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Please Send Proust

By Kit Mas

June 7th

Lake Perigo, Minnesota

Dear Mother,

          I believe there has been some mistake. You had promised that I was attending the George Sand Summer Camp for Precocious Children Dedicated to 19th Century Literature.

          This is not that camp. These nine- and ten-year-olds seem abnormally normal.

          On the bus ride, I was alerted to the  error as a chorus of ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall was being bellowed by my peers with more enthusiasm than a Munich biergarten during Oktoberfest. 

          Worse, I see father has removed from my suitcase my first volume of  Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” and replaced it with a pair of "sports shoes" (I thought my suitcase felt lighter).

          Upon said discovery, my heart dropped to my stomach.

          Please resolve the camp mix up and send my Proust.

          Your puzzled son,




Lake Perigo, Minnesota


          You have deceived me! After multiple appeals to the camp authorities, I have been assured that there was no mix-up and that this is the camp you intended me to attend…for two months!

          Also, I received Father’s note explaining his desire that this camp will help me become more like a normal child and make new friends.



          Please inform father that his insistence that I become normal at the age of nine is no more likely than his becoming a good father at the age of fifty-two. I suggest that ship has sallied forth, and normality is something you opted out of when you read me Balzac every bedtime since I was three (what doesn’t that man understand?) or the later works of Victor Hugo!

          As for friends, I have searched…

          There is not a single soul here who shares my interest in literature of any kind, Bach, French poetry, watercolors, or collecting multi-dimensional stamps from Malaysia.

          Not one!

          In fact, I have done a statistical analysis, which mathematically takes into account my interests aligned to those of the normal nine-year-old child, and you can inform father that, based on my thorough analysis, there is a negative 2.4 chance that I will make a friend. In fact, there is only a 1.4 chance in 100 that I will even make a casual acquaintance.

          Our lives are not normal, and while I appreciate the desire to turn back the clock and reset the possibilities, it seems unlikely to me that this could happen here, now, or at any time or anywhere.

          You have exposed me to the world, and I have gravitated to that part of it which is least represented by summer camp.

          I would prefer that you sent me to the “Lord of the Flies” themed summer camp, at least there would have been a literary association.

          I don't believe there is a camp that would be suited to me, except one of my own design. I should certainly be happy to put forward a range of suggestions and ideas on said topic, but in fifteen minutes I am expected at "Mess hall" which is where we are supposed to something called “sloppy-jims”. My stomach hurts to write it.

          The irony of a dining establishment of any sort labelled "mess" is not lost on you, I imagine.

          This is what you have done to me.

          Please send my Proust.

          Your enraged son,



June 16th

Lake Perigo, Minnesota

Dearest Mother,

          Not funny. I received the “care package” today.  It was the opposite of ‘care’. While I appreciate the attempt at humor by sending me a copy of Mad Magazine, I was not amused.

          “Mad” delights not me, to paraphrase Hamlet.

          My humiliation has been continual. This morning, I was forced to climb a tree, with the help of a rope fastened around my waist. As I reached a notable height, my foot slipped and I fell.

          For several minutes, I was dangling in the air like a piñata.

          The other children subjected me to ridicule during this time. You will recall that I am not slight of form, and in my panic, I daresay there were tears shed.

          Tonight there is dodge ball.

          There is nothing more to say.

          Please send my Proust.

          Your distressed son,



June 19th

Lake Perigo, Minnesota


          Do you recall Andrei in “War and Peace”, when he is lying on the field of battle looking up at the sky and feeling at peace and at one with all creation? “In me alone and in this sun there is so much happiness…”

          Well, I feel the opposite of that. 

          Have learned that I am allergic to bee stings.

          Not pretty.

          Please send my Proust.

          Your son,

          Not Andrei


June 23rd

Lake Perigo, Minnesota

Dear Mother,

          This camp continues to provide more suffering than could be listed in Dante’s Inferno:

          My mouth tastes like bug repellant.

          I found a wood tick behind my ear.

          My arms itch from mosquito bites.

          My legs itch from poison ivy.

          The meals are inedible.

          The company is unsociable.

          If there has been a kind word spoken to me in this place, I have not heard it.

          I  have been exposed to canoeing, where I was overexposed to the sun.

          I have been sprayed by a skunk, chased by a bear, and bitten by a fish.

          I have lost every game, race, contest, and sense of personal dignity.

          I have suffered every imaginable discomfiture that you could imagine in attempting to become a ‘normal’ nine-year old child.

          And yet…I know I am going to be ok now.

          I know I am going to get through now.

          I know I am home now.

          Thank you for sending my Proust!

          It looks like rain, and I will be stuck inside all day, with nothing to do but read.

          Your grateful son,


Kit Mas is a writer currently living in New York City. Recent stories include “The Supernumerary” (Pigeon Review Prize Short Listed 2022); “Captain Gardiner” ( Crowvus Christmas Ghost Story Competition – Long List), “The Merciful Kindness of Heaven” (Henshaw Press - Short List; Parracombe Prize - Long List), “The Pileated Woodpecker'' (Tulip Tree Review Semifinalist). His story “The Kapellmeister of Kothen: A Fugue” won the Gotham Musical Words Contest (as Christopher G. Moore).  Sharing sometimes on X(Twitter) @KitMas8 and Instagram @kitmasstory.

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