Return To Sender

Timothy James flipped on the light on the nightstand. The clock read 2:37. He couldn’t sleep. Another night. Another mental marathon. When would this stop? He wasn’t sure if he even wanted it to stop. He rubbed his eyes, sat up in bed, and slipped on his slippers. Penny sighed and stretched out. Timothy James pet her belly and leaned to kiss her nose.

“It’s okay, Girl. Go back to sleep.”

His desk was immaculate, cleaner than his head, and ready. He flipped open the case of the Remington and loaded a sheet of paper. His fingers hovered above the keys, close but not touching. Not touching, but they felt his tips. He took a breath and let it go. He took another.

 

JL,

It’s been more than a year. Winter was especially brutal this year and the combination of hundred-year-old brick walls and sixty-year-old windows made the nights almost impossible. I‘m so grateful I had Penny for warmth. Still, we felt like two-thirds of the equation.

I miss you. I forgive you. And I love you. All of you.

I want you to know I don’t regret putting my grandma’s ring on your finger. I don’t regret not sleeping that night either. I’d rather not sleep in the same bed with you than get a thousand nights of the best rest. I met my twin flame. I asked her to marry me. I knew she wouldn’t. But, I’ll never forget the way it fits on your finger. I’ll never forget the way you smelled when I put it on. And I’ll never regret trying. I’m proud of that.

Despite the winter, the year went by fast. I filled it with superficial things to replace memories we should have shared. You should see my closet. It’s impeccable. It’s full because my heart is empty, and I’m still having a hard time accepting that. I don’t know how to be okay not being okay. I mean, it’s like I told you during that summer: feet on the ground, I am here. I am more than okay. But cosmically, I am missing. I don’t know where my head is most of the time. And my heart, well, that will always be in your pocket. Please be kind. And gentle. I’m worth it.

I wonder how you are. I wonder if you got what you wanted. I wonder if you’re happy, joyous, and free. I wonder if you miss me. I wonder if you ever think about reaching out. I wonder if you pray that I’ll reach out to you. I wonder if we’ll ever bump into each other at the produce section of the grocery store, squeezing grapefruits. I wonder what will happen if we do. My guess is that it will be perfectly awkward, and we’ll be reminded of what we’ve always known. My guess is that we’ll vibrate at a different frequency like we always do. I just hope you don’t run away. Stay with me this time. Don’t throw rocks at the stars. Stay.

Do you remember how effortless it was? Do you remember standing on my feet while we danced in the kitchen? Frankie Valli at Fuji Grill? I tried to force you to see what the universe was showing me. And I was wrong to do that. But I was scared too. Just for different reasons. I have no fear anymore. I know what we are. I just don’t know when we will be. And that’s okay. That I can accept. The scotch tape heart is damned. You broke my heart, babe. But it’s okay, babe. It’s okay. It’s okay.

 

Penny nudged Timothy James on the elbow with her nose. He didn’t hear her get out of bed. He looked down at her. Her face softened. She lied down.

It’s okay because I wasn’t wrong. What I felt, you know? I wasn’t wrong. The universe still tells me, every day. I still see you in my dreams. Last night. Last week.  I still see you within too many things. I see you where ever I go. Not literally. But I will. This life, or the next. I’ll see you on the other side. One day I’ll let go. But for now, I like to hold it. I’m attached to holding it. Hope that blinds. The burdens and tears to carry. They make the lilac field in my head so purple. And your kiss the sweetest.

Until the stars in the sky stop burning,

Bill Gibbon

Timothy James pulled the sheet of paper from the writer. He soaked it in before folding it in thirds. He kissed it, shined his eyes upward, and pulled open the bottom drawer of the desk. He tossed the letter in and shut the drawer. Another for the pile. He stood and stretched. Penny sighed.

“C’mon, Girl. Time to get some sleep.”

 

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