'The Letters' excerpt
Disclaimer: this is a copywrited excerpt of a story that’s currently in-progress; it’s had a small amount of editing but is in no way considered to be in a final state—it may not even end up in the final draft! For these reasons I’m not looking for any feedback or suggestions. Also, I’d appreciate it if you please don’t share or repost. Cheers.
The letters were there again. I couldn’t believe it. Addresed to a house at the end of the street but for some reason they’d been shoved in my mailbox.
The first time they appeared I just walked them up the road. I knew the address: the old, original house at the end of the street on a huge section encircled by a large wrought-iron fence. It had once been the only one around for miles, and I’m pretty sure the land had been used as a fruit orchard of some kind. Over the years parts of the orchard had obviously been sold off—suburbia had sort of grown up around it, with our neighbourhood of tract houses—but I’d looked it up on the internet and it still had quite a bit of land, with lots of trees and a long driveway.
The big green gate was locked shut across the drive, but fortunately the mailbox was built in to the gate, so it was easy enough to just shove the letters inside and head back home. It was an innocent mistake, that was all. Just a mis-delivery, like when you get an unexpected package on your doorstep.
At least that’s what I thought, until the letters showed up again, a few days later. There’d been two the first time, and now another had joined them, all three with the same handwriting on the front, and the same pink envelopes, light and thin, but expensive-feeling. Both made me think of the sort of letters a high school girl at a fancy boarding school would write, though I wouldn’t have the first clue about either of those things.
Maybe the mailman was pranking me. I took them inside, and then had the thought to hold one up to the window. I stood by the sink, peering through the thin paper. I could make out the odd bit of text, though it was hard to read because the letter inside had been folded over itself several times: worried…please read…reply… And on and on.
There was no return address, which I guess is why the letters kept appearing back in my mailbox. I was torn between throwing them in the bin, having my mailman up about it, or actually opening one so I could figure out what to do.
In the end, I threw them in the bin. I mean seriously, I’d done a few things in my time, right, but I drew the line at snooping for the sake of it.
And besides, I’d tried to get the letters back to the guy three times by that point; the first, like I told you, when I shoved them in the mailbox. Then there was another time when I threw them on the front doorstep after no-one answered the door. (The knocker gave me the creeps though, one of those brass ones with a plate underneath, only this was in the shape of an open, monstrous mouth.) And lastly, I’d written on them and shoved them in the post box by the library, where there’d be no mistake about delivery.
But they came right back again, with another little friend keeping them company. Three letters. I’d had enough. It had been a nice little mystery while it lasted, but seriously, it was nothing to do with me, apart from my mailbox turning into some kind of holding zone for these misplaced missives.
Someone. Else’s. Problem.
Anyway, after I threw them away I felt a huge weight vanish. I know it sounds wussy, but they’d really been bothering me. I happily went about my day. Now that I was on one of those zero-hour contracts, “happily going about my day” meant sitting around, waiting for the phone to ring.
I played scrabble against my computer a few times, and when lunch rolled around I had a few beers, figuring Louis (my boss) wasn’t going to call. I got a little buzzed, rang my mum at the home. I could hear daytime TV in the background—you know that infomercial guy? I guess he keeps Mum company now Dad’s taken off with the woman he met at AA.
But wouldn’t you know it, while I was making dinner—OK, microwaving it—I heard this weird ‘thwap’ sound outside the front door. Like something flat landing on the doormat. I got my dinner out and while it was cooling off a little on the breadboard I went to see what was at the door. My sister Sheila said she’d found some of our grandpa’s old “Popular Mechanics” mags from the sixties and she was going to drop them round. Just like her to not actually say hello or anything. Maybe I’m stupid, but that’s what I thought it was.
But jesus, there was the stack of letters I’d thrown in the bin that morning. Four of them now. Even worse was that they looked clean. Seriously, I’d dumped them on top of a pile of coffee grinds that morning and now as I bent down to pick them up (my hands were shaking at that point) I saw they really were spotless, apart from my own angry scrawl on them in red biro: WRONG ADDRESS!!!!!! I know it was immature of me, using so many exclamation marks. But I’d been frustrated.
Now though, I was scared.