Chapter 6The Case for a Pen Pal

Only connect.

E. M. Forster, Howard’s End

Kayla’s pregnancy and postbirth incarceration in 2013 breaks me of my nostalgic fondness for letters. The urgency of the situation—the baby—strains the space between us, and at this overcrowded prison letters take three weeks to be processed upon arrival. I am dropping envelopes in the mail slot with a kind of reckless uncertainty, knowing that many of my messages will fall useless into Kayla’s lap, bearing outdated questions or now-irrelevant tips. But as our correspondence continues, I begin to think: The reason I once loved writing to Kayla was because it offered a chance for deep, sustained communication—a communication that doesn’t usually happen between people who ...

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