The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

snow before. Just like I think that a lot of other people have read those books before. And listened to those songs.

I wonder how they feel tonight.

I don't really know what I'm saying. I probably shouldn't write this down because I'm still seeing things move. I want them to stop moving, but they're not supposed to for another few hours. That's what Bob said before he went to his bedroom with Jill, a girl that I don't know.

I guess what I'm saying is that this all feels very familiar. But it's not mine to be familiar about. I just know that another kid has felt this. This one time when it's peaceful outside, and you're seeing things move, and you don't want to, and everyone is asleep. And all the books you've read have been read by other people. And all the songs you've loved have been heard by other people. And that girl that's pretty to you is pretty to other people. And you know that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you are describing "unity."

It's like when you are excited about a girl and you see a couple holding hands, and you feel so happy for them. And other times you see the same couple, and they make you so mad. And all you want is to always feel happy for them because you know that if you do, then it means that you're happy, too.

I just remembered what made me think of all this. I'm going to write it down because maybe if I do I won't have to think about it. And I won't get upset. But the thing is that I can hear Sam and Craig having sex, and for the first time in my life, I understand the end of that poem.

And I never wanted to. You have to believe me.

Love always,


part 3

January 4, 1992

Dear friend,

I'm sorry for that last letter. To tell you the truth, I don't really remember much of it, but I know from how I woke up that it probably wasn't very nice. All I remember from the rest of that night was looking all over the house for an envelope and a stamp. When I finally found them, I wrote your address and walked down the hill past the trees to the post office because I knew that if I didn't put it in a mailbox that I couldn't get it back from, I would never mail the letter.

It's weird how important it seemed at the time.

Once I got to the post office, I dropped the letter into the mailbox. And it felt final. And calm. Then, I started throwing up, and I didn't stop throwing up until the sun came up. I looked at the road and saw a lot of cars, and I knew they were all going to their grandparents' house. And I knew a lot of them would watch my brother play football later that day. And my mind played hopscotch.

My brother ... football ... Brad ... Dave and his girlfriend in my room ... the coats ... the cold ... the winter ... "Autumn Leaves" ... don't tell anyone ... you pervert... Sam and Craig ... Sam... Christmas ... typewriter... gift... Aunt Helen ... and the trees kept moving ... they just wouldn't stop moving ... so I laid down and made a snow angel.

The policemen found me pale blue and asleep.

I didn't stop shivering from the cold until a long time after my mom and dad drove me home from the emergency room. Nobody got in trouble because these things used to happen to me when I was a kid when I was seeing the doctors. I would just wander off and fall asleep somewhere. Everyone knew I went to a party, but nobody, not even my sister, thought it was because of that. And I kept my mouth shut because I didn't want Sam or Patrick or Bob or anyone to get in trouble. But most of all, I didn't want to see my mother's face and especially my father's if they heard me say the truth.

So, I didn't say anything.

I just kept quiet and looked around. And I noticed things. The dots on the ceiling. Or how the blanket they gave me was rough. Or how the doctor's face looked rubbery. Or how everything was a deafening whisper, when he said that maybe I should start seeing a psychiatrist again. It was the first time a doctor ever told that to my parents with me in the room. And his coat was so white. And I was so tired.

All I could think through the whole day was that we missed my brother's football game because of me, and I really hoped my sister thought to tape it.

Luckily, she did.

We got home, and my mom made me some tea, and my dad asked me if I wanted to sit and watch the game, and I said yes. We watched my brother make a great play, but this time, nobody really cheered. All corners of all eyes were on me. And my mom said a lot of encouraging things about how I was doing so well this school year and maybe the doctor would help me sort things out. My mom can be quiet and talk at the same time when she's being positive. My dad kept giving me "love pats." Love pats are soft punches of encouragement that are administered on the knee, shoulder, and arm. My sister said that she could help me fix up my hair. It was weird to have them pay so much attention to me.

"What do you mean? What's wrong with my hair?"

My sister just kind of looked around, uncomfortable. I reached my hands up to my hair and realized that a lot of it was gone. I honestly don't remember when I did it, but from the look of my hair, I must have grabbed a pair of scissors and just started cutting without strategy. Big chunks of it were missing all over the place. It was like a butcher's cut. I hadn't looked at myself in the mirror at the party for a long time because my face was different and frightened me. Or else I would have noticed.

My sister did help me trim it up a bit, and I was lucky because everyone in school including Sam and Patrick thought it looked cool.

"Chic" was Patrick's word.

Regardless, I decided to never take LSD again.

Love always,


January 14, 1992

Dear friend,

I feel like a big faker because I've been putting my life back together, and nobody knows. It's hard to sit in my bedroom and read like I always did. It's even hard to talk to my brother on the phone. His team finished third in the nation. Nobody told him we missed the game live because of me.

I went to the library and checked out a book because I was getting scared. Every now and then things would start moving again, and sounds were bass heavy and hollow. And I couldn't put a thought together. The book said that sometimes people take LSD, and they don't really get out of it. They said that it increases this one type of brain transmitter. They said that essentially the drug is twelve hours of schizophrenia, and if you already have a lot of this brain transmitter, you don't get out of it.

I started breathing fast in the library. It was really bad because I remembered some of the schizophrenic kids in the hospital when I was little. And it didn't help that this was the day after I noticed that all the kids were wearing their new Christmas clothes, so I decided to wear my new suit from Patrick to school, and was teased mercilessly for nine straight hours. It was such a bad day. I skipped my first class ever and went to see Sam and Patrick outside.

"Looking sharp, Charlie," Patrick said grinning.

"Can I have a cigarette?" I said. I couldn't bring myself to say "bum a smoke." Not for my first one. I just couldn't.

"Sure," said Patrick.

Sam stopped him.

"What's wrong, Charlie?"

I told them what was wrong, which prompted Patrick to keep asking me if I had a "bad trip."

"No. No. It's not that." I was really getting upset.

Sam put her arm around my shoulder, and she said she knew what I was going through. She told me I shouldn't worry about it. Once you do it, you remember how things looked on it. That's all. Like how the road turned into waves. And how your face was plastic and your eyes were two different sizes. It's all in your mind.

That's when she gave me the cigarette.

When I lit it, I didn't cough. It actually felt soothing. I know that's bad in a health class way, but it was true.

"Now, focus on the smoke," Sam said.

And I focused on the smoke.

"Now, that looks normal doesn't it?"

"Uh-huh," I think I said.

"Now, look at the cement on the playground. Is it moving?"


"Okay ... now focus on the piece of paper that's just sitting there on the ground."

And I focused on the piece of paper that was sitting on the ground.

"Is the cement moving now?"

"No. It's not."

From there you go, to you're going to be okay, to you probably should never do acid again, Sam went on to explain what she called "the trance." The trance happens when you don't focus on anything, and the whole big picture swallows and moves around you. She said it was usually metaphoric, but for people who should never do acid again, it was literal.

That's when I started laughing. I was so relieved. And Sam and Patrick smiled. I was glad they started smiling, too, because I couldn't stand their looking so worried.

Things have stopped moving for the most part ever since. I haven't skipped another class. And I guess now I don't feel like a big faker for trying to put my life back together. Bill thought my paper on The Catcher in the Rye (which I wrote on my new old typewriter!) was my best one yet. He said I was "developing" at a rapid pace and gave me a different kind of book as "a reward." It's On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

I'm now up to about ten cigarettes a day.

Love always,


January 25, 1992

Dear friend,

I feel great! I really mean it. I have to remember this for the next time I'm having a terrible week. Have you ever done that? You feel really bad, and then it goes away, and you don't know why. I try to remind myself when I feel great like this that there will be another terrible week coming someday, so I should store up as many great details as I can, so during the next terrible week, I can remember those details and believe that I'll feel great again. It doesn't work a lot, but I think it's very important to try.

My psychiatrist is a very nice man. He's much better than my last psychiatrist. We talk about things that I feel and think and remember. Like when I was little, and there was this one time that I walked down the street in my neighborhood. I was completely naked, holding a bright blue umbrella, even though it wasn't raining. And I was so happy because it made my mom smile. And she rarely smiled. So, she took a picture. And the neighbors complained.

This other time, I saw a commercial for this movie about a man who was accused of murder, but he didn't commit the murder. A guy from M*A*S*H was the star of the movie. That's probably why I remember it. The commercial said that the whole movie was about him trying to prove that he was innocent and how he could go to jail anyway. That scared me a lot. It scared me how much it scared me. Being punished for something you did not do. Or being an innocent victim. It's just something that I never want to experience.

I don't know if it is important to tell you all this, but at the time, it felt like a "breakthrough."

The best thing about my psychiatrist is that he has music magazines in his waiting room. I read an article about Nirvana on one visit, and it didn't have any references to honey mustard dressing or lettuce. They kept talking about the singer's stomach problems all the time, though. It was weird.

Like I told you, Sam and Patrick love their big song, so I thought I'd read it to have something to discuss with them. In the end, the magazine compared him with John Lennon from the Beatles. I told that to Sam later, and she got really mad. She said he was like Jim Morrison if he was like anybody, but really, he isn't like anybody but himself. We were all at the Big Boy after Rocky Horror, and it started this big discussion.

Craig said the problem with things is that everyone is always comparing everyone with everyone and because of that, it discredits people, like in his photography classes.

Bob said that it was all about our parents not wanting to let go of their youth and how it kills them when they can't relate to something.

Patrick said that the problem was that since everything has happened already, it makes it hard to break new ground. Nobody can be as big as the Beatles because the Beatles already gave it a "context." The reason they were so big is that they had no one to compare themselves with, so the sky was the limit.

Sam added that nowadays a band or someone would compare themselves to the Beatles after the second album, and their own personal voice would be less from that moment on.

"What do you think, Charlie?"

I couldn't remember where I heard it or read it. I said maybe it was in This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. There's a place near the end of the book where the main kid is picked up by some older gentleman. They are both going to an Ivy League homecoming football game, and they have this debate. The older gentleman is established. The kid is "jaded."

Anyway, they have this discussion, and the kid is an idealist in a temporary way. He talks about his "restless generation" and things like that. And he says something like, "This is not a time for heroes because nobody will let that happen." The book takes place in the 1920s, which I thought was great because I supposed the same kind of conversation could happen in the Big Boy. It probably already did with our parents and grandparents. It was probably happening with us right now.

So, I said I thought the magazine was trying to make him a hero, but then later somebody might dig up something to make him seem like less than a person. And I didn't know why because to me he is just a guy who writes songs that a lot of people like, and I thought that was enough for everyone involved. Maybe I'm wrong, but everyone at the table starting talking about it.

Sam blamed television. Patrick blamed government. Craig blamed the "corporate media." Bob was in the bathroom.

I don't know what it was, and I know we didn't really accomplish anything, but it felt great to sit there and talk about our place in things. It was like when Bill told me to "participate." I went to the homecoming dance like I told you before, but this was much more fun. It was especially fun to think that people all over the world were having similar conversations in their equivalent of the Big Boy.

I would have told the table that, but they were really having fun being cynical, and I didn't want to ruin it. So, I just sat back a little bit and watched Sam sitting next to Craig and tried not to be too sad about it. I have to say that I couldn't do it very successfully. But at one point, Craig was talking about something, and Sam turned to me and smiled. It was a movie smile in slow motion, and then everything was okay.

I told this to my psychiatrist, but he said it was too soon to draw any conclusions.

I don't know. I just had a great day. I hope you did, too.

Love always,


February 2, 1992

Dear friend,

On the Road was a very good book. Bill didn't ask me to write a paper about it because, like I said, it was "a reward." He did ask me to visit him in his office after school to discuss it, which I did. He made tea, and I felt like a grown-up. He even let me smoke a cigarette in his office, but he urged me to quit smoking because of the health risks. He even had a pamphlet in his desk that he gave me. I now use it as a bookmark.

I thought Bill and I were going to talk about the book, but we ended up talking about "things." It was great to have so many discussions back-to-back. Bill asked me about Sam and Patrick and my parents, and I told him about getting my license and talking in the Big Boy. I also told him about my psychiatrist. I didn't tell him about the party or my sister and her boyfriend, though. They're still seeing each other in secret, which my sister says only "adds to their passion."

After I got through telling Bill about my life, I asked him about his. It was nice, too, because he didn't try to be cool and relate to me or anything. He was just himself about it. He said that he studied undergraduate work at some college in the West that doesn't give grades, which I thought was peculiar, but Bill said it was the best education he ever got. He said he'd give me a brochure when the time was right.

After he went to Brown University for graduate school, Bill traveled around Europe for a while, and when he came home, he joined Teach for America. When this year is over, he thinks he is going to move to New York and write plays. I guess he's still pretty young, although I thought it would be rude to ask him. I did ask him if he had a girlfriend, though, and he said he didn't. He seemed sad when he said it, too, but I decided not to pry because I thought that would be too personal. Then, he gave me my next book to read. It's called Naked Lunch.

I started reading it when I got home, and to tell you the truth, I don't know what the guy is talking about. I would never tell Bill this. Sam told me that William S. Burroughs wrote the book when he was on heroin and that I should "go with the flow." So, I did. I still had no idea what he was talking about, so I went downstairs to watch television with my sister.

The show was Gomer Pyle, and my sister was very quiet and moody. I tried to talk to her, but she just told me to shut up and leave her alone. So, I watched the show for a few minutes, but it made even less sense to me than the book, so I decided to do my math homework, which was a mistake because math has never made any sense to me.

I was just confused all day.

So, I tried to help my mother in the kitchen, but I dropped the casserole, so she told me to read in my room until my father came home, but reading is what started this whole mess in the first place. Luckily, my father came home before I could pick up the book again, but he told me to stop "hanging on his shoulders like a monkey" because he wanted to watch the hockey game. I watched the hockey game with him for a while, but I couldn't stop asking him questions about which countries the players are from, and he was "resting his eyes," which means he was sleeping but didn't want me to change the channel. So, he told me to go watch television with my sister, which I did, but she told me to go help my mother in the kitchen, which I did, but then she told me to go read in my room. Which I did.

I've read about a third of the book now, and it's pretty good so far.

Love always,


February 8, 1992

Dear friend,

I have a date for the Sadie Hawkins' dance. In case you didn't have one of those, it's the dance where the girl asks the boy. In my case, the girl is Mary Elizabeth, and the boy is me. Can you believe it?!

I think it started when I was helping Mary Elizabeth staple the latest issue of Punk Rocky on Friday before we went to The Rocky H
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