This short story is in response to Ronovan’s weekly Friday Fiction prompt:
You’ve just been handed a message that makes you drop to the floor, trembling uncontrollably.
She had seriously considered boarding up the letterbox, nailing the damn flap closed. Nobody sent letters any more, only people after money. Since J. had walked out taking the cat, the car and the jewellery his mother had given her as a wedding present, she had drawn in her horns, speaking to nobody, dreading the ring tone of the telephone, the doorbell, car doors slamming in the street outside. Even the night chattered and hummed with incessant mocking noise. She pulled the sheet over her head, but it made no difference. He laughed, wherever he was. The neighbours laughed. Her co-workers laughed. The whole world belly-laughed itself sick over her stupidity. She sobbed into her pillow, took a tablet and shut out the mocking voices in an intermittent dull sleep.
Life became a disjointed sequence of light and dark, day noise and night noise. She gave up calling in to work, never went to the doctor’s appointments. Nothing that came out of the phone or through the letterbox had any weight in her existence. Nothing until the envelope flopped through the flap onto the floor. It was a plain white envelope, handwritten, with a stamp. She stared at it lying like an incubus, white and ghostly, a phantom from another time when communication meant letters. She pushed it with her foot, as if expecting it to give a sign of life. It didn’t. It lay there, silent and menacing, daring her to approach.
The letter didn’t go away, so she picked it up and with a decisive movement tore open the envelope. It was hand-written.
You don’t know me, the letter said.
She read on, a sense of oppression settling in the pit of her stomach.
I got your address from the agency.
The words blurred and she didn’t want to go on.
You don’t answer the phone or reply to emails, the letter went on, so I’m writing. I’m coming to see you.
She resisted the temptation to screw the paper into a ball.
I’ll keep on coming round until you see me.
The threat made her feel faint.
I have to know why you did it.
She knew what was coming next, knew but couldn’t stop it. Maybe if she stopped reading it wouldn’t happen? She knew she was kidding herself.
I have to know why a mother would abandon her baby.
The floor rushed up to meet her and the world went black.