Springtime always reminded me of lost opportunities and sad woeful times. The new leaves birthing onto the branches, the birds finding their voices again, and the scent of new beginnings were overwhelming. And it was only by coincidence that the letter should have arrived that day.
I was going out for a walk when I saw the postman closing in. I thought of letting him leave the letters at the door, like always, but something in me wanted me to take those letters and read them– rather than let them sit collecting dust by the door.
“Hello,” I said to him.
The postman smiled and handed me the letter, something very different about him.
“Have a good day, ma’am,” he said and jogged away.
The letters were of the usual– magazine subscriptions, charity, old age homes and discount coupons. But at the end of the sundry pile was an unrecognizable letter. It was stamped and the address on it was handwritten– quite different from the recent computer-generated stickers. And I felt quite happy seeing that. Almost as if someone was trying to keep the love in letters alive with splattered ink.
And then I noticed the way the ‘A’s were written– slightly curved as they began– bringing to mind something I’d thought I’d put away forever.
I know I must now be a speck of dust in your mindful of memories, but please hear me out. It must be coming to you, hopefully, not as a surprise. From the bottom of my heart, I hope I was still alive in you.
I realize I must sound absolutely pathetic when I tell you that it has been exactly two thousand eight hundred and seventy five days, about four hundred and eleven weeks since you left. Pitiful me, I know. I myself cannot understand why I kept counting the days– maybe because the sun seemed to shine a little less and a little of me began to die since then. But that’s only two ways of putting it.
I heard you went to find God in the far east. I still remember how I used to tell you that God and I are not in good terms. And it’s mad that you had to go so far to clear out this one parasite I put in your head. I was always a faithless fellow, calling out to God only when in trouble– and believe me He was terribly tired of me when I pleaded Him for an answer. An answer to why you left.
I still don’t get it, you know.
We were young, I get it. And I had been a really absent minded fellow, trying ever so hard to make you love me. I tried. I begged. I pleaded. And I ruined every little thing that came our way. I am sorry.
If I ever meant anything, it was the time I asked you to stay. You told me you were moving to another city, and I never felt more lost. I cried. And I told you that you should go. You asked me why and I never told you. Well, I said so because you had experienced so much pain here and that not everyone got such a chance for a change. So I asked you to go. I am telling you now. I meant it when I asked you to stay.
I meant it. But somewhere you stopped seeing along those lines.
Well, if you should know, I got a job and a house, or you could at least call it that. I live alone, with a very questionable cat and the old woman living next to my house smells like sage. Remember how much you hated the smell of that? I somehow am reminded of you every time she comes around. I can’t really say I like her smiling through her old thirty-two but anyways.
Wow, I am now running into circles.
I don’t know why exactly I am putting you and myself through this. Maybe out of some sort of idea of vengeance. That I need closure. I am in a support group. For alcoholics. You knew I had a drinking problem, but please don’t think that you somehow accelerated my dependency on it– no matter how much it may be true.
But! Good things do come with bad things. I met this amazing girl at AA. Her name was Lydia. She was the most different of people. But the thing you’d like most about her would be awful ways of trying to bake a pineapple upside down cake. No! No! She cannot do that. Or her ways to wrap presents. Or her awful ways of lying. And then when I started to number down her mistakes… I realized how all of her flaws reminded me of you. Of how you were the complete opposite of her and how much I liked your ways.
It’s almost cruel that I have to live in your memories. And how everything reminds me of you. How every endeavor I take up ends up connecting itself to you. I left Lydia, by the way, because she just brought to mind the perfect version of you. And that is not fair to her, or me. I still see her, though, on the usual AA meetings. She is quite polite to me, which is shocking, given how much contempt I treated her with.
I’d love to know what is going on in your head right now. Because it must be full of those beautiful fiery red embers of anger just waiting to burst out on me. And I’d like them to too, you know, burn through my flesh, leaving permanent scars of your emotions. You must be thinking what kind of a prick I am, writing to you about my failure in love, blaming you. But that was not what I had intended to, actually. I don’t know what I had ‘intended’ to tell you, or what this stupid letter signifies.
Maybe, just maybe, tell you how I feel? Still feel?
And now I sit among the dark—
My mind was adrift in emotions of the letter I had clasped in my hand. A car brushed past me and I was brought back into the real world. The letter was from, whom I now knew, a man lost in time. Or so I thought. His name was Fox and he was a very eccentric man. He had a very vague outlook on life– finding answers where one wouldn’t normally find. There were times I was only lending an ear and barely opening my mouth to say anything; he was so full of stories to tell.
He knew about most anything and was always fascinating me with strange mysteries. I remember one particular time we decided to drive up to the lake house his parent’s owned for a quiet weekend. And I still don’t know how it went from being a quiet getaway to a loud noisy end of our relationship.
And even amongst the orange light of a flickering candle, I could see the anger in his eyes followed swiftly by regret and I could picture his face as I slammed the door at it. It had started to rain and the clouds were roaring. I was barging away when I realized I was getting nowhere, and I returned, not as the loser, but only for shelter.
“Only till it ends,” I said, talking of the rain, but he, being Fox, read between the lines and said something remarkably different.
“Only till you and I end,” he said and smiled, not to my amusement.
I left as soon as the rain stopped clattering on the roof. It was still dark but almost dawn when I quietly picked up my shoes and slipped out the door. He must have awoken hours later, thinking of the nightmare that we put ourselves through. I moved house since then, and I admit almost immediately. I got a job and got married. But I was now wondering where I actually was in the middle of my life’s mess.
And in the next minutes, I was running across the halls, trying to find the keys to my car. Fumbling, crashing into things I finally found it and my hands were shaking as I put the key to ignition. I hadn’t even realized that all the while I was holding onto the half-read letter, now crumpled.
A blue Ford was on the highway breaking speed limits. It was me and I was only waiting for the police siren to go off and ask me to pull over. But somehow, I did not care. I was driving now, out of control towards a perhaps mangled, broken shack of wood where I cut short a story that was supposed to go on forever.
The letter lay quietly beside me on the seat while I jiggled and jumped onto the uneven roads to the lakehouse. Reaching there was always a headache and I did not know how far my car would go. As soon as the road ended, I jumped out of the car, setting on foot. I was running– the mud splashing all over my white sneakers.
But I reached there, finally.
To find, absolutely nothing.
The lakehouse was gone. Burnt down, apparently. The wet sooty remains of the house were kissing the edges of my shoes and soon it started to rain. Almost as if in a bid to mock my present state of mind. I put my hands to my head and I sighed hard.
Brokenhearted, I walked back to my car to finish the rest of the letter.
And now I sit among the darkness and scattered feelings around my room, thinking what should I throw away now just so I can rid myself of you. And trust me when I tell you, I don’t have very much left. I threw away those letters you gave me, your flowers, all of my clothes because they reeked of you– your unforgettable scent of roses still warms me up. I even changed my wallpaper because they had the image of you embedded in them. Now my walls lay bare, hoping for you to come dress them again.
I cut off all my hair, you know. Because I know how much you liked them. I threw away those books you gave me to read. I burnt all pictures I had of you.
All but one.
I still have one, of that day on the beach. It was quite windy and the picture came out blurred, with only your eyes standing out clear. It was the one you hated the most and I loved more than anything. It was like a lighthouse in the dark sea, bringing me home. So I sill hide it underneath my pillow, in hopes that my dreams of you come true someday.
Whenever I turn corners, I hope to see you. As the distance between one day and the next becomes shorter, the want becomes more, and the actuality of it fades a little more. And something dies in me.
I wish you the best wherever you go and in whatever you do.
If you were the sky and I were the sea, I’d conspire with the clouds just so I could caress you again.
Now and always
I just sat there, in my botched car with the rain fogging the windows, with a letter now soaked with my tears or the rain– I could not tell. I felt my chest tighten and a dagger of guilt find its way there. I felt the last night play in my mind and play over and over again.
I drove back home and found myself nuzzled into my bed, to lie quietly forever.
Springtime gleamed with all its glory, showing off now, its colours and cheer. Somewhere in that time of new life and new beginnings, I found myself stopped at a moment lost in time. And in a moment of regret and absolute devastation, I looked at the ‘A’s and cried.