I wrote this short story for a contest on Fanstory. The prompt was to write about a tattered, stained letter with no return address.
“Sir, your truck is fixed. Also, I found this wedged behind one of the seats.” The auto repair man handed the mailman a tattered, stained letter.
“Oh, thank you.” The mailman replied as he stared at the letter wonderingly. It had no return address. How strange! It looked old. How long had it been lost? Its delivery address was on his mail route.
The mailman dropped the letter into a stack of outgoing mail, even though he felt tempted to open it and read the mysterious message. The next day he came to work and was assigned his mail bag. He rifled quickly through it, looking for the letter. It was there. When he arrived at the address on the envelope, he put in the mailbox.
The next day he approached the house where he had delivered the tattered letter. He opened the mailbox to put the day’s mail inside. The stained letter was laying there, with a post-it note attached to it stating in red letters: Recipient doesn’t live here. A strong curiosity overpowered him. I want to read it. What kind of message would be inside? It looks personal and old.
The next day, the mailman didn’t find the letter in his delivery bag. Still intrigued by it, he rifled through a box that held undeliverable items. The tattered letter was among them. He secretively put it into his pocket and left to begin the day’s work. When his shift was over he drove to a nearby coffee shop.
He slid into a corner booth and mused about the strange letter in front of him. The recipient wasn’t found. What could it hurt if I read the letter? I know I’m not really supposed to, but my curiosity is killing me.
Why didn’t the person include a return address? Is it because they are wanted by the police? Was the person too ashamed to write the return address, for whatever reason? What if this letter would have repaired a relationship, but it was never delivered? Is it a murder threat, or a murder warning? Since it was never delivered what were the consequences? Was it some other type of warning that was never given? Would this letter have saved someone’s life?
He knew his mind was wandering as he sat examining the envelope. Why is it stained? It looked like someone had spilled juice on it, or was it blood? He sipped his coffee and sighed. Alright, I’m going to open it. It will probably just get thrown away anyway.
He broke the seal hurriedly, knowing he was doing something that he shouldn’t. It felt weird to be reading a letter meant for someone else. He took the paper out of the envelope. It was somewhat ragged too.
April 18, 2007
If your love is still as fervent as it was last June, meet me at the downtown Starbucks on April 26 at 8:00 PM. I’ve never forgotten you and I still love you. I’ll be there waiting. If you don’t come, I’ll have my answer: our love was simply a summer romance and nothing more. But, if you do come, we can run away and start a life together. The obstacles that parted us will not be able to stop us this time. Do not, under any circumstances, let anyone know about this meeting.
The mailman stared at the letter. The date showed that the letter was from seven years ago. He had not guessed it would be a letter between two forbidden lovers. I wonder how long Michael waited for her that night. Is he still mourning her loss? Or was he able to move on? What were the circumstances that tore them from each other? It may have been a good thing that this letter was lost for all those years. It may be that Alexandra is now happily married and perhaps, has a child? If she saw his note now, it could cause discontent in her. It could reawaken her feelings for Michael. On the other hand, what if Alexandra was never able to move on and is still mourning the loss of her beloved?
He pushed these thoughts away. He put the letter back in his pocket and left the coffee shop. Fate’s a strange thing, that’s for sure.