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  • Christina Fotinelli

Dear Chester,

Every morning at 7am, Eustace Govern walks 3.4 miles to the Blue Jay Café opposite the local hospital. It’s an antiquity, like its elderly clientele, because it boasts computer stations. Eustace sits all alone engrossed in the screen, not speaking with anyone, save to order a black coffee when he arrives at 8am and a white coffee with a jam tart at 2.45pm before leaving at 5pm. A curious barista logged on to see what he was doing. Eustace’ search history revealed only one name, Chester B. Simkiln and saved on the desktop, he found this letter from Eustace, addressed to Chester.


Dear Chester,


You annoy me. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but I find you extremely annoying. I am actually annoyed at myself for finding you so annoying. I follow you on social media expecting to be less annoyed as I become more familiar with you, but it’s not to be. With every post, I inexplicably find myself even more annoyed than I ever have been. 


NEMESIS  [nem-ĭ-sis]


Do you know what nemesis means, Chester? Many people assume it only means a sinister opponent like Moriarty was to Sherlock or Batman to the Joker, Lord Voldermort to Harry or Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. But it’s much more than that.


The Oxford Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary defines nemesis as:

- The person or thing that causes somebody to lose their power, position, etc. and that cannot be avoided

- A person or thing that has competed with somebody or been an enemy for a long time

- Punishment or defeat that is deserved and cannot be avoided


The name Nemesis is derived from the Greek word νέμειν, pronounced némein meaning "to give what is due". (Nemesis - Origin and history of nemesis by Online Etymology Dictionary)


In Greek Mythology according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Nemesis was the Greek goddess of vengeance, a deity who doled out rewards for noble acts and punishment for evil ones. The Greeks believed that Nemesis didn't always punish an offender immediately but might wait generations to avenge a crime.”


So, when retribution was meted out, one may not remember what they are being punished for. In the myths and tragedies, those who suffered most from nemesis were the complacent, the overconfident, the excessively prideful, and the arrogant. These qualities, the ancient Greeks had in spades, until the Gods of Olympus firmly put them in their place.


And there you have it Chester, you annoy me because you’re an arrogant asshole, just like I was. And yet no harsh fate befell you. You continue to thrive with your annoying ways. But my life has ended. I suppose I could have spared you the mythology lesson and led with that but the truth is I’ve become used to being annoyed by you. I don’t get up to much these days, Chester. Not since Rose died. My kids hate me. They only put up with me because they loved their mom so much. My Rose, she she had a huge forgiving heart and an inexplicable capacity to love someone as rubbish as me.

 

I loved her so much and I miss her every day. But what did we just learn about divine retribution, Chester? You don’t know when it will come for you. Once the die is cast, you cannot avoid your fate, no matter what.


My nemesis was my wife’s cancer. I spend 11 months by her side, Chester. I was helpless, watching her suffer and in so much pain. In the hospital room just across the corridor, there you were with your wife. And I watched you. You shuffled in every morning with that annoying limp of yours and a few wilted flowers. As my Rose slipped farther and farther away from me, I saw you sitting by your wife’s side day and night. You read to her, you held her hand when she cried out, wiped the sweat away from her brow, as gently as you could. And you read her to sleep.


Sliding Doors


Three months ago we both left the hospital with our wives but we left through different doors, Chester. We bumped into one another. Do you remember me?  You were leading your wife by the hand, holding it so gently and with so much care. I was slumped in a chair as the machines stopped blinking and whirring and my Rose passed away. Your wife caught my eye and gave me a sad, kind smile. You avoided eye contact.


I am annoyed by you Chester, because I’m not you. My nemesis came for me and tore my life apart. The sin I’m paying for? Long forgotten.


I have a wish for you, Chester. Continue to annoy me with your good fortune. May your wife have good health and your children and grandhildren too.  Celebrate holidays, mark occassions, laugh together and rejoice in life together and post it all, Chester, ever last moment so I can follow you and be annoyed because that’s all that remains.


Yours sincerely,


Eustace Govern

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