Short Stories

Ashes to Ashes

letters-burned

It was cold outside; winter had finally begun with its low temperatures and endless rain. It was, for me, the preferred kind of weather. I poured myself a glass of red wine then walked into the living room and turned the light on. The white envelope was still patiently lying on the coffee table just as I had left it. Some days – or maybe weeks – had gone by since I received it, but for some odd reason I had forgotten all about it. I put my glass of wine on the table next to the envelope, looked at it for a while, then headed to the fireplace and proceeded to light the fire. The room was chilly and I needed the warmth.

I lit the fire in the fireplace and sat on the red sofa facing it. It had been a long day and my strength was fading. Outside I could hear the rain start to fall, creating different beats as the drops hit the window. It reminded of me a life that I had ended in favor of starting a new one. And yet, there was that white envelope, sitting there like a white ghost of that life, staring at me, daring me to take a plunge into the past. The flames of the fire were starting to flare, radiating the much needed warmth into the room.

I grabbed the wine glass with my eyes staring at the envelope. I wondered what it could be thinking of if it had the mental capacity to do so.

****

“I sat there, patiently waiting for her to grab me, to find out more about me. But she was a coward. She could not even look at me long enough! What a pussy! She is bigger than I am, and yet there she is: confused and scared of me. I have to admit, though, that it gave me a sense of power and authority. I felt strong; as though I had the ability to shape her whole world with just the few words that I hold inside. I smiled, but I am sure she could not see my smile as she was all wrapped up on her thoughts, ones I could almost hear; I could almost touch her fear. Poor woman, incapable of facing me despite my tiny size. “Coward”! I shouted it out but she could not hear me. I wonder why she had become so deaf and dumb.

I felt sorry for her, sitting there with a glass of red wine, staring at me, unable to make a move. She did touch me once, or twice maybe; but she quickly threw me down as though I had caused her pain; as though I had sent an electric current into her whole body through her fingers – those rough and coarse fingers. She really could use some cream!”

****

I guess some time had passed by when I finally came back to my senses and gathered my strength and courage. I put my wine glass down on the table and grabbed the white envelope with determination. I still was not sure I was ready, or even wanted, to know what its contents were. But I knew that I had to do something about it; I had waited a long time for this envelope. I flipped it to the back side and read the return address again. It was still the same address I knew too well; but I was also fully aware the tenants had changed. For a moment, I allowed that envelope to take me back to a life that I had left behind, and the images started to play before my eyes. However, I smart not to let the past conquer my present.

I stood up. I had made up my mind and there was no turning back; no returning to the demons that almost stole my soul and left me lifeless. I walked towards the fireplace and carefully ripped the edge of the envelope, then slowly pulled out the letter. I could read the writing on it, and was able to make out a few words. A loud thunder struck, as though warning me of the consequences of my actions. I smiled. The rain outside was pouring, its tunes loud and incomprehensible to the human mind.

I knew for certain that I was on the right track. I looked at the empty envelope in my hand one last time, then threw it into the fire. I then looked at the letter that was now exposed to the naked eye, the blue ink and the child-like handwriting visible on the reverse side. I tossed the letter and its contents into the fire, and watched as it slowly turned to flames and then to ashes.

A sense of relief came over me; I knew that I had finally put the past to rest. I was looking now towards the future, to a new beginning. I did not want to go back in time, nor hold on to what had long gone. I was determined to write new chapters in the story of my life; to create new memories; and to sing old songs with a new melody..

I sat on the sofa and took a sip of the wine. “The end is only a second chance for a new beginning”.

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