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My front doorbell rings while I am shaving on Wednesday morning. I rinse the shaving cream off, grab a hand towel and wipe my face and walk fast to the front door. I pull the door open and there is no one there. I look up and down the quiet street and then down at a package siting on my welcome mat. My robe blows open from the breeze coming up from the river but there is no one around so I am not embarrassed.

The box is wrapped in pink paper and a rose-red bow. The box had a floral sent. I pick up the box and give it a shake. Something moves. On the box is written, “Surprise!”

I look up and down the street again, and then check the neighbor’s windows to see if someone is watching me. Whoever dropped it off came and went fast. I close the door and walk into my kitchen and set the package on the counter. I don’t recall ever getting a surprise like this in my life. What could it be? I ask myself. I don’t have a girlfriend and have been single and alone for a couple of years now.

I fill the electric kettle and flick it on, and it glows violet-blue. I pour some herbs into a tea strainer and place in the mug. I look at the package and back to the kettle. I pour the hot water over the herbs of holy basil, gotu kola, and bacopa. I take the scissor from the drawer and carefully cut the bow. I then cut the fold of pink paper and peel back the shiny paper. The box has a folded latch, I open it and stare at a bundle of letters. The letters are tied in a statin sash of blue and gold. I lift the bundle out and a floral vibrant scent hits my nose. I stare at the sash and I see Anna. Clear. Vibrant. Real. She is wearing a blue and gold evening gown. We are on the red carpet attending a film award ceremony. Photographers flash photos of us are we move up the stairs into the theater. Anna is competing for the best director award for her short doc and she walks in the dress like she was born into royalty. All sway and swish and joy. She is laughing and can’t stop smiling or letting go of my hand. The whole evening, she kept close to me. When her name was called, she gave me a kiss that claimed ownership of my lips.A year later, she left me for a cameraman she met in Nepal. I never saw her again. It took me three years to get her off my mind. And here, in my kitchen in Columbus Ohio, she is back in my life. I pull out a kitchen chair and sit down. I stare at the bundle. My love letters to her, the ones she told me she burned when I asked for them back. I pick up the bundle and holding the letters she comes back to me. I cant stop the thoughts of seeing her at the Indian restaurant we liked so much, or the camping trip where we got lost and had to sleep in a small cave. And the kissing. No. Not fair. My day, my week, my life was even, balanced, calm, easy, predictable now. Not like it was with her and all that feeling is coming back to me. Why. Why now? pull the sash and a small handwritten card falls out. I see it is in her handwriting. She has a delicate stroke to her writing, and I see her again, this time writing a letter to her father, when she told him she wouldn’t go into law and that she would pursue social justice through film. I pick up the card and read it aloud.
Michael. I never burned these beautiful letters. Burning them would deny the love I felt for you and still feel. I know that I broke your heart and what I did was cruel, and I can’t explain my actions in a way that would make sense to you. I am returning these letters so we both are free. Who knows, maybe our paths will cross again.
Thinking of you
My stomach is filled with icy acid and my head is hot. I didn’t need her back in my life. I didn’t need this. I get up and go to the couch and lay down. I see her again, holding an ice cream cone and coaxing me to take a bite and then she pushes the cone into my nose and laughs and laughs. I smile thinking of it, and the ice ball forms harder, and I wonder when I will see her again.


This touched me.
Thank you for it.

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