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He is sifting through the junk. The Chewy Bar wrapper, the receipt for $200 worth of groceries, orange juice cartons, left-over Chinese food (looks like seafood lo mien) and a wishbone-he doesn’t make a wish.
When he finds the letter, crumbled up, splotched with grease stains-or is it teardrop stains?
Does he picture the owner of the letter? The writer?
Can he see her pale face as she crushes it?
Her fingernails, painted light pink, digging into the paper, tossing it towards the tissues, the torn magazine cover, the twice-touched broken pen.
He imagines her ponytail whipping the back of her neck as she shakes her head, wipes the tears from her cheeks, and walks away, her bare feet barely making a sound on the white carpet.
He imagines that the letter is from a boy. Maybe someone who broke her heart.
Or maybe not. He imagines her sitting on the porch.
Her grandma calls to her, “You gonna come inside?” but she keeps writing the letter, her hand cramping, but she continues, pouring out her goodbyes onto a sheet of paper that no one will ever read.
A letter that will never be mailed, for a person who is gone.
Or maybe not. He looks back at the letter, realizes that it is nothing but trash.
Meant to be thrown away, undeserving of a space in a drawer, on a bookshelf, in a life.
In a pile of week-old pasta salad, burnt-out light bulbs, and pizza boxes,
Of broken picture frames, moldy salsa in a jar without a lid, and bruised, unwanted bananas, this letter blends right in after he tosses it down
So that soon he cannot pick it out from the mountain of others’ memories.
And as he walks away, with the stench of rotten milk mixed with sewage water circling around him, the lines of her face have grown blurry in his imagination, the letter already buried under a lifetime of trash.