re allowed to be here at all.

The administration’s solution seems to be to make that little corner just as comfy as it can be. That’s no solution at all. Do you feel comfy?

If I’m elected to represent this floor in the student senate, I promise this: I won’t let our hall or its residents get lost in the shuffle.

-Mackenzie Blaise

There, I thought… that looks pretty good. I’d even made it through with only five sets of ellipses. My composition teachers had always dinged me for overusing them, for some reason.

Ellipses, and sentence fragments…

When I got ready to scribe it off, I had to stop for a moment and think about how many copies I needed to scribe off. My first inclination was to skip the rooms belonging to Sooni and her Nekos… and then I thought, did I really want to get close enough to Puddy and Mariel’s door to slip something beneath it? Then there was Belinda… I hadn’t really seen any of the skirmish team around the hall much, but as far as I knew, the half-ogress still had it in for me.

Then I realized that if I was going to start accepting my own excuses, I could probably talk myself out of giving anybody my little flyer. I’d make a copy for each room. No, for each student… and with that decision made, I erased the salutation from the top of the letter. I’d address each of my fellow students by name… and I’d make separate letters for Sara and Tara. Even ordinary twins got tired of having to share, right?

I didn’t make a letter for Barley, but… she wasn’t really in Harlowe anymore. That wasn’t an excuse. It was a fact.

I also erased my name from the bottom. If I was going to personalize them, I should probably sign them personally.

Filling in the names and signing the bottoms took almost as long as composing the letter had. For one thing, I had to stop and think about some of the girls’ names and how they were spelled. For another thing, I had no idea what the reptile woman’s name actually was or how to spell it, or if it even could be spelled using the Pax alphabet. I’d heard that her friends called her “Hissy”… well, if that was the only name I knew for her, I decided I didn’t really have a choice. Anyway, maybe she’d be like Dee and take the use of the nickname as an overture of friendship.

For that matter, Dee posed a separate problem. Dar… that is to say, her culture… was very particular when it came to names. I knew that it was considered terribly–sometimes, according to popular rumor, fatally–rude to omit the name of a highborn woman’s mother when you addressed them by name, hence “Delia Daella.” The familiar nickname seemed to obviate that, but would it be insulting to use it in a semi-official sort of capacity? Or would she be more insulted that I defaulted back to her proper name after having acknowledged her friendship?

In the end, I addressed her letter “Dear Dee,” figuring that if she was going to take offense, it would probably be better for her to take it against me as a friend.

I met Amaranth and Two in the stairwell on my way back up. Two let go of Amaranth’s hand and reached for mine even as she said her (pretty much literally) obligatory greeting. Amaranth, to her credit, didn’t seem bothered by this.

“Hi, Two,” I said. “Hello, Amaranth.”

“Hello, baby,” she said, giving me a kiss on the cheek. “Where have you been? We were just looking for you… I wanted to make sure you got dinner since I made you miss lunch.”

“Tonight is Bingo Night,” Two added.

“I remember,” I told her. I held up the stack of papers for Amaranth to see. “I’ve been campaigning,” I said. “Or getting ready to. I’ve got one of these for every student on the floor.”

“Oh, that’s good! But you should probably make separate ones for Sara and Tara,” Amaranth said. “They’d probably appreciate that.”

“That’s… um… a good idea,” I said. Well… it was.

“Do you want any help giving them out?” Amaranth asked.

“Um…” I said, wondering if there was any way I could hand her the entire stack and not be a total pussy.

“I would like to help,” Two said.

“That’s a great idea!” Amaranth said. “Mack, baby, give some of those to Twoey, and you can pass them out together. I’ll go on ahead and grab Steff, and then we can all head over for dinner.”

“Okay,” I said. I already had them stacked up in order of rooms, so I just gave Two the top half of the stack. I hadn’t really thought about it, but that was all the rooms on our side… which included most of our friends and excluded the doors I was the most nervous about approaching. Well, as much as I might have wanted to avoid Belinda, Sooni, or Puddy, I wasn’t about to trade places with Two.

“I’ll be back with Steff,” Amaranth said. “Have fun!”

None of the doors that my letters went with were open. I shot them through the gaps as quickly as I could, then hurried to join Two, who was placing hers individually with great care and deliberation, and a tremendous amount of satisfaction evident on her face… and… was it possible?

It sounded like she was humming.

Was she? I listened. On the one hand, there was a musical, humming-like sound which was distinctly coming from her. On the other hand… Two, humming?

“Two, are you humming?” I finally asked her as she slipped the second of the Leightons’ letters under their door.

“Yes. My friend Hazel says it makes work go faster,” she said, inserting Twyla’s copy. She stood up and looked around, as if to make sure nobody was listening. “She is mistaken,” she said, in a confidential manner. “It takes the same amount of time either way. I checked. But it’s still fun.”

She disposed of her last two letters and followed me as I headed back to the stairwell. I had it in my head that any moment doors would be flung open and I’d be accosted by outraged Harlowites demanding to know who I was to shove my trash under their doors. Stupid, I know, but there it was. I slowed down once I was safely out of the hallway and let Two take my hand again while we waited on the next landing down for Steff and Amaranth.

It was only when I heard their voices echoing up from below, talking about their favorite subject in mortifyingly loud voices, that I remembered what had happened earlier. As soon as I did, it seemed absurd that I could have forgotten for one moment the shock of learning that there were Arkhanites at the university… the bigger shock of learning how little anybody cared… and the biggest shock of learning how wrong my information had been. It certainly was absurd that I could have offended Steff so badly and then just sort of let it slip my mind.

It was absurd, but it had happened. It was like there were so many things happening in my life all at once, each one coming right on top of the last… was college like this for everybody? If so, how the hell did anybody manage to get through it?

I was trying to find the words to apologize and explain when Steff came around the corner. Two stepped forward in anticipation of the hug that was an essential part of Steff’s hello. I figured that gave me all of two extra seconds to figure out how you told somebody, “I’m sorry I trashed your belief system out of ignorance but now I know better,” but then she turned and gave me a hug and a kiss on each cheek, too, before turning back to Amaranth and resuming her conversation about the practical and ethical differences between bestiality and getting involved with somebody who has an animal form, and the four of us headed to dinner.

Okay, so maybe we weren’t going to have a big thing about it. I couldn’t claim to have a lot of experience, but I would have guessed this was the sort of thing that pulled friendships apart. But apparently, I was forgiven… just like that. Didn’t she even want to hear me say that I’d been wrong?

I wasn’t complaining, but I couldn’t pretend to understand it.

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3 Responses to “106: Letter Writing Campaign”

  1. Moody Mudiaga says:

    And worst of all…she saw Two but had already forgotten she got burnt by demon fire…attagirl Mack!

    Current score: 3
  2. Athena says:

    I’m really terrible with ellipses too… just, all the time. Also dashes – like so – and brackets. Sooooo much XD

    Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      I’m the same… they really are awesome – though I’m not certain what the real rules are.

      Current score: 0