Letter 2

She stepped off the train, her stiletto heels clicking on the concrete platform at Union Station. Her slender fingers slid into her coat pocket to make sure the letter was still there. The letter is what brought her to Chicago in the first place.Her editor thought she was crazy when she burst into his office the day before, giving one day notice that she would be gone for two weeks. She could see the veins in his neck quickly enlarge through his dark brown skin, and his eyes narrowed as they always did when he was angry.“You can’t do this to me right now,” he said. “The story you are working on is too important.”But she had to leave for Chicago the next day. She didn’t tell him why. She just said it was a family emergency.

“We’ll see if you have a job when you get back,” he said as she turned to walk out the door. All her co-workers had listened to everything, though they pretended to be working.

Everyone had treated her differently since her husband died six months ago. It was as if they were afraid she would break if they talked to her. Maybe his sudden death brought mortality too close to home.

She didn’t dare tell any of them about the letter for fear they would think her crazy. It was the second letter she received from her husband since his death. The first one came a couple of days after the funeral, which to her seemed reasonable. He could have mailed it before the car crash that took his life.

But how did he mail a letter to her, postmarked from Chicago, six months later? That is what she intended to find out.

A gust of wind flipped her auburn hair over her shoulder as she headed toward the station. From there, she wasn’t sure where she would go. On the trip from Minneapolis, her journalist instincts kicked in and she jotted down possibilities of where to start – the post office, a lawyer’s office, the police department.

There was no return address on the letter, but the postmark came from a neighborhood post office in Schaumburg, about 25 minutes outside of Chicago. There were no identifying marks on the paper or envelope. They were made out of linen and could be purchased at any stationary store.

The letter was definitely written by his hand. She knew his writing well. During their 10-year marriage, he had left many notes for her in the refrigerator, on the counter, in her lunch box. It was one of his love languages. “This is a little piece of me you can take with you to work. I love you,” was always the last line. This letter was no different.

The letter also included some information about things that have not happened yet – “When you meet Marty, be careful. He is not all he appears to be… You will love Mary. She will become a very important part of your life.”

It was a bit creepy, and even though she could not afford the trip to Chicago, or the time off work, she had to find out what was going on. Who could have known her husband well enough to mimic his letters?

She decided the post office was the best place to start. She hailed a cab, needing the alone time in the car, and headed to Schaumburg. Digging through her overnight case, she pulled out her tennis shoes, which she would need for the long work ahead. She also dug out a photo of her husband to see if anyone at the post office would recognize him.
The humid August air assaulted her lungs as she opened the cab door, reaffirming her dislike for air conditioners. Drastic temperature changes always feel like an assault.

Slinging her bag over her shoulder, she paid the cab driver and ambled into the post office, taking in as many details as she could in the short walk to the counter. Lingering in the plain entryway, she studied the silver post office boxes until her heart stopped pounding so hard. Uncertain of what she would find, her emotions were bouncing between curiosity and fear, anger and excitement.

Grasping the letter and photo, she stepped into the short line of people waiting to talk to the post master. She froze as he called for Marty.

Into the room limped a man in his 40s dressed in a janitor’s gray uniform, sporting a broom. His liquid brown eyes sparkled behind the thick glasses perched half-way down his broad nose as his tousled black hair fell across his eyebrows.

The post master handed Marty a large package, asking him to take it to the back room.

“How may I help you?” he asked as he turned toward her.

“I am looking for someone,” she said, watching Marty as he limped away. “I received a letter postmarked from here, with no return address. Can you help me?”

As she handed him the letter, her heart skipped a beat as recognition flashed across the post master’s face, but he refused to give her any information. He handed it back like he was closing a book never to open it again.

She showed him her husband’s photo. “Do you know this man?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”

“Please look again. Have you seen his face?”

“I see many people every day,” he said. “I do not remember seeing him.”

Understanding people is a byproduct of years of ferreting stories. Though she knew he was hiding something, she also knew there wasn’t anything she could do to find out what that was.

Exiting the post office, she watched Marty dodge the noon-hour traffic to cross the street and limp down the sidewalk away from the main drag.

Who is he? He was mentioned in the letter, and she was warned to be careful of him. That means he probably knows something about her husband.

Cautiously, she crossed the street and followed Marty’s path. When she turned the corner, he was waiting for her.

      One Comment


  1. Though this project has ended, the story is not finished. If you want to continue it, go for it!

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