The Letter – a short story

5 Aug

He wasn’t fine. Everything, and yet somehow nothing, had changed. Children still laughed as they ran carelessly around the park, birds still floated effortlessly on the breeze and the street lights still turned on as the sun said goodnight. The world around him reminded unchanged while he fought off silent demons.

The letter – that was the breaking point. The sender, an anonymous person among the masses, could be anyone. The cryptic note, spelled out in a mash-up of cut-up magazine letters, provided no clues as to its sender. The message brief – “French Café. 2:00 PM tomorrow. Look for the red rose. Your instructions await. Come alone, I will be watching.”

It had been years since he’d last been inside, let alone seen the café. So many memories, some bad, but mostly good. That’s where he first saw her – indulging in not just any french pastry, but a caramel éclair. Her expression, eyes closed, tongue peeking out at the corners of her mouth to lick the last bits of lingering chocolate, without ever saying a word, told him it was the most incredible thing she’d ever tasted.

Putting on his courage like a suit of armor, he made the bold move to introduce himself. She was annoyed at first, having been interrupted during her moment of bliss, but he quickly won her over with his goofy smile and quirky personality. She could tell he was trying to hide his nerves – maybe he doesn’t get out much? – taking pity on him, invited him to join her for coffee.

Thinking about that day, a small, mostly absent smile played at the corner of his mouth. He use to think of that first meeting often, replaying it over and over in his mind, wishing he could have been smoother on his introduction, but often deciding it was for the best he hadn’t been. Nowadays, he avoids all reminders of her and the café, but tomorrow he would be forced to return.

Deep in thought as he walked, he hadn’t realized at first where he was. On his left, rundown Mom and Pop shops from his childhood and to his right, the old cemetery where he’d spend many nights as a boy telling ghost stories with friends. Having started down the journey of reminiscing the days gone by, he walked under the old archway towards a well-known old maple tree.

As he walked past, he couldn’t help but run his hand over the tombstones, wondering about the people and the lives they had lived. What were their stories, had they lived their dreams or been taken from this world too soon? Had any of them felt as he did now – empty, alone and with more questions than answers. Did they have demons to face at one time – were they successful at vanquishing the fear.

Seated alone under the tree, he listened to the sound of his racing heart – lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. As the wind picked up he heard it, a plastic rustling sound overhead. “How odd,” he thought, to see a bright blue balloon, probably from a child’s birthday party, caught in the branches of a cemetery tree. “Out of place,” he mused, “just like me,” as he released the balloon and watched the evening wind carry it out of sight.

After a restless night of pacing and nightmares, he made his journey slowly towards the meeting at the café. Eyes darting back and forth, he checked his watch – five minutes to spare thankfully, he did not want to find out what would happen if he was late. As the thunderstorm broke over head, he swallowed the lump in his throat and entered without looking back…


**This short piece is part of The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge where we were instructed to use The Ray Bradbury noun list technique to beat writer’s block. The words in italic are the words that had to be incorporated in the story – I chose to pick five from the list The Daily Post compiled and add one of my own. I wasn’t sure where my story was heading until I was halfway through it! A new thrill for me – someone who likes to plan the plot and details before the first word is ever penned.


5 Responses to “The Letter – a short story”

  1. justinaluther August 5, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    Interesting story. I’d like to read more. (-: I’m somewhat the opposite when I write. I usually have an ending planned and just write toward it.

    • mgibbon2 August 5, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

      Thank you! Endings are always tricky for me – I come up with two or three and can never decide on the best one! i think this will be a work in progress for a while! Glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by! 😀

      • justinaluther August 5, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

        No problem! I’m always happy to find something interesting to read.

  2. wendykarasin August 5, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    Great start – I want to read what happens next…


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