At The Crosswords

A weathered green book rests on her nightstand, where beautifully frightening verse lays unread, pressed between the pages. The front cover features a magnetic clasp which has yet to be disturbed. The gift had arrived in mail a few days prior, and it was her option on when to consume the content, if at all. She was unsure what to do, so the story remained unknown, night after night.

He was the kind of man who knew only that he felt, and was good at expressing it. Not in a maudlin or pitiful sense, but in a rugged, authentic manner. Perhaps it could be perceived as weakness that words spontaneously spilled out of him, but they were coherent, meaningful, savory words describing the sound his heart made as she waltzed through it.

From the moment they met, he knew there was something substantial about her. Memories flooded back from before his chin was grey and when lives were simpler. They were kids once, and she made his heart feel young again.

The poetry had accumulated over weeks. Her birthday was approaching, and what better gift than to show in his own hand her influence on his well-defended fortress of a heart?

He dedicated his finest penmanship to each page, each line, each letter. t’s were tall and slender, for grace. g’s swung low for dramatic effect. He thought of writing left-handed, because he could, and because at one time this impressed her.

But this was about the words, not the method.

Sealing the journal in wrapping paper and ribbon, he carried it to work for mailing that evening, never thinking twice about how his words may effect her. She was not one to wax sentimental, but this is who he was, and she seemed to like it.

With a quiet smile, he dropped the envelope in the mail bin, listening for its gentle landing on the sealed packets of other people’s words below.

This was the right thing to do.
The cleats from his cycling shoes rattled through the lobby like a cowboy’s spurs with the few brief steps needed to reach a massive bank of post boxes. The sound of a key turning lock tumblers to open his own tiny portal cut and echoed through the silence. Within the chamber rested one solitary envelope, leaning against the side, seemingly timid and wishing to not be noticed.

A letter from her.

Receiving handwritten mail was one of his favorite things, and an unexpected surprise. It was late and the lobby was empty, so he sat down to reveal his treasure.

The yellow, lined paper unfolded crisply between his fingers as he focused his eyes on the greeting:

Dear John…

A weathered green book rests on her nightstand, where beautifully frightening verse lays unread, pressed between the pages.

This is all he knows. This is what he believes. This is what he dreams, because dreaming any other outcome is more tragic than knowing the truth about words crossing in the mail.

She was still worth the risk.


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