The Letter

A Story a Day May 15 POV first person
The Prompt: Write A Story In the First Person

A letter arrived in the mail today. That can’t be good. It’s never a good sign when a letter comes, from anyone, anymore. The world has gone to hell in a handbasket, and I’m not in the mood to jump on that band wagon – or basket, if you will. No good can come from the mail.

I look at the front of the envelope. Typed, not hand written. So it’s not personal, I don’t think. On the other hand, nobody writes personal letters anymore. Everything is email, or, if you’re young – which for me, that was 800 years ago – it’d come as a text. But I’m letting my mind stray, probably because I just don’t like that this letter is here. I don’t even like the feel of it. It’s not really got weight to it, but something is inside. Something nefarious.

What’s odd is there’s no return address. That’s really making me uneasy. Who doesn’t put a return address on a letter? I’ve seen in the computer mail, some things come in blank in the ‘who from’ part. You know, then, that it’s what the people in the know call spam. Garbage, I call it.

I turn the envelope over. Maybe it’s on the back, like the way people use to do that, sending letters. I remember I always wrote my name and address on the back flap, not in the upper left corner of the front of the envelope. But this is one of those, how do they say it, legal size envelopes. There’s nothing there. Still, it’s sealed, which means… nothing really.

I put the letter down on the table, and pick up the other mail.

A bill. Another bill. These go in their own pile next to The Letter.
Ah, an advertisement. “It’s the waste can for you.” I drop it into the plastic kitchen bucket. The next one goes in there as well. It’s one of those post cards from a car wash company. Why do they even bother. Who is going to go get their car washed all the way across the river?

The next piece is from St. James Church. It must be the receipt they forgot to give me for the mass card I picked up on Monday. Reaching for my letter opener, I slip it into the space between the envelope and the flap, and RIP! Yes, it’s that receipt. Good. I’ll put it inside, for later. It goes on the table, a third pile.

Oh for Pete’s sake, will you look at this? Fliers. Do they seriously think I have an interest in all the sales in all the stores? I swear, there’s more garbage in the mail than real mail.

Shoprite: “In you go to the basket.” It slips from my fingers into the  receptical.
Price Chopper: “In you go to the basket.” Likewise, I drop it in.
A&P: “In you go to the basket.” I add this one too.
Ace Hardware: “They don’t even spell my name right, on it!” Plop

It’s such a waste, all this paper.

Picking up the first bill, I note it’s from Comcast. I smile. What would I do without television? What would I do without my stories? I slice the envelope open, and pull out the two page statement, and drop the outer envelope into the basket. Picking up the small stapler I keep on the table, I put the two pages between the top and bottom and press them together. It makes a clicking sound. There. Nice and neat. Along with the envelope I put it back on the bill pile, and pick up the next bill. It’s from the electric company.

This time of year, I don’t mind so much getting this. Between the cold and hot seasons, either side of the year, it’s comfortable enough to just wear an extra sweater, and my nice fleace slippers, from L.L. Bean. A nice cup of coffee in the morning, and Hot Cocoa in the afternoon with lunch, and hot soup at night with dinner, and I’m warm as a bug in a rug. Is that right? I think it’s “snug as a bug in a rug.” Oh well, who cares. Doing the same, I did with the cable bill, I’m finished with the mail. I pick up the two bills, and then I see The Letter, sitting there, all by itself, in the middle of the table.

I turn my back on it to take the bills over to my desk, where I’ll write a check for them, and mail them out tomorrow. I return to the table, and stand there looking down at the white envelop.

“So little anonymous letter, what have you brought me?” But I hesitate picking it up. What if it is bad news? But what if it is good news? Of course, the only way to find out is to open it.

Before I have a chance to make my decision, the phone rings. Saved by the bell!

I lift the receiver. “Hello?”

“Coleen?” It’s Anita.

“Anita. How nice to hear from you.”

“Yes, yes, but we talk everyday.”

“Uh huh, that we do. And it is always nice to hear from you.”

“I have something to tell you,” Anita says.

“Oh, yes, dear, please tell me.”

“Well, today, in the mail, I got a letter.”

I felt my heart skip a beat. “Who was it from?”

“That’s just it, I don’t know.”

“Well, did you open it?” I asked her.

“Not yet. It’s a plain white envelope, with no return address, or even a company logo.”  She sighed.

“Well, Anita, you’ll be interested to know that I also got a letter. It sounds like it is just like the one you got,” I explained. “Was it type written?”

“Why yes. It was. How did you know?”

“I just told you, I got a letter myself, Anita. Weren’t you listening to me?”

“Yes, yes, of course. And have you opened your letter, Coleen?”

“Well, no. I was taking care of my other mail, first. You know, bills, and putting the fliers into the garbage.”

“What do you think the letter is, Coleen?”

“I can’t say. I haven’t given it much thought.” I wondered why I just lied? Was it to make Anita less frightened? She sounded frightened. Or maybe I was hearing through my own discomfort, and she really sounded excited? That can happen, sometimes, hearing things one way from how another hears them.

“When are you going to open it?” Anita inquired.

“I don’t know. When are you going to open yours?”

“We could open them together,” Anita suggested. That was a possible good thought. If we looked at the letters together, it might not feel so ominous.

“Do you know anyone else who may have gotten a letter like this?” I asked.

“Nobody was down by the boxes when I got my mail today.”

“Same here.” I thought for a moment about her recommendation.

“Did you know that Imelda Sanchez was taken to the hospital this morning?” Anita suddenly said.

“No! I had no idea. What happened?”

“I don’t really know. I just saw the ambulance in front of her building, and I saw Paul getting in after they put the stretcher in.”

“Oh my goodness. I hope she is going to be okay.”

“Me too. You know, it was about an hour after the mail truck left. Now that I think about it, I saw Imelda go out and get the mail, earlier. She looked just fine.  I was going to go down to the mailboxes here, to get my own, but I had to finish the dishes. I was going to go down and get my mail, and I saw the paramedics bringing her to the hospital.

“Okay, Anita, why don’t we open them together.”

“You want I should come over with mine?” Anita asked.

Oh that was a good idea. Two together is stronger than one. If there is something going on, we will at least have each other to lean on. “Yes. Why don’t you come over. I’ll put on some tea.”

After I hung up, I went to put the kettle on, and took out two cups and two saucers from the cupboard. What did I have to go with it? I looked in the refigerator. Oh, good, I had half a pound cake left! I took it out, and put it on the counter, and retrieved two cake dishes, and a knife, and utensils for our tea party.

Ten minutes later, a knock sounded at the door. I opened it, and Anita, and Sadie were standing there.

“Look who I found when I came down to come over here. Sadie was just getting her mail, and guess what? Sadie got a letter too!”

“Come in ladies. I will get another setting for Sadie. How are you, darling?”

“Oh, you know. My lumbago,” Sadie said, her hand going automatically to her hip.

“Don’t I know it.” I waved them over to the table, and went to my kitchenette.

“Sadie said she had no idea who the letter was from, or where it came from,” Anita filled me in.

“But I heard Imelda Sanchez went to the hospital after getting it,” Sadie chimed in.

“So you know they got one too?” I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.

“Well, you got one, and Anita got one, and I did too. So it goes without saying they must have gotten one.”

“But can we really assume the two situations are connected?” I asked.

“Oh, I suppose not.” Sadie shrugged. “But don’t you think it is strange that there is no identifying information on the envelope? And there is no stamp.”

I turned and looked at my own letter, still sitting in the middle of the table. With all the mystery, I had not even realized, there was no stamp on the outside. Not even a post mark! Now things were starting to look even more mysterious.

“I was telling Sadie we had decided to open our letters together. She thinks it’s a good idea,” Anita explained.

“Oh sure, the more the merrier.” I brought the kettle over and poured the water into each cup. “Help yourself to a piece of cake.” I pointed to the sliced pound cake I had put out just before they knocked.

“Oh I don’t mind if I do,” Sadie said, reaching for a slice. She lifted a slice, brought it to her dish, and reach back for a second slice, and offered it to Anita.

“Thanks, hon.” Joining the group, we drank and ate, and talked of insignificant things. For a few moments I was just enjoying refreshments with friends.

We could have continued chit chatting longer, but the suspense was getting to me. I picked up my letter. “So,” I said, holding the letter up. “Shall we proceed?” Anita pulled her own letter from her house dress pocket, and Sadie pulled her from a plastic bag holding her other mail. I took up my letter opener, and ripped open the envelope, then handed the opener to Anita, who did as I had, and passed the opener to Sadie.

“I feel like we’re in some sort of secret society,” Sadie said. I thought she looked more excited than hesitant.

“Sure, and we’ve just gotten our next assignments from Mr. Waverly. Remember him, the head of U.N.C.L.E. ?”

“Oh, my yes!” Sadie enthused.

“And that Illya Kuryakin. Such a nice looking young man.”

“Well I feel more like Nancy Drew, in one of her mystery moments,” I remarked. “Let’s pull out our letters together.”

We each slipped the single folded sheet of paper from our envelopes.

“And the winner is,” Anita announced. I looked at her puzzled. “Okay come on Coleen, it feels like an academy award envelope.”

“Either way, Anita, are we ready to open these letters already?” I felt squeamish. We all nodded, and unfolded the paper.

Here there was letter head. We all recognized it. “The Sheriff,” Anita said.

“Of Nottingham,” I said, my blood pressure rising as I saw the enclosed information.

“Is he kidding? Raising the rent again this year?” Anita said, ire in her voice.

“I can’t afford this!” Sadie said.

“And what’s with the plain unadorned envelope?” I said. “Was he afraid if we saw it was from him, we’d throw it away?”

“So much for the mystery,” Anita said, refolding her paper, and putting it back into the envelope.

“Yes.” I responded and followed suit, as Sadie did the same.

“This time next year, ladies?” We all nodded agreement. They left, and I cleaned up the dishes. I smiled. Another successful annual event had come to a close. I wondered what our next great adventure would be.