The Red Envelope
Don’t cry, love. Enough tears have watered the flowers on my grave. It pleases me to see you, but isn’t there somewhere else you’d rather be on Valentine’s Day? It’s been two years since the accident. A long time to linger and watch you do the same.
You stand in the snow like a blackbird without song, staring in front of you for so long that I foolishly think you might see me. But it’s not me you see beyond the winter-torn trees or beside the gilded letters in the marbled stone; you’re looking into that faraway place only the widowed see.
I wrap myself around you, but neither of us can feel it. Memories won’t keep you warm.
Are you going home? Or to town, perhaps? I worry when you drive. Thank heavens you weren’t in the car that day. Don’t ever think otherwise.
There wasn’t any pain; they didn’t lie about that. It was over so suddenly. A day like any other until there were no more days.
I’m okay now, Tessa. Will you be okay, too?
Home sweet home. Hey, did you see that? The red envelope in the pile of mail you tossed on the dresser in the hall. My body shrinks, smaller and smaller, as I slip inside and read the card. It’s from him. Mark, from the office.
I’m not sure what you see in him, but he seems like a decent guy. His dogs love him, and he flosses. His jokes are terrible at best, especially the one about the penguin and the ice machine, but he makes you smile, even laugh sometimes.
He’s waiting for you at Rocco’s Café, you know, hoping you might change your mind. He has chocolate and roses and a sinking feeling he’ll never be enough, never be me.
What good am I now? I can but watch as dust settles over everything that used to bring you happiness: your hiking shoes at the back of the closet, your bird guide and binoculars. Who will help you build birdhouses in spring when I can’t even pick up a nail?
Your happy days aren’t over, Tessa, but I don’t know how to give you more.
You’re curled up on the sofa with a cup of soothing herbal tea. I fall beside you, leaving no indentation on the seat. Wisps of steam rise from the hot liquid, evaporating like our shared dreams.
But this isn’t the end, not for you, love. There’s not much I can do, but I think I know the way. A gentle push is all that’s needed. The rest is up to you.
Soon, you’ll crave another cup of tea. On your way to the kitchen, you’ll have to cross the hall. When the red envelope lands at your feet, and you look for the breeze, it’s not the wind.
Don’t cry, love.