Talking to Myself

by Tanielle Dlamini and Elias Weaver


Dear Future Jin, 

The kid’s fine—the stuffed baby lamb, I mean. You really should take him, though. He’s not looking too well. Then again what do I know? I’m just a kid. I can’t think for myself.

I don’t have anything to think about. Y’know?

I mean, I don’t have taxes, or rent, or a mortgage—I don’t even know what a mortgage is. I’m nothing right now. 

But the lamb is something. It had no life, yet it had something to live for. It made me happy, for a while. Maybe it’ll make you happy. 

You should take him to a better life. Stuff his pride again. Let him grow into a big strong sheep. Not a limp sack of stuffing that seems to be hanging on by threads. (Kind of like me.) 

But the kid for the most part looks fine, so I guess we’re fine.

How are you doing?,

Past Jin



Dear Past Jin,

Last night, I dreamed of a lamb. It was our old stuffed lamb, actually. Beautiful as the day we got it. It was running freely through a large field of purple flowers. 

I’ve never liked the color purple. Which sucks because I dyed my hair purple. It’s at the end of the rainbow, making me feel like it’s the end. Is it the end?

It rained ash on the lamb, choking up its poor, blackened lungs.

Maybe they could change them to mechanical lungs. Shiny, copper lungs would be perfect for that little lamb. They wouldn’t even know what was going on. They would just breathe destroyed air with their metal lungs.

I wish the lamb ran faster. They could’ve gotten away. I think I was running with it. God, my legs were moving fast. I was running. Running. Running from the purple flowers, and the ash rain, and those goddamn metal lungs. It was exhilarating.

Then I woke up.

I want to go back to that dream.

But I also don’t.

Dreams are confusing sometimes.

You Should Try Running Sometime,

Future Jin



Dear Future Jin,

Today’s my birthday! Unfortunately! I’m turning 13…

Mom and I are going to get ramen for everyone. Ramen is our favorite, remember? And so is red velvet cake! I’m so excited. I love celebrating my birthday because I get to be at the center of attention for the day and no one else does! Not in a mean way, of course, I still love my siblings.

Dad has been gone all day though… Mom tells me not to worry about it, so I guess I won’t.

That dream you wrote me about… it sounds terrifying. Why would anyone do that to our lamb? He doesn’t deserve it, and neither do you. What could you have possibly done to deserve metal lungs?

You should focus on the positive. Like how Raijin got into the college he wanted! And how Mom sings us happy birthday, and how good the ramen and cake taste.

Don’t worry. Asahi will be fine in middle school. We’ll be here with him, right? We’ll be a good big brother so he won’t have to worry about a single thing.

But Dad… he scares me sometimes. I catch him staring at me in such a creepy way, then he disappears. 

I hope he’s okay.

Now a 13-year-old,

Past Jin



Dear Past Jin,

I don’t remember the last time I’ve had ramen nor red velvet cake.

I don’t remember much, actually.

The headaches get in the way of everything. I try to sleep them off, but my dreams (nightmares, really) get in the way. 

They get weirder every time. But one thing stays the same. I’m always running. I’ve run from cheetahs, lions, giant spiders, hell, I’ve run in the Olympics.

The weirdest, though, was when I ran for President. There was no one running against me, just myself underneath that blinding white light. The crowd cheered my name. They loved me. Their one and only.

Somehow Dad won. 

He always wins.

I want to know his secret.

You should find it and tell me. Then run. Run like hell. Run, keep running, and don’t look back.

You Should Read To Kill a Mockingbird,

Future Jin



Dear Future Jin,

Those dreams sure are weird.

I mean, why would you ever be in a situation like those? I can’t even imagine running from a cheetah or lion—let alone a giant spider.

Maybe therapy might help.

I saw some therapy pamphlets lying around. Granted, those are for physical therapy, and this is mental. But you never know. People do say running clears the mind.

Maybe I should start running. You keep suggesting it.

Or maybe I should run for President like you did. But that takes time and I really don’t think I have any. 

My head’s been hurting lately. Like really bad. I try to sleep it off too, but I keep dreaming about waking up as an android, and not the cool kind.

Maybe I will read To Kill a Mockingbird. Hopefully, I start dreaming about them. I like mockingbirds. They’re pretty.  I just hope none die.

I think I’ve seen it on Dad’s bookshelf, but you know how he is—no one’s allowed within one thousand feet of him or his things. He’s so secretive, sometimes I think he’s planning something.

I could just take it for a little bit and then put it back. He’ll never know.

Maybe This Time We’ll Fly,

Past Jin

P.S. I found something behind the bookshelf.

P.P.S What did you get me into?



Dear Past Jin,

Dad never followed the rules. That’s how he won the election. He hacked it and then added his name. Gave himself more votes than me.

He won.

He always wins.

One day I want to win. Maybe, I’ll smile again.

We’ve always said “maybe”. Never  “will”. I don’t think we’ve ever tried. I don’t think we even knew. I hope you know now.

Start running. Don’t become me. Let me die. Live the life that we wanted.

You can run. You will run.

Dad never followed rules. All he did was keep secrets, lie, and cheat. That goddamned lying cheater.

He took everything from us. You can take it back. Steal it before he does. He doesn’t deserve it. He doesn’t deserve anything. Not his wife, his kids, or whatever sickening lab he has down there. 

Destroy it all. Get rid of it. 


Read Page 119,

Future Jin



Dear Future Jin,

“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Atticus said that. Dad didn’t listen to Atticus.

I should have listened to you sooner. I should’ve read the book sooner. The room behind the shelf was my least favorite part.

There were wires everywhere, wrapping around the wall like snakes. I wanted to claw at my neck (I wonder if this is how Mowgli felt). Everything felt wrong.

The door slammed behind me. I banged against it, I didn’t want to be here. The sound of metal against metal was all I heard. My arms felt heavy.

My head did too. The headache got worse and worse. Is this what dying feels like? Heavy and suffocating.
I’m trying to run. I just want to run, but my limbs are creaking. I can’t find any WD40, but even then, I don’t think that will work on bones. Because I am a human, who has bones. Not metal limbs that creak, like yours.

You left me a note in that book. 

Metal limbs are heavy. They hurt. They get rusty. They stop up. They are not fun. Run away while you still have your human limbs.

My android legs are too heavy. I can’t run anymore.

I’m Sorry, I Tried,

Present Jin