A Love Note

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
My second short story, also for a contest! Let me know what you all think of it!

Submitted: May 26, 2014

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Submitted: May 26, 2014

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A Love Note

“Ten dollars is the starting price for our next item, folks! It’s a post box full of mail that ended up getting lost one way or another! Do I see ten?”

The man in the corner looked up slowly. Slowly was truly all he could do. Time showed its wear on him, to be sure. His wrinkled face was tanned and leathery from years of smiling up at the sun. The wrinkles around his eyes and mouth must have been from smiling as well (one didn’t wish to believe it was frowning), and his hands were rough from work.

He always came to the auctions, but never bought anything. He’d never been interested. Before now.

“Ten dollars folks, c’mon support the up-keeping of our community grounds!” the auctioneer rambled on.

Slowly, the man raised a shaking hand. He was partly sure that no one would notice him – he was always the one who never moved.

But he was noticed.

“Ten! I see ten! Anybody got fifteen? Oh, right over there to the young lady fifteen! Do I see twenty?”

The feeble man turned to the woman bidding against him. She wasn’t a regular. Of course. He raised his hand again.

“Twenty! How about twenty-five? Ma’am  yes I see you for twenty-five! Do I see thirty?”

The man raised his hand again, his heart beginning to sink with the knowledge that he had only thirty-five dollars in his wallet.

The woman cast a dirty glance at him, but stayed silent.

“Going once, twice, sold! To the man in the suspenders for thirty dollars – a steal, really!”

He took no time in waiting. As quickly as an old man could go, he walked into the back to pay his debt and pick up his prize.

It was an old box with a lock on it that had been broken open. Rust roamed around the edges, and time could have surely been seen to have done its duty.

Truly, they were quite a pair. Both so old you couldn’t say quite when they had first seen the sun. So old that when you looked at one, you were sure they were older than the other. But then, you looked at the other, and were convinced it was the other way around.

He drove five miles under the speed limit on the way home (not purposely, his truck didn’t go above 30). When he parked and managed to turn the key in the doorknob, he sat on his couch.

With shaking hands, he felt his prize. It was rough, peeling even, in places. Here and there were marks from where it had been dropped from one time or another. He steeled the pain his fingers felt from his arthritis and lifted the lid.

What greeted him was the smell of dust and decay and old ink. Somehow, it was a wonderful combination.

There were easily a dozen yellowed letters of assorted shapes and sizes. Probably junk mail or bills for the most part. Hopefully among them there would be at least one letter that he could read, simply for the sake of traveling into someone’s past. Anyone would do. It had always been a love of his to learn of people’s pasts, and what better way than reading a letter written to them?

He felt he needed to keep the suspense in play, and not pull them all out at once. He would pull them out one at a time and read them – from biggest to smallest, just so he had some sort of a pattern to go by.

The biggest was almost square, and was the least-yellowed of the bunch. He opened it and found that it contained a square birthday invitation. On the front were balloons, and a large letter ‘8’. So some little girl or boy had never been invited to their friend’s party. They’d never known they had been. Divisions in friendships might have been made, they may have not invited them over ever again… the options were endless.

The next biggest was junk mail, simply an advertisement that was even older than he was. At least, he had no memories of ever seeing it in his lifetime before now.

The letter after that was also an ad, and the next and the next. One was fairly new (and by that I mean created in the last decade), and the other two were for miracle solutions he had seen his mom use when growing up.

The next letter was a little over the half-way point (there were eleven letters, he now realized) and it contained a mass-printed message from a politician. A man named Jerry Walters. His main point of concern was gas prices (apparently at an all new high of forty-five cents a gallon). He snorted a bit at this, thinking of the current gas prices at an average of two dollars and fourteen cents.

The next letter was an ad like the first four, and in fact a repeat of the first ad he’d received. Somehow it didn’t make him feel cheated. Instead, he was lucky. How coincidental that out of eleven letters lost, two would be the same? And the chances that he would have the honor to see such a thing happen made him grin like a boy.

Next he found a bill for a doctor’s appointment. It was numbered at seventy-two dollars and twenty-three cents, and had something to do with a heart check up for a child. He saddened a bit at this and said a small prayer for the child he would never meet.

Finally – finally! – he found a real letter. Well, a postcard. But it counted. ‘Dearest Nate,’ (it read) ‘I miss you out here in Georgia. My mom’s family is hard to get along with, and the girl my age is such a drag!’ (he smirked a little here, thinking of how long it had been since he’d heard that expression used) ‘I also miss New York, and the way the city noises greeted me in the morning. Here all I get are the crows of roosters! It’s truly terrifying. These cards are so small, I’m sorry I can’t say more Nate, dear. Please write me back to make my journey a bit less daunting. All my love, Elise.’

Well, her trip must have stayed ‘daunting’, for Nate never had received her post card. He’d probably been given the cold shoulder when she’d returned… such was young love.

Which, he’d never been much of a part of. Except for that one night… the first time he’d ever told her how he felt… but no, that had ended badly too.

The tenth letter contained another bill, this time for a much smaller amount and only had the information of a general appointment. Probably just a regular checkup that everyone had to get every now and then.

He peered into the almost empty box at the last letter. He felt a strange sense of longing while looking at it. It was so small compared to the others – it almost looked as if it had been homemade – yet it was stuffed full of, well, whatever it contained. The outside was worn, and there were fading drawings encircling the cover.

For sure, this had to be a letter.

He picked it up slowly, hoping against fate that he wasn’t wrong.

The back was covered in a young girl’s (they had to be a girl’s) designs. Hearts and swirls and flowers and circles of very size. Silently, he turned it over.

He had never been known to have heart problems, but when he read the name of the receiver, he was sure his heart would never move again.

Charlie Nealson.

His name.

Except, everyone had called him Charles. Everyone except his parents and…

He forced his eyes to move to the sender’s name.

Laurie Stells.

He broke into a cold sweat, and forced himself to breath evenly. Laurie. Laurie Stells had written him a letter. There couldn’t be chances that slim that another Laurie Stells had known another Charlie Nealson. It had to have been her!

And that meant it was for him.

He moved his fingers to open the letter and his memories came flooding back.

She wasn’t extraordinarily beautiful, but she was pretty. Most of his friends loved blondes, but somehow he’d always liked brunettes better. Her eyes were beautiful – brown, but somehow green and golden in the light at the same time.

The outside broke a bit when he finally managed to pry it loose. With the small break, he felt his walls loosen. With the utmost care, he removed the letter (yes, it was a letter, on old, yellowed, brittle, paper) and set down the envelope.

It didn’t really matter to him that she wasn’t beautiful. He didn’t care that much, to be honest. What did matter to him was the way his heart seemed to melt like a child’s ice cream in the sun, and the way his stomach fluttered like he’d eaten something alive. What mattered was the way she spoke, and the way she looked at him when she though he wasn’t paying attention. As if – he was always paying attention. To her at least.

The letter was fragile, and consisted of two pages folded up as far as they could be. The writing was big and flowery – he remembered that she used to write like that – and made up for the extra space provided. Slowly, he smoothed out the letter and prepared himself to read.

When they’d been at the same party the night it’d all happened, he’d been elated. She was wearing the little brown skirt she liked so much that came to the tops of her knees and a large sweater. Somehow she looked casual yet dressed up at the same time. He had never been to a party, so he supposed that was how you were supposed to look. She’d probably been to far more than he had, anyway. That was it. He couldn’t stand it anymore. He had to talk to her.

‘Charlie,’

It had taken him most of the allotted party hours for him to steel himself to talk to her, but he finally did. And when he did, she smiled like she’d never smiled before. And he noticed it. He also noticed the way her eyes drank in the details of his face when he talked, and the way her lips moved when she answered in her low, soft voice. He had never kissed a girl before, and had never wanted to more than he had in that moment.

‘A lot of crazy things happened last night, but I’m sure you know that already.’

Lucky for him, the parents of the household called in and told their child they’d be home a couple of hours later, which extended the amount of time he could stay there and talk to her. They talked and talked about anything and everything, and even played ping-pong on the same team. He got her a drink when he went to re-fill his own, and he saw the light blush that moved into her cheeks.

‘I’m not saying crazy is bad, or anything, I’m just saying that it was crazy – in a good way.’

He made sure to laugh at all of her jokes, even though they were all genuinely funny. He would have laughed anyway. She ignored all of the other guys there and gave him one hundred percent of her interest, and he did the same to her. He was sure that they were in their own world – probably a whole new world in itself, he would never have been this lucky on earth.

‘Last night was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, now that I think about it, Charlie.’

He steeled himself again and asked her if she was going steady with anyone (he knew, of course, that she wasn’t). She smiled slyly and looked up at him through her long eyelashes.

‘I’ve been wanting to tell you a for a long time how I feel about you, and now, I feel that I can.’

He’d been wrong. She was gorgeously beautiful. More beautiful than any girl he’d ever laid eyes on.

‘Now that I know how you feel, I know I can tell you how I feel, and I know that everything will change.’

She told him if he wanted to know he’d have to come with her, and took his hand. He almost fainted from her touch, but managed to look (he hoped) liked it was a normality for him. His heart racing, he let her lead him into one of the empty side-rooms.

‘I love you, Charlie, but I think you know that already.’

She let go of his hand and took a moment to close the door slowly, looking at her feet. She walked back over to him, glancing up now and then from the ground.

‘After last night, I want so much to believe that you love me too.’

When she reached him, she bit her lip and looked up at him. He almost kissed her then and there when she did that, but he held back.

‘And even though I think you probably do, I want to know for sure.’

She told him to ask her again, so he did. She looked at him through her eyelashes again – how did girls do that? – and shook her head slowly. Somehow, her hands ended up in his, and all he could do was stare in her eyes. Slowly, he tucked her hair behind her left ear.

‘And I don’t want you to think I wouldn’t believe you after last night, I just… it’s one of those things where you need to know.’

But then, he was kissing her, and she was kissing him back.

‘That was my first kiss, I bet you didn’t know that.’

He’d always heard that first kisses were either awkward or horrible. Well, all those people just must have had horrible luck, because this was his first kiss, and it was far from both of those horrors.

‘Sorry, that was off topic, I guess I’m just nervous to ask you to do something to prove to me you love me.’

The best part was probably the kiss, but the second best part was just as great. All he could remember was her lying against his chest with her big sweater practically enveloping her. They just lay there, together, breathing and happy. How long they stayed there in silence, he couldn’t exactly tell. Long enough for the child of the house to warn them that his parents would be home in a few minutes. Long enough for him to never want to leave.

‘I don’t want you to embarrass yourself, if for some reason you don’t want anyone else knowing about us, so I thought I’d ask you to do a simple thing.’

When he woke up the next day, all he could think about was her. Her eyes, her lips, how utterly breathtaking she was. How utterly lucky he was. It was a four day weekend, so he wouldn’t see her till lunch, five days from that day. It seemed like an eternity.

‘Maybe it’s silly that I’m asking you to do this, but I think all girls do this.’

By day two it was getting worse. He couldn’t help but long to see her. By day three his mom asked him if he was sick. By day four, he could barely stay still.

‘When you see me, tuck my hair behind my ear like you did last night – but do it first thing.’

He woke up early – well, that or he just hadn’t fallen asleep, he couldn’t exactly remember – and got ready faster than he ever had. His mom was sure her little boy had been replaced by an angel, and shook her head at him when she saw him running towards the school as fast as he could.

‘Don’t wave, or talk, or even say hi – just tuck my hair behind my ear first.’

Lunch had seemed ages away, but when he reached there, he saw her and it made it all better. She was across the room with her friends, looking around expectantly. He grinned when he saw her, and waved to get her attention. He crossed the room in half a second and smiled at her before saying hi.

‘Then I’ll know, and then if you’re okay with letting people know, you can.’

He didn’t know exactly what he’d expected her to do, but it definitely had not involved her frowning. The second he spoke, her smile disappeared and her eyes held only sadness. He asked her what was wrong, and she shoved her tray at him, telling him he was just a stupid boy.

‘I know you’ll get this before Tuesday, because you only live a street down, and it only takes two days at most for mail to get from here to there in the post office.’

 What had he done? He had no idea where he’d gone wrong. Wasn’t she the same girl who had smiled so brightly at him the night before and kissed him back? She was, wasn’t she? He tried to follow her, but one of her friends told him that if he knew what was good for him, he wouldn’t ever go near her again.

‘You have no idea, Charlie, how long I’ve wanted to tell you this, and how excited I am to finally be telling you.’

He had to talk to her again, even if he wasn’t supposed to. He would after school, that was it!

‘I’ll see you Tuesday at lunch, Charlie.’

He ran outside so that he could find her before she found him. There she was – walking out the school doors. She still looked so sad, he couldn’t stand it! She reached the bottom of the stairs and stopped on the sidewalk, looking around herself and then up. Her eyes met his, and he waved, trying at a smile. Her expression hardened, as she tucked her hair behind her ear, just as he had the night before.

‘Love,’

A boy approached her and said something. She smiled a bit, now, and even let out a small laugh. But it wasn’t the same smile as the night before, it wasn’t the same laugh. He watched in despair as she looked back at him, full of longing and sadness. Then, she let the other boy link his arm around her waist and turn her away. She didn’t look back.

‘Laurie’


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