Alexis Crossing

So, having recently shared the story of Peanut (a love story across time, space, death and reality), let me tell you about Barold.

Barold is … well. He’s generally considered one of the ugliest villagers available in Animal Crossing. And given he’s kind of a bear with a neckbeard … it’s … okay, I don’t want to judge, but it’s not a good look, dude. Also, in my game, he randomly asked me for a T-shirt and the only thing I was willing to squander on Barold was this unfortunate pastel item with a creepy pink elephant face on it. So now he’s wearing that unremittingly. And looks, there’s no way of putting this nicely, like he spends all day in a basement, arguing on the internet and complaining about SJWs ruining the world.

Now I have discovered the power of Animal Crossing Amiibo cards, I keep meaning to ask him to move out. And keep failing to do so. Because he was one of my first villagers. And sometimes when life deals you a sex offending bear with a neckbeard you … make lemonade? Look, I guess I somehow got fond of him. He’s not Peanut, don’t get me wrong, but he’s no Paula either. Also if I make two bears move out of my village, people are going to think I’m a bear racist.

Part of the reason I’m having trouble getting rid of Barold is that he can be unexpectedly sweet. A totally (as far as I can tell) pointless feature of Animal Crossing is that you can write letters to your villagers, and send them gifts, a process that does actually entail laboriously tapping out a message to a creepy bear with your 3DS stylus like the saddest human being imaginable. Anyway, the other day, Barold was like “Hey, M, look at this” and he showed me a letter  I’d sent him way back when. And it was, frankly, really embarrassing because the letter said something like “I can’t believe I’m writing a letter to a fake bear in a computer game. You look creepy but I guess I like you” and also it was a frankly unnecessary reminder that I’d written real words to a fake bear. “This is first the letter you ever sent me,” went on Barold, blinking at me through his broad coverage neckbeard. “I’ll treasure it.”

Which … got me thinking about letters. Now, I’m not actually one of these “oh ah the lost art of letter writing” type people. I like communication to be as technological effective as possible and there’s no reason that emails can’t be like letters, if you treat them as more discursive and less logistical.

Except. Except.

Letters are kind of nice, aren’t they?

And I honestly can’t remember the last time I received one (I mean, that wasn’t a bill, a pizza flyer or a notification of works from National Rail) or sent one. There’s definitely part of me that resists the whole letter-writing thing as profoundly unnecessary. But there’s another part of me that is drawn to it precisely because it is unnecessary. Not in a OATLAOLW way but just because unnecessary things accumulate their own meanings.

All of which is to say, I’m embarking on an, um, letter-writing project. The basic idea goes like this:

If you would like to receive a letter from me (hand-written, old school style, on pretty paper, the whole works) then you can sign up to … well… I’m calling it Alexis Crossing. Because I thought that was cute. Obviously you’ll have to trust with me a name and address,  which might be a deal breaker for some people, and that’s totally cool.

I’ve designed a really quick form that asks for the relevant information, as well as inviting you to ask me a question (any question, doesn’t have to be about me or anything like that) and—optionally—tell me something (again, this doesn’t have to be a deeply personal revelation about your soul, although it can be if you like).

Then, I’ll pick randomly from the list, drop you an alert to say to keep an eye on the post (and make sure you haven’t moved house or whatever) and send you a letter.

I can’t tell, at this point, if this is cool or weird. And I definitely don’t expect you to come up to me in fifty years and pull a Barold.

But yes, in summary. If you would like a random letter with hard-to-read handwriting, probably on unicorn paper, from me click here to sign up.

I’m going to run this pretty much continuously until I get bored or everyone else does, so you can sign up whenever. My planned timetable is one letter a month but in the unlikely event of demand outstripping supply I can speed things up.

Oh, I should also say, there are no geographical limitations here. If you can get mail, I’m good to send it.

And, while I remember, in the next couple of days I’ll be sending out a newsletter, which will include a free download of My Last Husband, a short story in which I attempt to do horror.

Although, honestly, it’s more like mildly unpleasant, this is me we’re talking about. My idea of horror is not being able to find a matching sock or someone putting tea in the microwave.

But err, sign up if you haven’t already and it’s a thing you’re interested in.

And loooooooook at the cover.

Ah, you came. I’m so glad. Give me your hand—why look at this, you still have paint beneath your fingernails. Oh, don’t apologise. It’s charming. Would you care for champagne? It’s a very special vintage, from a walled vineyard near Chouilly in the Cote de Blancs. Do you like it? Such a heavy sweetness, don’t you think? Like butter and gold. I can take you out there, if you want. It’s quite a wonder: the same land, held by the same family for nearly five hundred years. Though, of course, it’s mine now.



40 Responses to Alexis Crossing

  1. You don’t want to know how many passionate letters I wrote to Angus to keep him from leaving my little town… And how many apples and oranges and cherries I sent to him with the letters.

    • I am constantly thwarted by the lack of cherries in my town. I have every other fruit, but do the villagers care? Oh no. They’re always coming up to me demanding cherries. *curses the darkness*

      I have Angus now, I think he’s settling in. I like to think he’s your Angus, who has moved. He seems a nice, um, bull man person? I mean, he’s slow to warm up to you, but the other day he asked me to bring him a dragonfly for his niece, so he’s obviously deeply caring on the inside.

      Unfortunately, he lives right next to door to Hippeux who is … a very unpleasant character, though I like him. He swans around in a waistcoat like he owns the place, and talks about how handsome he is all the time. Also he had big fight with Angus over the phrase “straighten up” (I assume because Hippeux is a queer hippo) and while I think Hippeux was in the right, Angus got a sad raincloud and then wouldn’t talk to me (or anyone) because “he had to think.”

      I guess he was dealing with being confronted by his straight male bull privilege for the first time.

  2. Eli says:

    *raises hand* I’ve definitely written letters on Animal Crossing and had them reappear and felt weirdly… weird about it. 😛

    Also I’m secretly pleased that your idea of horror is someone putting tea in the microwave.

    And I can’t wait for the story. <3

  3. Jeanne says:

    Ah, a level of horror I can sort of deal with. My baby sister was a princess whose idea of a great day was one where she had to change clothes multiple times. She now has dementia and I was horrified to note that she was wearing mismatched socks a week ago. It gives me shivers thinking about it because she would be horrified if she could notice. Nevertheless I’m not sure I can handle even your idea of horror which will be very well and convincingly written.

  4. Lennan Adams says:

    I have a letter from you that I treasure and I will definitely pull it out and awkwardly show it to you in 50 years. This is a great and super sweet idea. I wrote one letter in AC and felt suuuuper weird about it lol. And I personally like Barold’s neck beard.
    The cover for TLH is really gorgeous and with the title it is very foreboding and perfect for Halloween.
    You should creepily read it to us!!! <3

  5. EmmaT says:

    It is funny how much everyone loves receiving ACTUAL LETTERS but also doesn’t want to do the writing themselves. I’m guilty of that. This to say, what a great idea!

    • Yes, the project would probably be bit less appealing if I was like HEY, WRITE TO ME! 😉

      • Jeanne says:

        I find the idea of writing an old fashioned letter to you appealing tho when it came down to actual writing I would procrastinate and probably never actually write it. I have a friend who moved back to Hawaii some years back and have yet to write her tho she might actually be interested in hearing from me.

  6. Lotta says:

    I think it’s really amazing that your reaction to how nice it is to receive letters and that we basically don’t anymore is to offer to send out letters. I still feel kind of sad that you didn’t get our Rita congrat card package (my card had Rita Hayworth! And a whale! And a quote from For Real! I wish I had taken a photo of it.)

    I do keep letters, like the ones from my nan, who I loved and dearly miss, and who mostly wrote about everyday things like the weather and my cousins or my siblings.

    I think you will probably get more requests than you imagined when you first came up with this idea. I’m not very good at letters, because I have to fight my inner voice that tells me that nobody’s really all that interested in what I have to say (which I absolutely know isn’t true, but, y’know.) It’s much the same as posting comments on a blog, basically 🙂

    • I’m also sad – it was such a lovely thing for you all to have done. I honestly feel terrible about it, to this day. I assume it’s sitting in a corner of a dusty Royal Mail depot somewhere *cries*.

      I think most people have an inner voice telling us things like that – hell, I have it about *writing* blog posts but I basically do my best to ignore it and babble on card games regardless. But I always love hearing from you, for what it’s worth <3

      Also I'm pretty sure my letters will probably wind up being about the weather 😉

  7. Beej Jansen says:

    Teabag in microwave is bad enough to be Trumpism!

    Hope short story not as creepy as My Last Duchess, am I a wuss that I was scared by a poem?

    • I find that poem legit terrifying, to be honest. In a weird way it is probably *less* creepy because making things more explicitly fucked up sometimes has the opposite effect. But still. If you find that poem horrifying, this may not be the story for you.

  8. Maarja says:

    I still have the handwritten postcard you sent a while ago, and I’m definitely keeping it. 😉 I’m not much of a letter writer myself, having a horrible handwriting, but it is nice to receive them. But surprisingly, the letters I don’t have anymore and miss the most are e-mails that I lost when I switched to a normal e-mail provider instead of some teenage foolishness, we wrote extremely long e-mails to each other with my best friend in school when she was abroad for a year, and I’d love to re-read them now. Anyway, I think it’s a wonderful idea to do this letter writing thing – though, since I already have one from you, I might refrain from signing up this time, to give the opportunity to others. Unless I come up with a really cool topic I want you to write about. 🙂

    The horror story sounds intriguing, and I’m equally horrified by tea (especially with a teabag!) in a microwave!

    • Yes, one can definitely have too many letters from me – and I *also* have horrible handwriting, something I did not properly contemplate when embarking on this project.

      I can remember treating emails basically like instant letters when I was a teenager and, actually, through university life. And I can remember sending reams of virtual paper to H back in the day. But I guess as communication becomes every more instaneous (a good thing) email grows closer to IM and further from letters. I am basing that on nothing but random perception. It may be just as much a function of your context as anything.

      • Maarja says:

        Hehe, I do not think I could have too many letters from you. 😉 I just wouldn’t want to steal the privilege of getting even one letter from someone who doesn’t have any yet… And your handwriting is not horrible!

        I did treat e-mails as virtual letters as well, especially when I was studying abroad myself and (gasp!) there was no internet in the home I was living in! So I wrote looong letters in Word and copied them into e-mails to send from the university library on the next day… But now, even my e-mail is mostly full of bills and spam, and almost all communication happens on Skype or FB Messenger. Which, as you said, is not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I really want to look at some old communication with someone and reminisce, and that is way too hard to do in IM apps. 🙁

  9. Annie Crow says:

    Oh wow, I love letters, both writing and receiving. I’m so grateful that I have a few friends who feel the same way about letter writing as I do. One lives in the same city as me and yet our main form of communication is finding neat cards for each other and sending them.

    I’m fascinated by this whole Animal Crossing business, I can see my youngest getting into it when he’s old enough.

    Tea in the microwave is just wrong.

    • I have had letter-friends in the past, but I think … actually I don’t know what happens. I guess you get busy? Or rather, I do. And I’m often quite bad with emails so probably trying to get me to maintain a written correspondence would be a disaster.

      I’m glad to have intrigued you with the strangeness of Animal Crossing 🙂

  10. Jeanne says:

    I’m so old I remember when letters were the only reasonably priced means of communication between people who lived apart. Now my email is largely spam plus daily news summary emails. Anything of a personal nature is likely to be overlooked. Most personal communications are mobile phone texts. But hunting through cards I used to buy for one to send a friend, I found cards, envelopes, and postcards I used to make and had forgotten about. I love the tiny computer I carry with me but miss those other things as well.

    • Yes, I think in the ideal world we would have both, but I think it’s too easy for the convenience of computers to supersede everything else. Which is not a “omg, technology is evil” stance because I really love technology.

  11. Sophie says:

    I have a younger friend who is currently at a boarding school in Utah where part of the school’s ethos is that the teenagers have no access to phones and only minimal access to the internet, so we actually write letters to each other relatively often. I think the funny thing about letters is that because they take so much more effort to create and send than a text message, their content becomes simultaneously more profound and less representative of the things you would ordinarily talk about.

    Anyway, your idea of a letter-writing project is super exciting, and really generous of you. And I’m so looking forward to the short story tomorrow!

  12. Purba Falgunii says:

    This short story is creepy enough to make me wait two days to start rereading. It reminds me your other short story: Wintergreen. Will there be a collection of short stories?

    About making tea in microwave (typing with one hand because I have my microwave-made dark roast coffee in other hand): How else I will make tea? 🙁 I make all kind of hot drinks in microwave: even lentil soup.

    • Oh thank you – I’m really happy you … liked it? It did what was intended. It’s definitely got a tonal similarity with Wintergreen (including use of the second person, which I understand is really bad writing, bwhahahaha).

      Also Wintergreen contains a very useful guide to making tea – you don’t have to do it while dressed in an amazingly restrictive gown though.

      • Purba Falgunii says:

        hahahaha! you got me there. I was reading Wintergreen and thinking even if we remove the china and the dress from the picture, if it is me, something/someone probably will get killed or badly injured (unintentionally :)). I am as graceful as a tractor in a kitchen: keep bumping/tripping on air. My husband is super graceful but cooks three times a year.

        Another reason of making drinks in Microwave is: I am too lazy to wash a kettle/teapot. washing/dish-washing mug is easier. Also I am too lazy to embrace another caffeine culture. in Canada it is mostly coffee.

        Back home, we used to drink all day. But preparation totally depends on the contents we are running out: boiling tea in water or milk.

        There are at least two temporary tea shops at each corner of a road. They just keep boiling tea in a kettle of water all day and occasionally add water/leaf. There is a rumour that the tea come from deadbody-preserving tea to keep things cheap. But after a long insane hot day, stuck in traffic, avoiding eye contact (because gentlewomen dont drink tea from roadside shops), drinking one cup cooling (because rapid rain drops in the cup) of tea from those shops quickly( because traffic can un-stuck any moment) it tastes amazing.

        Anyway, enough horror stories for one day 🙂 Also even if I boil water in the microwave, I never brew coffee/tea there. I have my standards 🙂

  13. I have recently moved house, and CANNOT FIND MY AC CARTRIDGE! If I do, I will send you my fc and you can come to my town and harvest cherries, provided some bonehead hasn’t destroyed the orchard while building a house ob top if them. You realize this is a big deal when it occurs to you that as a result I may find Paula or Barold in my town someday.

    • Oh no. That sounds really traumatic. I have a directly downloaded version so I can literally never lose my copy of Animal Crossing.

      And I would, um, love to come harvest your cherries.

      You are, in return, very welcome to visit the appalling carnage of my own town. You will be safe from Paula, as she has been kicked to the kerb. But not Barold.

      Hippeux is the best though. He is the gayest hippo ever.

  14. Sheila Lundlee says:

    I’m not sure I can handle any level of horror story at the moment. I live in the United States and…Trump. My coping skills are maxed 🙁 I very much look forward to reading your horror story after the insanity has stopped and I’ve had a recovery period.


    P.S. I adored the Spires set and you came highly recommended by one of my favorite authors – Suzanne Brockmann

  15. Sherry Lynn says:

    Oh dear, did I miss the chance to sign up? The link just took me to the email newsletter sign up.

  16. Kate says:

    Hi Sherry Lynn,

    Try the link a bit further up- it takes you to a google doc.

    Also I’m going to stick my neck out and defend tea in the microwave. Obviously it’s sub-optimal but when a whole cup gets cold and a teeny blast will regenerate it…? Still no?

    • Molly Frances says:

      Kate – you are quite right. The only acceptable time to microwave tea *is* when you’ve forgotten about it and it’s gone that weird luke-warm and unpleasantly tepid temperature. But even then, I always feel a little bit dirty after

  17. Gosia says:

    You do realize that you can bring water to the boiling point at least in 3 different ways (including stove top), right? Yes, microwaves are one of them. Is there some special ritual I am not aware of or just purring the boiling water over a tea bag?

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