Stronger Links

Deniz Pala

Dear Mum and Dad,

I need money.

I’m sorry for the lack of communication ever since my arrival at this fancy boarding school. The honest truth is I haven’t been adjusting well and was embarrassed to tell you all about it, especially my academic performance, considering how much you value it. The classwork is very difficult here and I felt like despite being the hardest working person I saw, I always ended up with the lowest grades. Well, I’m writing to you now because I figured out how that happened.

Thanks to my drawing skills and a group project in arts class, I ended up being invited to the dorm room of a girl in my class named Alyssa. Her roommate Becca was also there, studying by reading her textbook aloud while were drawing on Alyssa’s side of the room. About half an hour in, I spotted Becca pulling out a diffuser. I didn’t see what she put in it, but was excited for the room to smell a bit nicer, if I’m being honest. 

Skip forward half an hour, the room smelled worse, when Becca suddenly called out my name to ask me… to describe the relationship between appearance and reality as described by Pluto, Russell and Descartes. And I started answering.

As you know, I don’t take philosophy. I don’t like philosophy. I could’ve sworn I had never heard those names before, let alone their ideas. And yet there I was going on about them with all the details, like I was… reading from a textbook.

After having a good long laugh, thanks to whatever facial expressions I was pulling, they explained it all to me.

What Becca put in wasn’t an essential oil, it was the voice recording she made while reading her textbook. The “diffuser” converted the sound into a smell. The sense with the weakest link to memory to the one with the strongest. That’s why they simply called it a “converter.” Two men made it for their son who had a condition that made it especially difficult for him to memorize things for school. When he started at this school, the other parents tracked the diffusers down and pushed until they began mass-producing them. Although knowledge of this product stayed within a very elite group of people, the two men became rich, and the school the hardest in the country, as the students just kept getting good grades no matter how much more material the school put in the curriculum.

And that is why I need money, and lots of it, if you insist on keeping me at this school.

With sincere appreciation,

Your lovely daughter Max