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I opened the mailbox and peered in. My heart skipped a beat in the apprehension that it wouldn’t be there. However, just like the day before, there it was. It sat in its daisy pink covering that smelled faintly of lilac; just as she had years ago. I reached my hand delicately in and pulled it out. Upon pulling it from its nest, I gingerly pressed it to my nose and smelled that long gone scent, oh how I missed it. After filling my nose I let the letter rest gingerly between the fingers of my right hand as I reached out with the left to close the wooden mailbox.
The door creaked under the pressure I exerted on it. It was old, worn down, and practically falling apart but I refused to replace it. The mailbox had come with this house ten years ago and it would remain with the house when I left it. It was apart of it, without it, the house wasn’t whole. It would be just like my leftover bowl of macaroni and cheese from the night before. Never the same, when half of it was sadly missing. The bowl always ended up in the trash and I would not let the same thing happen to this house. This house was my home.
Upon forcing shut the door to the dilapidated mailbox, I stepped back and slowly walked the five feet between the mailbox and the old gate, the letter rubbing against the worn calluses across my fingers. It had been years since I picked up a guitar, yet the calluses still remained as if they were waiting for the day I would reach out for the old instrument, if that day ever came.
Upon making my way to the front door I twirled the letter in my hands. The childlike butterflies began filling my empty stomach. The excitement I always felt upon opening the next letter was inexplicable. It was my own little party, and enough for my old bones.
The neighbors would invite me to come join their gatherings but I just couldn’t let myself go. I hadn’t been to a party in many years and the thought of leaving my home for multiple hours innerved my shabby heart. My house was my womb, leaving it would cause me to cry out in pain when entering that world full of bright lights and scary people. No, I was good in my home.
I had the occasional visitor. There was a little boy who would come and see me once a week. He was the sweetest kid, reminded me of a young fellow I knew years ago. But that young fellow grew up and left to bigger and better things just as this young boy would later do. Hopefully he would come back to visit me.
The young fellow returns once every couple of years just to check to see if I’m still alive. He will only stay for a day, maybe two if I’m lucky. I try to show him my letters but he doesn’t like them. He says I need to move on, find something else to focus my energy. I tell him that this is good for me, but he doesn’t listen. He only sees himself in the situation, not surprising since he takes after his father.
Once inside the house I found my way to the old easy chair in the corner. It was perfect for sitting and watching out the window. It was my main niche during the day. I would look out and watch as the kids would play in the streets, creating circles with their brand new bikes and scooters. I would watch as the parents call them in for dinner. The young ones would protest but eventually follow inside grudgingly for their stomachs call out for food. It was the best spot in this house to be.
There I sat and held the letter between my fingers, in front of my face. The sweetness engulfed me. I treasured the letter more than I treasured the one from the day before. Gingerly, I slid my finger under the flap and started edging it along. The paper curled as the seal was broken. About half way down, the doorbell rang.
It startled me when it did. I wasn’t expecting company.
I made my way slowly to the door. Once there, I undid the top lock and attempted to open the door. It stuck though.
“Bottom lock, dad.” I heard a familiar voice say.
Suddenly I remembered, I forgot to undo the second lock. I turned it to the horizontal position and attempted to open the door. This time, it swung open with ease.
“Hi dad.” The young boy from years ago stood in front of me. The only difference was that he was now a grown man, with him was a little girl.
“Hi.” I managed to say, though my attention was directed towards the little girl hiding behind his leg.
“Dad, this is Claire, my daughter.”
“May we come in?”
“Oh, yes of course.” I moved out of the way and watched as he led Claire inside the room.
“What have you been up to?” He asked.
“Just you know, the same old stuff. I just got the mail.”
I watched as a knowing look past over his face.
“Oh the mail. Anything good today?” A smile spread across his thin lips and the girl played with her hair as she watched the exchange.
“Just a letter.”
“A letter? Claire, did you hear that? Grandpa got a letter!”
Claire stared wide eyed at me, waiting for something to happen.
“I was actually just going to open it. Would you like to read it with me?”
“We would love to.”
I couldn’t help but be surprised. He never wanted anything to do with my letters. He said it was stupid to keep holding on like I was. She had been gone for a while and there was no point in torturing myself.
“Well okay then.”
I led the way over to my easy chair. He and Claire settled down on the adjacent couch.
I picked up the letter and again slid my finger under the seal. Slowly I broke the rest of it and the flap swung open. The letter inside was the same pale pink it has always been. The familiarity comforted me.
I gingerly pulled the piece of cardstock out of the paper envelope and held it in front of me. Here was the moment I waited for all day. Here was the moment that kept me going in life. Here was the moment that would bring my son back to me in the years to come.
On the cover there was a single yellow daisy. Every card was the same and yet every one was different. It was like a new card every time I opened the next letter.
Inside was written a simple message.
Dear John Matthews,
It’s been ten years now. I have been walking a lot on the beach these days, just thinking. Do you remember how we used to think together? Those were the days. It’s sad that times have changed so much.
Tell our little Mike that I love him and his little daughter to be as well. I don’t know if she’s born yet but I know someday she will grace you with her young presence. You were always so good with the kids. I give you credit for that.
Claire Elise Matthews
I set the letter down and sat back.
Mike, my son, reached out to pick it up. He and Claire, his daughter, read the letter from his mother and her grandmother.
The letter came from the beyond. Claire Elise Matthews had been dead for ten years but before she died she wrote a certain amount of letters to me. Every day a new one came. I looked forward to the next one but a part of me knew that it could be the last. Every time I reached inside that magical box five feet from my front gate, I prayed that another one would grace me that day. I had been lucky so far.