Mailbox

The dawn rose smoky above the mountain tops, lingering in pastels and lightly fading into sunshine. I walked quietly down to the mailbox. The world was still asleep. The crabgrass in our front yard was lightly sprinkled over with a layer of crisp frost. I looked up to the small streams of smoke rising from red brick chimneys in the distance. I took a breath in and felt the cold push its way through my body. The air made my lungs ache. As I breathed out a puff of air expanded in the air and slowly blew away. The little beat up mailbox sat barely upright with small shingles missing on the side. Despite the lopsidedness it was quite pretty, actually. It had little hand painted birds perching on a snow covered branch. There was a cardinal, a blue jay, and a sparrow. I smiled. My grandmother had painted each one. She had slaved over the old thing for hours one cold night by the fire. I remember watching her curiously as she dipped a long bristle brush in paints. She would talk slowly. Her words dripped like honey; soft, slow, and smooth through the air. I was entranced by her stories. She would sit there and paint the little birdies while telling me that someday the mailbox would belong to me. At the time I didn’t really care. Truthfully, mail was unimportant, but I grew to understand how important that mailbox would become to me. I reached out holding onto the barely stable mailbox as I rounded over the icy ground. A little shingle popped out of place and fell from the roof of the mailbox. It fell through the air, hitting the ground with a ‘click’. I didn’t really mind. It was just one shingle. I reached for the knob on the mailbox and yanked it open. It swung open and teetered back and forth under the box. I reached in and felt around with my mitten. I couldn’t find anything so I removed the woolen mitten and I bent over to look inside. Inside was a solitary letter. I closed my eyes biting back tears against the sharp winter winds. I thanked God. I thanked him with everything. I pulled out the letter. I couldn’t feel a note inside. The envelope was worn a bit at the sides from the trip it had made. The corner was creased inwards from handling and the little cuts on the postage stamp were peeling up. The postage stamp was a little drawing of the liberty bell covered up with the inky confirmation stamps. In little curvy cursive writing my name was scrawled out.
Holly Braxton

I recognized the writing. At that moment I bent over onto the mailbox, tears welling in my eyes. I couldn’t believe he had remembered to write. I knew deep in my heart he would, but I wasn’t sure. He had promised to write when the first frost came.
I brought my mitten up to my eyes wiping them; I was going to stay strong. For a second the air felt light. I looked down at the envelope and turned it over tearing at the seal. It came off with some trouble. I reached inside and pulled out a note. Something small fell out but I barely noticed and guessed it was just some dirt.
I unfolded the note and focused my eyes at the small handwriting.

My dearest Holly,
I am very sorry that I was not able to be for you when your grandmother died. My biggest apology, though, is that I barely get to see you. You’re aunt says you grow everyday. She says you eat as much as I do. I really wish I could’ve been there to see you turn 15; you are a young woman now. I’m sure you look like your mother. I want you to know that I love you and think about you every day. When I wake up early on mornings and see the sun rise I think of you. Now more than ever, since the frost is creeping up on us. I also think of your mother. Your Aunt mentioned that you were considering enlisting. Your mother wouldn’t have been more proud, and neither can I. I know you want to be like us, your mom and me. But, I think you should do what your heart wants. You remember that mail box your grandmother painted, right? Is it still at your Aunt’s house? If I do remember, it was fading and getting old. Maybe you could make her a new one. I hope I come home soon. Say a prayer. And if you need me, never stop watching the sunrise…
Have courage,
Love,
Sergeant Braxton, otherwise known as Dad

It took my minutes to realize the note was over, and it seemed to take me hours to notice I was crying. I really did miss my father. I hoped he wouldn’t die like mom had. I cried a little harder. She had died serving our country. My grandmother was proud of her. I looked down at the mailbox. In the glittering sunlight I noticed something I hadn’t before. It was old. But more importantly as I squinted at the shining surface I noticed a bushel of Holly. It was outlining the creamy background of a sunrise behind the birds. I looked down at the ground. Two little shingles sat on the ice. I bent over and picked them up. One was the shingle I had knocked off the mail box from earlier, but the other was a beat up and faded shingle. It was small but it was engraved. In little letters it spelled out COURAGE. A single tear dropped from my eye and onto the little piece of wood. It stained the surface around the little letters. I looked up as a fierce wind smacked my hair out in every direction. Wisps of brown hair stuck to my tear stained cheeks. I titled my head to look at the mailbox. It really could use a touch up. Then I smiled. Grandma would have wanted that. Then I slid the engraved shingle into the spot where the former one had fallen. It fit perfectly. Grandma would have wanted that too…





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Blueskies4evah232 said...
Nov. 30, 2010 at 5:31 pm
I really loved this. It was inspiring and I nearly cried!
 
Mariah_13 replied...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 6:30 am
Thank you... I'm glad you liked it so much. :) Check out my other work!
 
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