Thursday, June 9, 2011

Letters Unsent

Before I removed all my old posts not pertaining to my current incarnation of this blog I had posted a short story I wrote a long time ago. I recently got an email asking me to repost it so for my lazy Thursday post here it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Letters Unsent

The gusting wind, full of rain that soaked in an instant, rushed at and banged the oak door when the hunched man opened it to get into his disheveled home. The wind had stirred some stacks of papers that were the memories of some letters to a forgotten sweetheart. Letters that were wrote with the kindest of care and thought but lacking that same approach when it came to sending them. The rustling of those stacks of memories had the most gut wrenching effect on the man, causing him to drop the groceries and hurl himself across the grimy kitchen floor to the sink crowded with dishes from meals long past. In the hustle of the moment the memories were gone as quick as rodents when a light is turned on and with the vanishing memories the aversion of his stomach.

He walked dully over to the torn bags of groceries and picked up the dented cans of Pork’n Beans, dented not because he dropped them but because he liked to save the forty cents a can. The cans lay next to some generic brand of instant macaroni and cheese, its boxes crushed from the drop. It was of little concern to the soaked man. He picked up his paltry selection of food and looked gravely at his kitchen with the same apathy that he aimed at his crushed food stuffs; there was no room for the new food amongst the rejected refuse of his furious kitchen. The sink was full of mold incrusted dishes, looking as if they could themselves have leprosy. His countertops entombed with caked on food splattered from meals cooked in the long past. The groceries would be fine on the floor. He dragged them to the corner where his three legged table stood, forever leaning, mocking the architectural achievements of man. One of the bags, still untorn from the drop got caught on one of the many shreds of discolored linoleum that had peeled back away from the cupboards and walls as if curling in on itself. The final resting place of the groceries was in a cenotaphic heap next to the heating vent on a patch of floor where the manic linoleum had already deserted.

The doorbell rang and the man sauntered over to the door. He looked through the peephole it was a little girl guide. She wanted him to buy their mint-cream cookies. The man rummaged through his pockets looking for enough change before he opened the door.

“Poor girl out in this storm.” He commented as he opened the door and slipped through the crack just big enough for his bulge to fit through. The wind that had caused his earlier aversion was calmer and he didn’t even notice it. There he stood across from the girl. “I’ll take one box, please.”

“Would you like two it is by one get one half price?” Squeaked the girl’s reply.

“Sure, Hold on a second” He said and slipped inside his house, leaving the girl in his perfect front yard. The yard was fenced in by the perfect white pickets, mimicking the other fences of the neighborhood. She stood on the marble front step looking at the pristine front door with the man’s complex name written on it. The name was engraved on a brass plate and polished to a mirror finish. The girl turned to look at her mom at the end of the walk of granite. The walk was edged by little budding hedges; buds the color of early morning sky. The girl’s mom was sheltered in the Minivan away from the rain. Her mother was waving her to come to the van.

“Here, have an umbrella you’ll catch a chill if your not careful.” the mother in the van said when the girl had gotten to it. The girl now sheltered turned to the house and got a better look at it now that she wasn’t running through the rain.

The house wasn’t large but it was perfect in her eyes. It had the most wonderful blue siding and a window in the front that was tinted against the sun. The garage was a nice size; a two car. She waddled her way back to the front door. Letting her senses wade through the gardens next to the path. The rain was releasing some of the fragrances from the rare flowers in the man’s flourishing soil.

The man had returned and stood and waited just under the eaves of his house there he stood patiently waiting for her. He had the perfect change and gave it to her in exchange for the now soggy boxes of cookies. After he waved goodbye to the girl as she drove to the next house he went inside.

He walked over to the pile of groceries and dropped the cookies quite unceremoniously on to the pile. The man decided to watch TV in his sty of a living room. As he walked away from the inert pile of food, just after he turned his back, his furnace switched on. A slight breeze came from the congested ducts out of the vent, flapping the torn bags. Instantly the man was overcome by recollections of writing letters on fine paper lightly patterned. His head was reeling; he stumbled his way over to the thermostat and punched it. The thermostat shattered and the furnace was quiet, but not before her face passed before his eyes sending him into sobs.

He awoke cold, more numb than usual. The window in the corner of the room was creaking. He wondered distantly why he was laying on the floor under his shattered thermostat, and a nagging thought asked why it was broken, then shrugged it off it didn’t matter. He got up and walked over to his ratty faux leather chair in his living room. He sat and noticed again the worn out wall paper as it rolled itself down the walls. He reached for his broken remote that had duct tape on the back to hold in the mismatched batteries. He tried to turn on the TV but it didn’t work. He gave the remote a good bang on his knee, which peeked out through one of many tares on his grimy jeans. Tried again, it still didn’t work. The hole in the wall, from where he threw it was just another of many. The light shining through the hole sent the roaches scurrying to the darker corners, corners ruled by horrifying termite queens and their dark armies. The man scurried up to the TV and punched the button; the TV crackled itself on and he crawled back to his chair and hurled his mass of weight into the twisted cushions. The man settled in to watch the tracking screen of the nominal programming he was willing to pay for.

He must have drifted off the sleep but was awakened by the thunderous boom of the window pane smashing against the frail drywall. Rain and wind rushed in and knocked the TV over smashing its stunted screen. The man sat up with a start, hearing the wind, his stomach sending cramping pains through his legs. He went to stand but found out his legs couldn’t hold his weight. He fell smashing his face against the stained and soiled carpet, and grinding his skin against it. It was here in this position of torture that his memories of the past groped at him and he squirmed as fast as he could over to the window. He didn’t want to have the sweet memories of that forgotten sweetheart again. The guilt of not sending the letters would destroy him as it had almost in the past.

Although he tried, he wasn’t fast enough; the musing emotions of the past gripped him and sent him into a fitful coma, haunted by serene visages. Her soft features a stark contrast against the dark night. He was happy here, contrite to reside in this past and look at the gentle curve of her neckline. He could stay here away from the guilt, away from the reality which he had grown to hate. She was simple in her attractiveness. He sat staring at her as he had done in the past. Time passed he did not know how long; he didn’t know what it was that could cause him to pull his gaze from the pristine face in front of him, but he did he looked down at himself and it was the body of reality, obese, putrid and vile. Her face twisted and his anguish was intoxicating as he was flung back to reality his dream shattered against his dark reality.

There were tears in his eyes, streaming down his muddy cheeks leaving trails of pasty skin, as he closed the window. The image of her face twisted was still etched onto his corneas. The TV was beyond repair; its tubes on the inside a crushed history before their time.

With the only distraction from his retched life gone, and no way to suppress the emerged memories, he went to his upturned recliner; decided he should just leave it on its side from when he fell off of it. He stumbled into the wall as he lurched into the kitchen looking for anything to keep his mind busy.

The draft that came from behind him had enough force to pull his legs out from under him. He didn’t need to guess what would be coming after it. The wind of that last night good-bye was haunting him more then usual. He rushed to find the cause of this invasion of noise, his mind racing. Where was it? The crack, the leak, it had to be somewhere, upstairs? No it wasn’t in his room. It was coming from the ceiling, the tile. The memories of his lost love that he swore he would write to were skulking below the surface as he crawled up into the attic. The breeze on his face brought the nausea back from the dead.

There he stood facing his nemesis, the window in the upper corner of the far wall. It threatened to reveal all his pasts. He was surrounded by boxes. He went for the nearest one then the next, stacking them toward his goal. His mind was to busy to drag him into the joyful recollection. He stacked until he thought he would be able to reach the window from the top. He scrambled up to the top level on his knees. The memory of the last time he saw her hit him hard - he on his knees - her on hers - they hugged each other goodbye in the airport. The tears from his eyes were blurring his vision. The window was inches from his fingers; he needed to reach a little more. The persistent memories of the past were hitting him one after another. He remembered there last walk in the park along cobbled walks as her blonde hair was blown in the autumn wind. She was gorgeous in her simple idiosyncrasies; she would cringe at the swans but would coo lovingly at the pigeons.

He reached for the window as that memory faded. He had to reach a little more, it was too far, he reached anyway and lost his balance the window slammed shut and with it the memories, but he was falling.

He hit with a thud. His whole body hurt, it was nice just to feel. He lay there for a minute before he rolled over and for that minute of freedom he thought he finally conquered the past. Although as he rolled over, in the air was his worst night mare; the box he had placed on top of the pile, the one he had been kneeling on had contained the precious mementoes of his past and it had launched into the air after him and now lay gutted. Its beloved contents exposed. The letters on the scented paper were twirling in the air their box lay barren. He was on his feet in an instant, grabbing at them reading snippets from things he’d wrote but she’d never read. “Love you always” “Miss you forever” “I promise I’ll be coming home soon” Every word was true except the promises. There was no way to grab them all. They twirled in the commotion of his heart. When they settled all was quiet.

The middle aged women in her single bedroom basement apartment would never know the letters published, by the new owners of the man’s house, under the title “Letters Unsent” were meant for her but she would forever wonder what happened to the man that said he would write.

That's it for today. I hope you liked it.

Later days.


  1. This is a great story, and I'm really glad I got to read it.

    "Every word was true except the promises. There was no way to grab them all. They twirled in the commotion of his heart. When they settled all was quiet."

    This description is so powerful. It hit me hard.

  2. Well, there are tears in my eyes. That was absolutely beautiful, Hero. I felt every emotional--visualized every scene. Beautifully written!

    On a personal note, I wanted to thank you for cheering for the Mavs when you saw them playing the other night. That was really, really sweet--and it worked...they won! And they won again last night! :)


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