Aaron Samuels, Letter From Octavia Butler to Rabbi Moses Maimonides

Dearest Rambam,

You don’t know me. But I wanted to tell you, I get it: why you couldn’t stop at just one book, because then they call you crazy. But we know better. You have to keep writing until the aliens are angels, until their tentacled skin slides every suction cup right off the binding. Then it’s not a story anymore. It’s a vampire. Sink your teeth into their eyeballs. Then they will see: it’s a nebula, spinning dust all over the library. It’s dirty work we do. That’s how our skin got so black, do you remember? When you first went back in time?

I took a quill pen and levered it underneath my left foot, pulled it straight out of my nostril. That’s how it feels to go back to the mountain where it all started, where you first started etching stories into your tongue. It won’t kill you. But that don’t make it ok: a whip that is: straight to the lamb’s meat of your back. A whole shipment, the tractor beam wasn’t big enough for all of those whips, all of those boats, and muskets.

We had to walk all the way up the mountain to get them. My feet were covered in blood and babies. But someone had to out-crazy the crazy demon monster mountain men. Someone had to pluck the hairs off of their fingers one by one and draw the stories in the stone. Thank you for the stone.

Thank you for having the audacity to tell the truth! You are a truth teller! You gave me the strength to tell my stories as they actually happened, bleeding every page. We can laugh at them now. Now that they called us geniuses! Who’s crazy? Not us. Not when we know how ridiculous it is to be black: so crazy that we must be time traveling insect monsters. We must be demons and aliens, with green skin and a penchant for symbiosis. We must have stumbled upon two magic stones at the top of a mountain that told us we were the chosen people!

Or else, what other reason could there be? What other way can we justify what happened to us, again and again? Where could all of those scars possibly have come from?

There is no other explanation.

Yours Forever,