Relatively Speaking

April 29, 2009
By Katlyn Firkus SILVER, Conyers, Georgia
Katlyn Firkus SILVER, Conyers, Georgia
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Max entered the room in a hurry, his trench coat hit the doors of the office floor and nearly cracked the frosted glass, but he wouldn’t have noticed. He was on a deadline, and it was closing in very fast. Four articles with photos and the obituaries had to be finished by two o’ clock. Not to mention that his main journalist was on maternity leave and his best photographer was under the weather. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was going to have to use interns, and when he gave the news he didn’t remotely try to obscure his immense disappointment. With extremely sarcastic enthusiasm he told the fresh batch of the newly recruited graduates, “Alright people, its about time your lazy butts begin to pull their weight around here.” Then he began to assign articles and tasks left and right with incredible ferocity and speed. After realizing exactly how dumbfounded he had left them he began to encourage them to work faster with vigorous threats of them being fired. They quickly caught on to what he wanted and began to speed their work while sweating under the pressure. He grinned and at two o’ clock that grin turned into a smile when he was handed the finished articles and obituaries.

The rest of the day was fast, hectic, and exactly how max liked it. He was exhausted by the end of the day and all he wanted to do was slip into bed and sleep. He walked into his office to gather up his things and drive off when he saw something sticking out of his coat pocket. It was a piece of paper, a missed article, he assumed, but at a second glance it was a letter. He curiously removed it from his trench coat and began to read the paper carefully, so as not to miss a detail. It read:
Dear Max,

I address you as if I know you for I know I am a part of you and your life, or , I pray I will be soon. You don’t know me, but still you are a major piece of me. I guess I’m being a little forward, but it has to be said. I am your son. It may be difficult for you to understand this, but it is true. I have kept quiet for a while, but I have just recently located you and I need to speak with you. Please, let me convince you, don’t’ completely disregard me. I know I can prove it to you if you’ll just give it a chance.


“Writer. Cute. Ridiculous, but cute.” Max thought. “Wow. Some people are just insane. First of all, I wasn’t married long enough to have a child, and secondly, if I did, Victoria would have told me.” At this remark, he had to hold back a quickly forming sob. His late wife, Victoria, was only wed to him for two years, then she died of pneumonia while he was traveling, which he did a lot back then. Her death is partly the reason for why he had retired from traveling and became the editor of his newspaper. However, the memory of her was still hard to bear even after the many years of mourning her. It made him slightly mad to think someone else could even think to speak to him of something she was involved in as if they could share in his memories of her. Even without these thoughts on his mind he would know without a doubt that this whole thing was a cruel joke or a product of another’s insanity.

He huffed as he thought of this man’s nerve, but did not let his disgust keep him from bed. He left the office after tossing the letter in the shredder where it would be only seen again by the janitors. Then he trotted down the stairs and out of the familiar glass doors. He hailed a taxi which escorted him to his house with a friendly driver and comfortable seats that he loved. He went up to his apartment after a quick exchanging of pleasantries with the woman at the desk in the lobby, and opened his door. After turning on the lights he noticed something was off. A piece of paper moved here, a dislocated pillow on the couch, and the most disturbing was the crisp piece of computer paper laying gently on his mattress. He ran into his bedroom after catching a glimpse of the paper and quickly opened it to reveal another letter from this mysterious writer. He read it with a mixed feeling of anger and vulnerability, for he didn’t know whether he was in charge of this situation, or whether the writer was rolling the dice. This new addition to his suspicion read much more blunt and forceful than the first.
Dear Max,

I had a feeling you would be dubious of the sincerity of my intentions. So, I decided to add some layers of truth atop my previous statements. You probably think me a maniac, but I am the son of Victoria White, your late wife. She had your child, and from your suspicions and disbelief, she held this from you. She made this known to me by the letters she sent to my adopting family. She was sure that I would have a better life away from the troubles of your constant traveling and the lack of financial stability. However, I wanted desperately to speak with her, and thus began my search. Only after months of looking, did I discover her death, and decided you were my closest link to her. If more proof is needed I can provide it, I know how difficult it is to sway the beliefs of a journalist, but I can.


His face sloped rapidly into a frown and his hands began to shake. He began to feel uncomfortable and he rushed to lock the door and slam the windows shut. Though he climbed into his bed and pulled up the comforter, he could not fall into slumber. He tossed and turned with thoughts of this maniac viewing him for however long it had been. He thought of his wife keeping from him his own son. Could this really be his son communicating with him? He immediately said no, but something in him had wanted to believe it from the beginning. That piece of hope he had managed to salvage from the death of Victoria had always included dreams of a family, perhaps this was his chance. He would not be convinced that easily. It would take a lot more than simple facts, and it didn’t help that he was now frightened for his life.

The next morning as he walked out of his building and onto the bustling sidewalk he felt strange. It was as if he were being watched. The normal sounds of the city that generally pounded inside his head became silent and the only people who were moving were himself and the invisible force that continually sought him out through the huge mobs of people. It was nerve-racking and a lot worse than the average human paranoia. Despite this constant factor in his morning commute, max made it to work as usual and was greeted immediately by an intern named Garrett, who handed him the papers along with his coffee.

At that moment he began to work once more and everything flowed as if it were just another day. He smiled, just another day. It was a nice thought, even if there was not a single grain of truth in the statement. He worked through the night and then made a cautious and careful return home. He had a gun in his pocket now, and with his slight boost in confidence he decided to walk to his building. When he had made it to his door he inserted his key and turned the knob. To his surprise, he heard a jingling sound. His mind made the leap to a second break in and by instinct he took out his gun. Astonishingly enough, there was no one except himself in the room. However, there had been a break in, for hanging on the doorknob inside the apartment was a beautiful sapphire necklace.

Tears built up, and despite his barricades they flowed. It was a necklace belonging to Victoria, one that he had given her on their first anniversary. He hadn’t seen it in so long, but the vivid memories of her wearing it appeared and he couldn’t help but smile. His defences weakened, for a single second, believed this man was his son, but as quickly as the notion grew, it died. He remembered that once more he had been broken into. He frowned and climbed into bed again, after first checking for letters.

The next day at the office, his secretary informed him that her copy of his house key was missing. She had it for whenever he would leave an article or review at home. Obviously, the writer was someone tied with his work life as well as his past. Now, he wasn’t even safe here. He sat sweating, his eyes constantly scanning the work floor through his window, and his hand constantly set on the handle of his gun. He nearly pulled the trigger when he was caught off guard by a phone call. After regaining his composure he answered it with haste. “Hello?” he asked, for there had been no voice on the other end. “If you need more proof,” the voice said, “try St. Joseph’s adoption agency.” Then they hung up.

The phone crashed to the floor after slipping through his trembling hands. It was a blood chilling thought that this man was so deeply entwined now in his life, that he would actually consider visiting the adoption agency, but, he thought, “It is a good journalist who searches for every clue and follows every tip, no matter what.” Though he knew he was only making excuses for his own desire to let this entire thing be true, he decided if he found no record of Victoria in their files, he could completely disregard the entire thing and call the police. So he set off for the agency.

He entered the agency with a false smile formed on his face. He was using the alias of a reporter in order to investigate their files, and had to look the part. After asking a few questions to the agencies director, he was allowed into the filing room.
He walked calmly into the room, and when he was sure that the staff members were out of earshot he slammed the door and rushed to the W section. He ferociously opened the cabinet and found the Whites. He pulled each out and glanced only for the name before tossing them aside. This routine was ended when he saw it, so subtle, but there. A V was formed at the top of one of the sheets and he immediately opened it to reveal the full name of Victoria White.

Even with this undeniable evidence, he was skeptical, and read the full report to know that it had to be his wife. It was, and now, all he wanted to do was find whoever this, Writer, was.

A letter, remarkably familiar to him, lay upon his desk. Instead of the usual pleas for acceptance, it was much more understanding and calmly written, which he needed now. It said:
Dear Max,

I know this must be difficult for you to understand, and I know that you, being a seeker of only the absolute truth, must still be skeptic. But I need you to believe, and you yourself, past the pains of your life, need this to. I need this to know a family, to have something that I know I can turn to. Even if you still don’t believe me, if you’ll meet me, I will stop leaving these letters. If you do wish to meet, or to stop this communication line between us, do so at the small coffee shop near your office.


The coffee shop. People go there, if he wished me any harm, he would want to go to a place that was empty. I do want these letters to stop and to have my life back once more. Alright, the coffee shop. He exited his office with an anxious composure. Though he tried to hide it, this had been an adventure and a thrill. He was looking forward to this meeting, and he walked slightly faster than usual.

When he reached the shop he found it full as usual. The air was filled with the ringing of voices and the fragrance of coffee that made him feel warmer inside. He walked around, scanning for suspicious faces, people who were alone, or anyone who would come up to him. After an hour of waiting, he came to the conclusion that this had all been some cruel joke and he left for home.

Disgusted by his own willingness to believe this false son, he opened his door and slammed it shut behind him. He sat down on his couch and nearly stayed that way for the whole night, but he realized that he had been angry and depressed before and had made it to see another day, so he trudged to his room. There he found another letter, and his depression lifted for a moment. He removed it from its position atop his nightstand, and read it inside of his head with anticipation. It said:

Dear Max,

I apologize for being absent at our meeting tonight. Something came up, and I couldn’t make it. However, I pray you give this a second chance. This is not a piece of my insanity, it is a desperate cry for family from a lonely soul to another. So, if you can find it within to meet me, please be at your office at ten o’ clock tomorrow. I will be there.


He would do it. His heart had been softened over the past few days, and this was the only chance for his hope to survive. If nothing more, he was showing forgiveness, and he was a firm believer in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. So he would be at his office when this man arrived.

At nine fifty-six he was sitting in his office, drenched with anticipation and anxiety. Questions of what if and how flooded his mind. He nearly jumped out of his seat when the door opened. He gazed to the face of the intruder, but found it only to be Garrett, his intern with documents. “Hurry, I’m expecting someone.”, he said with a snide tone. Garrett smiled and returned with, “I know, I didn’t want to miss this time.”

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