Dear Xuan


Dear Xuan,

I write this letter to you my daughter in this old fashioned way on hard copy so it cannot be altered or deleted from a distance. You are now eighteen and you deserve to know the truth from your mother and your mother’s mother about the peace in our time.

It is women’s work to care and share but now this can be brought about with a pill.

Peace was achieved they say by nations realising that being altruistic in the face of climate change was necessary to survive. It was the part of the truth that let the men in suits save face, whilst the whole truth is dismissed as a conspiracy theory like crop circles and anti vaccinations movements.

But I will tell you what happened so at least one more person will know of it. You know your grandmother as a kindly soul who spent her days as a cleaner. You did not know that she was a spy for the Stasi, the East German secret police. No one thought twice of the migrant women underclass that cleaned up their mess and excess and people were careless even when under scrutiny.

When the Wall fell she became an industrial spy for Hanoi. Back then Vietnam was one of those places where multinational companies farmed out their means of production to keep costs down. They were too short sighted to see that this gave Vietnam the means to replicate their goods independently. It wasn’t just clothes and food it included pharmaceuticals; free from the regulation of the Therapeutic Goods Association in America and first world medication pricing regimes.

So when Hanoi decided to have and retain peace it elected to infiltrate the first world through the illegal drug trade. They manufactured a synthetic oxytocin, commonly thought of as the love hormone that was produced in women when breastfeeding and cuddling children. They called the drug empathy and claimed it was a real aphrodisiac.

They recruited drug mules and I was one of them. The effect of empathy on me was amazing. From being shy and introverted, I suddenly wished everyone around me well, and was not adverse to a cuddle from strangers. The first weekend it was released in Berlin it flooded Berghain with five floors of dancers and good will. As the weekends rolled by it infiltrated the homes of movers and shakers and politicians through their children if not themselves.

Merkel took her stance of compassion for refugees. It was the drug’s first success.

Now you know the truth. Hanoi backed the design and distribution for empathy using existing drug routes. First world nations welcomed refugees whilst warring sides lost the will to fight and laid down their weapons.

We now have peace in our time. Some naysayers in the Party who claim they are purists say it makes a mockery of free will, and it is not a true peace if you are drugged into it rather than having a choice.

Having seen wars I think the ends justify the means.

But I give you a choice now Xuan, when you next go clubbing you can choose whether to take empathy or not. There was a glut of it a month ago, but they are making it scarce again so people will be more desperate and will feed the demand.

They still need women to care and share, and the oxytocin to do its work.

It’s your choice.

Your loving mother,



Hoa Pham

Author: Hoa Pham

Hoa Pham is the founder of Peril. She is the author of seven books and a play. Her novella The Other Shore won the Vive La Novella Priize, and her book Wave is being adapted to film. For more information please visit