Summary: Leslie writes a letter to nobody at the end of the world.
Warnings: implied abuse, the apocalypse
Day 98 (or 98, 0 PA, per April's suggestion)
I think if I had to use one word to sum up the general contents of my life, it would be the word "dedicated." That's what I've always been. When I was in first grade, Mrs. Carleton told us that if we didn't aim for dedication to the important things in our lives, we were all doomed to live work for Sweetums. No biggie, of course, but when you combine it with my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Lee, who told us candy was a making of the devil to tempt small children, then I think you can see the problem.
I grew out of the candy thing eventually when my first crush Trevor Henderson turned out to be a huge fan of lollipops, but I never grew out of the dedication during my lifetime. Dedication drove me to become the star player for Model UN, leading me to a total of 5 consecutive record successes in my senior year. Dedication drove me through college on a history major and into the government, where I began as Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, or, as we called it, Parks and Rec. Dedication drove me from humble beginnings to where I would be now: Senator-Elect of the state of Indiana. Yeah, I guess you could say that before this whole mess, I was kind of a big deal. (Ben dared me to say that.) Weren't we all, though? Proud, brilliant American citizens, all striving for our dreams. In America, there was no such thing as taking what you could get. There was always hope, just over the horizon, that one day your life would change. You'd get that job promotion you'd always wanted. The book of your life's work would get published. You'd fall in love. Everybody could dream their dreams.
I dreamed of one day becoming President of the United States of America. The first woman to become President. When the election results came through for my position as Senator, it was the happiest moment of my life. And at the time, all I could think was that I would keep going up. I was going to make it.
I don't know you, reader, so I'll try not to assume, but if you've been through the same thing, I think you know what I went through only a couple of days later.
Dedication has driven me to try and make my mark on the world. I don't think I'm going to be able to make as much of a mark as I'd like under the circumstances, so instead, I'm writing a letter. It's not addressed to anybody in particular because I'm not entirely certain if somebody will read it, but I'd like the make the attempt. If this is the only mark I can make, this and the couple of crates of newspapers I've salvaged and locked up in my house, then I'll damn well do it.
The only one with me now is Ben. About two weeks ago Ron, April and Andy decided they were going to try their luck and head for Indianapolis. I'm not sure they'll make it there, but I have faith in them. If nothing else, Ron knows how to go through deserts and swamps and forests and fields and all those other places nobody ever really wants to go through, so they should be alright. Ron would never let me down. April and Andy will be okay with him, as long as April doesn't wander off.
I was planning to make this letter into a grand speech and statement, but I'm realizing now that's not what I want to write about. I want to write about my friends. So I'm going to do that.
April has always insisted on never caring about anything. She's, like, the coolest kid I know. She and Andy got married after dating for about a month, and I was skeptical, but they made it work. He didn't know how to be a responsible adult and she didn't really like being one, so they fit together well. Andy is the biggest puppy dog ever. Ever. Big and loyal and fun. Sometimes he can be a bit silly, but he's good-hearted. In the past few months, he's been invaluable by keeping everybody's spirits up, when he hasn't been consoling April. With all that's been happening, April kind of retreated into herself a little. She's always quiet, but she got quieter. I remember she could be utterly silent for hours, just to add to the awkward tension in the air and make everybody uncomfortable. What a girl. But recently, instead of her silence declaring loudly her refusal to socialize, it's said nothing. Silence because she has nothing to say. She and Andy spent so much time sitting on the couch, curled up by each other, and every time, no matter how much it drained him, it was always April relying on Andy for some kind of support. I think she lost something. I don't know what.
Ron has always seemed prepared for this sort of thing. He's been more prepared than any of us, and though I have, as always, been the assumed leader of things, I haven't always made it quite up to par. Ron has filled in those blanks. When I can't give the order that needs giving, Ron will step up. He's gruff and he's a good man. And hella good with a gun, too. Before he left with April and Andy, we had one more meal of waffles together, and I'll never forget it.
Donna left us early. She and Jerry. I guess I should call him Garry, but I know him as Jerry, so he's still Jerry. Anyway, Gerry screwed up, and Donna was with him. Donna was bright and passionate and loved the finer things in life, and also a lot of men. I mean a lot of men. Jerry was... Jerry.
Tom, Ann and Chris were with us for the first month and a half, but after Ann, beautiful, wonderful, most fantastic woman in the world Ann, Tom and Chris decided they were going to Indianapolis together. Tom's wily, so I bet he got them out of a couple of tough situations. Chris was in a mild panic, but after Ann, he seemed to solidify a little. I think she reminded him of what was important: friends, family. The people close to you. And he and Tom talked, and left. I was a bit of a wreck at the time and I don't remember much from those couple of days. Ben told me about it later. But I bet Tom is out there flirting with some girl. Or Lucy! I bet Lucy made it to Indianapolis. She was really cool. But yeah, with Chris' athleticism and Tom's wit, I think they make a great, if unorthodox, team.
Ann... I miss Ann so much. She's the sexy Joe Biden to my Barack Obama and she's the best nurse in the whole universe, and every parallel universe, too. Yeah. That good. She also used to be Pawnee's Chief of Health PR, and briefly my campaign manager when I ran for Councilwoman of Pawnee, but most of all, she's the most important woman in my life.
Anyway, that's the people who were with me. I could also talk about my mom, but I haven't seen her since Election Day.
Ben is laughing so I guess I'll have to include him at some point. Shh! I'm leading up to it!
Today is Valentine's Day. Ben and I spent the entire morning having sex. That's probably a little rude to put in this letter, but I don't care. The sex was fantastic. I haven't had that much fun since Ron left. Then we had a quick lunch, and I told Ben about my idea for writing this letter, and he thought it was a great idea. I told him it could wait until tomorrow, but he said, "Knope, you've got your teeth in this. Do it now. I have to make preparations, so it's not like I won't be busy too." I have the best husband ever. I'm going to shoo him off now so I can write up the next part of this in private.
I know you're going to read this, so I'm addressing it to you, even though I'm sure the reader is going to read this too, if there's a reader reading this, which because these words are being read, there probably is.
You're the greatest thing in my life. All my dreams, all my wishes and hopes have meant nothing without you since the first time I realized how important you were to me. The most important to me. I think I had some inkling that you were somebody I wanted in my life even before we dated, but you had to break up with me before I really, really understood how much I cared. I told Ann, before I gave you the Washington Monument, that I thought it would kill me if you went to DC. But you going to DC wasn't what was going to kill me, it was just the thought of you not being in my life. Back then, I would have lived. I had my friends, my family, and my life ahead of me even without you. If one little thing had gone wrong and somehow we were parted, I would have been so much less happy than I am, but I would have survived. Now, though, I don't know.
I'm going to be straight with you, Ben. I love you. I love you so much, but this has ruined me. I used to need you, but now it's more than that. I think, honestly, if you try to leave, it will kill me. I'm so terrified.
I know that's a terrible thing to say and I'm sorry but it's how I feel right now. When you say you're making "preparations" it's not just to go out to Eagleton for more supplies, I know. I don't think we can make it to Indianapolis. Tom and Chris were the last. I know you want to leave, but I can't and I won't. I don't believe there is anything else out there that can help us. The only thing I know now is that I'm from Pawnee, Ben. If I'm going to stay anywhere, it's going to be here.
I love you. I love every single inch of you and I have loved you every single day of my life. That sounds like a sappy, untrue, ridiculous statement, and that's probably because it is. I love your cute face and your sexy butt and that little frown you're making at me over the countertop right now. I love you for not hating me when I used you after Ann. I love you for forgiving me. I love you because you quoted Ghostbusters yesterday and because you let me call you my riflery padawan. I love your hair, even if it's messy like you keep telling me it is. I think by now I've kissed every single part of your body, every last bit of skin, and I'm glad, because that's been a life goal of mine since forever. I love that you found me whipped cream. I love the way you can make me laugh about as much as I love the way you can make me scream. A lot. I love that you can multiply three digits in your head. I love you for holding on to April. I love you for everything. But even if none of these things were true, I think I would still love you because I don't know how not to.
Ben Wyatt, you are everything to me. And maybe I never did get to be Senator doing Senate things, and you never did marry a Senator like we promised, but I don't care. You're my husband and the brightest star in my sky. Nobody can tell me otherwise. I don't regret our long engagement, but we've been married since basically forever. That's how I feel. I do wish we had gotten the fancy wedding though. The church would have been so lovely, I just know it.
If you want to go to Indianapolis, then go as soon as possible. But I can't come with you, Ben. I just can't. I'd rather die here than go out on such a slim chance. Besides, this is Pawnee, and it's where I belong. You know that. Maybe it's just worry talking or maybe I'm just not as strong as I was when all this started. I don't know. I think losing Ann broke me, somehow, because otherwise, I never would have done what I did. Not like April, but, the pieces, they all used to fit together and now the edges don't match. But maybe that's just wishful thinking and this is always who I have been, too. The only solid thing I know is that even if I'm not the same Leslie you fell in love with, if I'm somebody else who's worse now, I'm still a Leslie deeply in love with you.
If you leave, I'm not going to last much longer. But if you do leave, I forgive you. And I love you. And I hope you live. Please, if you leave, just take this letter with you and find some way to pass it along, and live. Do it now, because I know you're going to be reading this while I'm not around, and I don't want to have to say goodbye. If I couldn't to them, I don't want to say it to you. I'm sorry for steamrolling and being selfish. I'm sorry. You don't deserve any of this from me. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Thank you for reading. Please, keep this letter with you and share it if you can. I want my friends to be remembered. I want us to be remembered, even if we're just a little group from the small little town of Pawnee, Indiana. It's important to me.
We all lost our dreams. The really big ones. Everything is wrong. Even the color of the sky has been so bent out of shape that some day I don't think I could tell you what it used to look like. My only dream now is that the people important to me are known. I'd like to say Pawnee was alive and thriving, but it isn't, so I want you to know the people who were there. I love history and I firmly believe that it's important, and that the only way people can truly die is if nobody takes the time to remember them. That's the saddest thing there is. I'm so scared of everything now, but most of all I'm scared that nobody will ever remember.
Please, fulfill a woman's final, smallest dream.
Leslie Barbara Knope, Senator-Elect of Indiana
Fiancée of Ben Wyatt and Resident of Pawnee, Indiana
( Originally posted at http://lizzledpink.dreamwidth.org/19365.html )