“Miss!” I called out behind her. Although I was close enough to her to hear her sniffles, she didn’t bother to turn as I called out to her. She continued to run and cry, as if some nightmare was playing out, and as if she was being chased. I stopped. She was obviously lost in her moment, and couldn’t, or chose not, to hear me. I picked up the letter that had fallen from her purse and looked at the messy handwriting that read “Dearest Jennifer” on the envelope. I had known many Jennifer’s in my 31 years, and at a young age, preferred that name over the one that my parents chose for me. I giggled as I thought about that to myself. Jennifer definitely didn’t suit me. I turned and continued about my way. I was now a few minutes late for my Saturday lunch date with my good friend Sarah. Sarah and I hadn’t hung out in months, and some good old ‘girl time’ was much overdue. Anytime the stresses of life seemed to get the best of me, nothing beat a good old laugh with Sarah. Her quick wit, good advice, and overall calm “if it is to be, it will work it’s way out” demeanour usually made my worries float away. She had such a strong belief that where we were was where we were supposed to be – every single experience, success and failure, happened for a reason. Believing as such, she thought that nothing was ever too big of a deal, it was either a blessing, or a lesson, and because eventually, ‘it will work it’s way out’. I smiled at the thought of hearing those words. Life wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t exactly good…or…it wasn’t how I wanted it to be. I was over worked and over stressed at my job. As usual, I felt as if I was in the middle of family issues that didn’t really have anything to do with me; but I was the mediator, and sick of that role. I needed a break; a moment where I didn’t have to deal with people and their shit. I was getting a little sick of dealing with problems that were not my own. I didn’t cause them, and they barely effected me, yet here I was in the middle, why? Because I was family. I was, what felt like, the only level headed family member, and as family, I just had to be there…whether I was sick of it all or not. Derek and I had been married now for 6 years. We had an amazing marriage. He was loving, considerate and helpful. He was my best friend, confidant, and supporter. He was an amazing father and husband and the one thing that seemed to be all right in what felt like my crazy little world. We had a 3 and a half year old son, Eric, who was as much the light of my life as he was the headache. After a long, difficult day at work, I didn’t have the energy or patience for him, his tantrums, and his demands. And I hated myself for it. I struggled to balance my husband’s needs, my son’s needs, my work needs, my home needs, and my own needs. The latter which I actually no longer recall. It felt as if it had been so long that I took some time to satisfy my own needs, that I no longer even remembered what they consisted of. That is where I was at.
“Char!” My moment of self pity was interrupted by Sarah’s typical high pitched scream of my name. It was annoyingly cute, and I was happy to hear it. I greeted her with the greatest smile and squeezed her just as tight as she squeezed me. “This is waaaaay too overdue you know.”
“Oh, I know!” I answered back, unable to wipe that grin from my face.
“How’ve you been? You’re so busy lately. I miss us.” She stated as she pursed her lips and gave me that sad puppy dog face. I took a deep breath and scratched the nape of my neck. She took a step back from me and tilted her head with concern. “Oh boy.” she began. I bit my bottom lip and shifted my eyes up and away from her line of sight. As much as I loved talking over my life issues with Sarah, I hated it. She was still single living solo in a nice apartment downtown. It was amazing we still got along so well; our lives were almost opposite to each other. But somehow, after all these years, our friendship still worked. Even though our lifestyles were so different, we were still so much alike. Her perspective made sense and I secretly wished her non-chalant mentality would rub off on me. Even if it didn’t, just hearing her calming words made things feel a little easier. “What is it, Char?”
“Lets go eat.” I responded, as I grabbed her hand and moved in the direction of Roxie’s, our favourite restaurant since we were young university girls.
“What’s this?” She removed her hand from my grasp, taking the letter that I had forgotten I was holding.
“Oh my gosh, I totally forgot I had this. Some lady was running off in tears and this had dropped from her. I picked it up to give it back to her but she didn’t hear me.”
“Well…what is it?”
“You’re so nosey, Sarah. I don’t know.”
“We can’t return it to her now, so we might as well find out what it is.” She smiled with her typical menacing grin. She loved being up to no good. Before I could even respond, she had torn the envelope open and started unravelling the letter. “Ha! It’s a handwritten letter. Who even writes these anymore?” We giggled. Times had definitely changed.
“Well…what does it say?” I inquired.
“Ha,” she looked up, “who’s nosey now?” Her eyes shifted back to the letter. As they widened, so did my curiosity, so I peered over her shoulder to read the letter too.
We both stood there, in the midst of busy downtown pedestrian traffic, still, quiet, and enthralled by the words handwritten on this paper. I knew she was done reading it once she took the same slow exhale that I did.
“So,” she began, “what was your issue again?” I thought about that question as all of my ‘problems’ seemed like beautiful little blessings after reading this letter written to this Jennifer. A tear rolled down my cheek.
“Nothing,” I was able to mutter out, as I quickly wiped the tear. “Let’s go get some lunch.”
Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path.You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.