“My Dear Wilson,” the letter began.

“If you are reading this, then I have unfortunately passed beyond this life and onto whatever adventures await me in the next. I’m assuming that it was the sickness, the creeping malady that gets more bold with age, though in these days it seems that any number of things will attempt to bring an end to life. By this point a man in a suit has no doubt represented the firm of Liddy and Roth with the utmost professionalism and despite careful words and gentle tact still managed to turn your world completely upside down. A sudden unexpected inheritance will do that to a person. I expect that you will rally soon enough.”

“I feel that I can’t be certain how you will react to this eventuality. I have my suspicions, of course, based on what I know of you from our many conversations, but that is the downside to these sorts of relationships. I realize that you and I were never particularly close, and that that very lack of closeness is likely causing you no small amount of consternation at this point in time. You are probably wondering why someone like me would leave all of their worldly possessions to someone that they could not say they had a close relationship with. The answer is simple, though on the face of it I suppose rather sad. The truth is that there is no one else in my life that I would consider to be more worthy. Some people would consider this to be a sad situation, and I find at this stage in my life that I am at least occasionally among them, but I also feel that you at least will understand. I could be mistaken, and I apologize if I am, but I have the impression that this is a situation that we both have in common. To be connected to the world around us by only the most casual relationships, the most tenuous threads, is no way to live. If I am correct that this describes your life as well as my own I would encourage you to do that which I did not, before it is too late to do so, and form those stronger bonds.”

“This perceived kinship in loneliness is part of the reason I have left you the shop. Your profession is not one that lends itself well to forming social connections, and I have the impression that doing so was never a strong suit for you regardless, yet you have much to offer the world. I would not dictate your life, or in any way deplore your life’s work, but I would offer you this choice. Leave that work to those better suited for it, those that can perform the job without sacrificing their social connections, and those that genuinely would prefer to do so. Take up my place behind the counter and remove at least one obstacle from the path toward your eventual happiness.”

“Beyond that you were chosen because you above all of the people I casually know, have demonstrated a pure love for the written word. You, I feel, can truly appreciate the importance of running such a place. Many would be tempted to shut the shop down, convert it to something more profitable. While this would be understandable, and I could not blame you if that was the route that you followed, I also feel that it would be a loss for the community. The word should be allowed to thrive. I believe that you will be of a similar mind in this regard. If you choose to take up operating the shop yourself, and I encourage this, you will find a box under the register that contains everything you should need. It does not earn much, this has always been the case, but it should be enough to get by.”

“I wish you the best of luck, Wilson. This is a turning point for you, you have two paths you can choose from. You can continue on with your life as you already are, bolstered somewhat in income with the sale of the assets I have left you. If this is your choice you have my blessing, and you may consider it a gift from me in thanks of our many conversations. You could also choose to change your life, take up what is left of mine and make it your own. Hopefully you will fare better at it than I did, and can use it along with the wisdom of my hindsight to reach a place that is better than either of us has yet achieved.”

“In the end I find that I have always considered you to be more of a friend than a customer, and that if I had not been so set in my ways by the time we met I would likely have made more of an effort to truly know you, and let you know that as well. Hindsight again, bringing the mistakes of the past into the open. Even realizing this I find it difficult to break out of my routines and do so. Likely I have seen you several times since I wrote this, gods be willing, and hopefully I have managed to bring some of these thoughts up in conversation, but knowing my tendencies our relationship will no doubt remain unchanged by the time you read this letter. Maybe I will be able to change that, and will be required to rewrite this before my passing. Maybe you will begin to see that change before I can do so, and you will read this with some confusion. Life is strange that way. Either way, I urge you to avoid these mistakes, do not wait until old age to find friendship.”

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