I mean, really… A letter from one of my pen pals who finally wrote back, sweepstakes scams, advertising materials (remember that this was before the internet came into common usage, and a lot of future spam emails were still in snail mail form) – something.
And yet I never did receive any forwarded mail from you.
What did you do with it?
You had to have read my name, and in that moment, registered my existence. Did you think of me then? Or did the simple fact of my being in the world pass through your mind with the briefest of acknowledgements, like so many snippets of information rarely mulled over? (Mercury is the closest planet to the sun; Charles Dickens’ favourite flower was the red geranium; botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit…)
And then what? Did you throw it away? Because I wasn’t worth the effort, or because you deemed the material to be unworthy of anyone’s time, or because you wanted to discard any trace of me without further thought or commitment. Or did you let the envelopes pile up – a testament to your denial and inaction – until it became unmistakable that you weren’t going to send them on their way; weren’t going to acknowledge not only my existence but also my current whereabouts, scrawled in your own handwriting? Perhaps you bothered to at least indicate my non-whereabouts with an “RTS” – return to sender; no one here by that name.
I used to dream that I would visit the house and check the mail box before you got home.
I had one of those dreams again last night, even though you’ve long since moved away, and most likely neither one of us has received mail there for quite some time.
I was excited to discover two envelopes and a little parcel bearing my name, and triumphantly claimed that which was mine. Then I saw your car approaching, and hid in a bush, and when you pulled into the driveway I ran away, down the street and then other streets that have probably long forgotten me, but which I can still see and feel and navigate and are at once more distant yet more like home than anywhere else I have ever known.
Candy Caradoc lives in Melbourne, Australia. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Linguistic Erosion, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Subtle Fiction and Dog Horn Publishing’s anthology Women Writing the Weird.
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