Short Story Sunday: Letters to No One

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The old black teapot was fuming, signaling it’s had enough of that heat and wants to get off the stove right now. Mr. Blinchley on the other hand was in no rush, he lived alone and rarely had company so he enjoyed any sound that broke off the monotone silence, even if it came from a teapot. Plus he felt cold, despite the fireplace going, and a cup of hot tea would help with that more than a barely warm one. It was April, the week of Easter, but it appeared that the weather missed the memo. The temperature was dropping with each passing day instead of rising as it should, so Mr. Blinchley penned it a winter in disguise in his letters.

Maybe it wasn’t just the weather though, Arthur Blinchley was about to enter his ninetieth year of life and age certainly makes some adjustments to the weather forecast. It makes the winds feel heavier, the rain louder, and the sun weaker. Mostly it makes the cold feel colder, and puts a man a season or so behind in attire. For everything beyond that, he decided it’s all a matter of personal choice. We ourselves choose when we give up, when not to get out of bed, and when we stop doing the things we love. The answer Mr. Blinchley was aiming to leave as an example for everyone else was never. That’s why on his work desk where his favorite chair was situated, lied a pile of letters.

Letters were like a piece of magic for him. And since magic strayed from the ordinary and mundane, he never sent any letters around Christmas anymore. He preferred waiting till the Easter holidays. The few months between the two holidays gave him just about the right time he needed to read several times the letters he received, and then to come up with just the right responses they deserved. The longer he was with them the more special they felt. He had set on a mission to live his days alone, and for better or worse he found he excelled at the task. Yet every now and then he felt the loneliness creep in behind his mind and give him distant memories, enchant his dreams with company, force him to wake up with a craving for friendship. The letters helped him with that. They reassured him he still has all that even though nowadays he rarely sees anyone but the milkman, the newspaper boy, and the employees in the shop across the street.

With the cup of tea in his hands to warm the old bones, Mr. Blinchley sat down at his desk, admiring the handwriting he’s mastered over the years. If those letters did not include personal details and told the dreary tale of his life, they might have been considered a piece of art. At least he wanted to think so. Just as he often thought of the excitement these letters might give to his carefully selected recipients. Yet he knew the truth, especially with this new age and technology, is that most of them were likely uncomfortable or ashamed to be receiving and sending written letters.

Arthur Blinchley also pondered why the letters have not been sent yet. You see, they were already written, signed, placed in lovely light yellow envelopes, unpleasantly licked and carefully closed. Now they were simply sitting as a pile, gathering dust and reminding him that one of these cold days he need to put on an extra sweater and head down to drop them off in the closest main box. But for a reason he could not quite perceive, he did everything but that. He even managed to do some household chores he was so diligently putting off as if he had hoped one day when he wakes up they’d all be done in some mysterious way. And while Arthur still found the thought of magic endearing, he didn’t quite fancy mysteries, he just really wished the housekeeping would get done on its own for once.

Not today, he told himself. In his ninety years of life, that was one of the easiest phrases he could tell himself. It appeared simple and short, clean and sweet, even though deep inside it was the root of all things evil and lazy. Might be that’s the plans of villains never go as planned, they always tell themselves not today whenever it comes to executing them. Heroes don’t do that, heroes act. But Arthur had no trouble chewing on that thought, he hadn’t been a hero his whole life so why would he seek that now? Plus heroes were never old either, if they could not save the world at the age of ninety, how could anyone expect Mr. Blinchley to do the things he did in his prime?

Between spinning thoughts during his time at the desk and watching an episode of whatever that was on the TV that he couldn’t recognize, Arthur forgot to have a look at the clock. “Funny thing, time. We stop doing things on its account, but it never stops for us”, Mr. Blinchley thought to himself as he moved to get to his bed. He had what might have been one of the best nights of sleep, even though he might have said that the night before, and the night before that. It was a common occurrence for him to enjoy his sleep.

Yet, as he moved across his apartment, Arthur fell a heavy weight fall on top of him. He extended his arms and leaned toward his favorite chair for support, but failed and made things worse. By pushing the chair down he hurt his left arm when he fell with it on top of the chair. The whole event rumbled the place and the pile of letters fell on top of him. Lying there on the ground, next to his favorite chair and among some of his prized possessions, the letters he wrote to his friends, Mr. Blinchley pondered once again why he didn’t send the letter sooner. Was he too old for such a task? Or did the procrastination delay the thoughts that yet another year of his life had passed? Was it fear kept him back?

In his final moments, Arthur felt maybe it is better that the letters didn’t reach anyone. Maybe it will be a better form of goodbye than any note or words he may have sent them. Sure, his handwriting looked beautiful even though his hand shook when he wrote, but maybe the letters he wrote weren’t worthy of being his last words to his friends. Funny, he thought to himself, we rarely look at it what way and hardly ever accept it, but time does stop on our account.

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