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Penny Fehr
General Delivery
Ft. St. John

Dear Pete

Excuse me for not writing sooner but things here have been either too boring to write about or hectic.

I'm in the process of packing to move and I've run out of boxes so I've got some time on my hands and news to write.

RATS! This place is infested with rats! I hate rats! I didn't know how much until they began to take over. It began a month ago with one invading our cabin. I flipped out and Sam wasn't all that keen on taking on the brown monster when it scuttled under our bed. UGH! I grabbed Sam and we went for a long walk, leaving the door open. It worked, the rat left. Have you ever seen those huge ugly wharf rats? The motel has a dump a short walk away. We're told to wash our bottles out and burn our empty cans before taking them to the garbage heap. Some people aren't doing that and the rats moved in. The mound of refuse pinks and clunks with rat noises and it gives me the creeps. The worst thing happened last week. I took a bag of trash to the burn barrel and was about to set in on fire when a monster RAT jumped up at me! Now I take a big stick and beat the barrel before I put anything in. In Kitimat, black bears knocked over the garbage cans in the fall and we even had a skunk move into our crawlspace one spring to give birth but they were nothing compared to a rat infestation. I can barely sleep and have nightmares about them biting my face or giving me the plague. I check Sam every day for fleas too. I don't know what I would do if I found one. ICK! I think snakes are okay and I like spiders but rats are horrible!

John says there are no rats where we are going. He says there was a purge of them because of a grain infestation. My dad said no rat in their right mind would live up north. I don't care who is right, I just want to get out of here and away from them.

John took me to my first rodeo in Terrace two weeks ago. It was great! Bronco busting, brahma bull riding, barrel racing, calf roping. They even had a wild cow milking and greased pig contest. The wild cow milking is hilarious. Cowboys have to catch a cow, milk it and race with the bucket to the finish line. If they spill the milk, or the cow kicks the bucket over they have to start again. That weekend John bought me a pair of gold earrings in the shape of tiny wagon wheels. He said it was a thank you for not complaining and putting up with living here while he paid off the debt. I didn't know I had any choice but it was nice of him to do that.

In your last letter you mentioned me getting married so young. I was pregnant. Quite a few girls in Kitimat went through the same thing as me. Some didn't get married but left town for a few months and came back to continue school. I could have done the same. He isn't a boy I knew from school, he's 24 and I met him at a loggers' day at Lakelse. He didn't have to marry me. When the girls in my school found out I was getting married they were such phonies. They'd never talked to me about anything and all of a sudden they began to approach me asking me all sorts of stupid questions. Saying stuff like - how romantic - what a surprise - where did you meet him - why are you getting married. Idiots! They just wanted the gossip so I gave it to them. I told them I was pregnant just like their friends Sheila, Donna and Paulette. They left me alone after that. I'm not pregnant any more. The baby was born too soon and was too small. It upset my parents a lot. My mom never said anything to me when the baby was born dead. John doesn't talk about it either. It was really for the best, I guess. So now you know why.

I am wondering if you had a dream or not. Was this thing at the house a seance? Witchcraft. I don't know anything about that but have had some weird things happen in the forest when I'm there alone. Once, I slipped on a log while crossing a ravine and I didn't fall but don't remember why. My brother and I tried a Ouija board once. Nothing happened. My dad says if you go looking for something, chances are you'll find it. That doesn't explain stuff that slips in and slaps you though. Lots of that goes on in the woods and I was never looking for it. I was usually busy picking huckleberries and listening for bears. There are spirits in the bush but they're sneaky. I think they belong to the indians. In Grade 8 The village chief's daughter Joyce gave a speech about her people and their customs. All about whale hunting, salmon, herring, cedar totem poles, grandmothers, legends, shamans and spirits. It was magic and I'll never forget it. She sounded like she belonged here and made me feel like I'd come from nowhere special.

Jackfruit? I've never even heard of that. Must be like that breadfruit I read about in novels. The only tropical fruits I know about are pineapple and coconut. Do they grow spices, tea or coffee in the Philippines? I love the exotic smell of spices, especially nutmeg.

I got a letter from Magda yesterday. It was two sentences long. I haven't heard from you in ages. Why don't you write me? I should write her a letter back saying - ditto.

We are leaving at the end of the week and should be in Ft. St. John in three days. John wants to stop at his mom's to pick up his horse. We won't be going through Kitimat but I saw my folks last week. They came up on a trip and brought their friend Mrs. Bateman. She and her four kids used to live with us when her husband was looking for work. They are from Burma and she taught my mom how to make curry. Mrs. Bateman is my most favourite adult in the whole world! She has a beautiful accent and used to tell wonderful stories about wild cats, mongoose - mongeese? and cobras in India. Would you believe a king cobra slithered over her son when he was a baby sleeping on a blanket in their yard? Listening to her was like reading Rudyard Kipling stories. She'd never seen a tiger though. Do you have big cats in your country? I wonder if I'm an adult now I'm married. How do you know when you're an adult anyhow? I'll have to ask John about that when he gets home.

My next letter will be from my new home. I will be so glad to get out of here and leave the RATS. I've put my new address at the top of the letter. We will probably get a post office box when we get there.

Thanks a lot for writing me Pete.

Yours truly


Dear Penny,

I had a dream that night. I would call that my introduction to mysticism, something my family got so baffled about. Tatay already left for Bahrain and he wouldnít know what I am going through. Only my Nanay and Robin, and perhaps Jamil who is already twelve years old and maybe understands a bit of whatís happening.

That night I waited to be alone in the dining room. Marius assured me that he would be doing the same ritual at midnight. I took out the small piece of paper which he gave me and read what he had written. The words had been in Latin and nothing seemed to make sense to me. I lit a candle and looked around to make sure no one else was in the room, Marius told me casting spells might be harmful to other living things who could be present while it is being done. He said I am a natural and it wonít be difficult for me to perform the craft.

I also burned three incense sticks; they represent the air where dreams exist. As was instructed I relaxed my mind by counting from fourteen down to one. I then cast an invisible pentacle circle to surround me before I could recite the Latin spell.

It did work Penny. I will remember that moment for as long as I live. When I woke up next morning, beside Robin in our bedroom, I didnít remember leaving the dining table nor cleaning up my mess. But I did remember my dream; it was so vivid I could feel the leaves and branches of trees brushing against my face and shoulders as I ran after Marius going up the hill of Santos Calvarios. I recalled how, with every few steps forward, he would look back and smile at me. Waking up, I had the urge to jump out from bed to run and break the news to Marius about the triumph of my first try on white magic. Only I held myself back and presumed he surely knew because he should have experienced the same dream.

Nothing was the same about me since then. I practiced the Old Religion like it was as important as my studies. I donít recall if I ever failed, I religiously followed Mariusí instructions.

I thought of Mary Jean and the possibility of making her fall in love with me. Since I knew her from three years ago in school I already pursued her but she just wouldnít glance my way. For me sheís the prettiest besides the fact that sheís also intelligent. I asked for Mariusí help but he turned me down. He explained he doesnít want to be interfering with peopleís love life. So I worked my way to creating my own spell, trying everything, repeatedly reading Mariusí books. That was when my Nanay found out what I was doing. I didnít really notice, Penny, but my mother is saying I seem to no longer be my old self. Nanay started to shun Marius and forbid me to attend any of the sťances (yes you call it that, Penny) anymore. She even pleaded that I just go back to attending Sunday masses at the Catholic Church in Dolores. I tried to put up with what she wanted but I donít know, this thing I started somehow have a fierce control on me I began to have health troubles. Something seems to give me the message that I am going to die if I stop.

Now school is nearly over and I am still being left behind with my studies. My father left for abroad with heavy feet because I am bedridden. The Junior-Senior prom passed and I didnít even see Mary Jean in her beautiful gown, bitter that she was escorted by another guy in our class and not by me.

I feel my life is miserable, Penny, and that worse I blame myself for everything thatís happening. Thereís even the danger I might graduate without honors.

I am sorry I missed answering some of your questions. I guess I should just write another letter tomorrow to be mailed alongside this one. I am still weak till now. My mother took me to the doctor this morning and I was diagnosed to have bronchopneumonia. I feel bad, Penny, I have to go back to sleep now.


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The following comments are for "Pen Pals - Part 3"
by PeteandPen

Post Script
Dear Penny,

Like what I promised, I enclosed this smaller chunk of letter to answer your few questions:

Have I ever seen such huge ugly rats? One fell on our heads as my brothers and I were watching TV. My mother sprinkled some Dora in some corners of the house before a few had died in front of us as we eat dinner, some scuttled like mad across our living room while everybody screamed (well, excluding me because I am not much frightened by such creatures). Hey wait, fleas scare me more than rodents do.

Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, reaching 80 pounds in weight and up to 36 inches long and 20 inches in diameter. The exterior of the compound fruit is green or yellow when ripe. The interior consists of large edible bulbs of yellow, banana-flavored flesh that encloses a smooth, oval, light-brown seed. The seed is 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and is white and crisp within. There may be 100 or up to 500 seeds in a single fruit, which are viable for no more than three or four days. When fully ripe, the unopened jackfruit emits a strong disagreeable odor, resembling that of decayed onions, while the pulp of the opened fruit smells of pineapple and banana.óThis I didnít write but copied from my Science textbook.

Spices? Laurels and atsuete or annatto. Nutmeg I havenít tried nor seen anywhere here.

Alamid or civet cats we do have, but they are almost extinct here in our mountains, maybe there are more in other parts of the Philippines.

How does one know if heís already an adult? I think early marriage and huge responsibilities make one an adult. Being away from your parents makes you an adult. I have been away from them for six years; I felt so much like an adult then when I was just six years old. What did John tell you anyway?

Okay, I hope I havenít left any stones unturned. I will look forward to your reply.

Your friend,

Sta. Lucia, Dolores
Quezon Province

( Posted by: peterpaulino [Member] On: October 21, 2004 )

I loved the part about the 'rodeo' very much! I think that part's so funny. Everything in your letter in fact, Pen, I just loved so much. You write with honesty here especially at the mention of why you married early. Hey, Pete could ask Marius hex the girls who are annoying Penny :)

( Posted by: peteandpen [Member] On: October 21, 2004 )


This stuff is so real that I cringe to read it as private letters. The FYI info bits are fun. What is the point if it's THIS good?



( Posted by: Teflon [Member] On: October 21, 2004 )

Somehow having all these written here make me feel every single thing that happened in my life is meaningful. I guess Penelope feels the same way too. Thank you Tef for taking the time to read and comment. :) Hey, I notice your Tweety is exclusive to this thread?

( Posted by: PETERPAULINO [Member] On: October 21, 2004 )

A long way to go, Pen, for us to fill the gap from then to now. How amazing to look back and find out how different and still the same we are from what we were before?

( Posted by: peterpaulino [Member] On: October 21, 2004 )

Wow! That was such a hardwork you just did, reading everything from the first to this part. I would like to thank Pen for doing most of the work when it comes to editing and posting, she too was the one who chose the cute little avatar.

The first two I would admit had been very hard for me to write, but on this one I just let things be. Like what I told Pen this was the part I hated telling people about, a point in my life when I was on the verge of insanity. I would also like to give credit to Carol (CJHerlihy), after having read her autobiographical writings and her Exposed interview, I became less afraid to bring up this subject of lunacy-mysticism in this collab.

Thanks Tina. :)

( Posted by: peterpaulino [Member] On: October 21, 2004 )

Thank you very much for reading! You know, writing something that's based on facts is quite hard. It is taking us time before going to the next parts because we really have to weigh things if they are as accurate (am I saying this corerctly, Pen?). In my parts, I changed only a few names and none else. I only couldn't think of a name to use in place of Mary Jean ~ that's her real name.

And hey, I couldn't promise that this will be like Pleasantville as much as I wanted it to be...

( Posted by: peterpaulino [Member] On: November 26, 2004 )

I enjoyed the format. Reading them in the form of letters seems as though I'm being a naughty little boy and spying on ones mail.

( Posted by: DrBlack [Member] On: November 27, 2004 )

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