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Feb 2015
On the third of November in '73, a stranger found his way to my door. He had traveled many miles: the shore out of site, his home but a distant memory. Through wheezing and tears, and a gleam in his eye, his shaking hand reached towards me gripping tightly to a letter.

"This… This is for you," he said still trying to catch his breath. "I'm so sorry, I read a line and knew it not my place," he continued, "please forgive me."

No envelope, no mailing address, no return. The smell of brine shot from the damp, yellow paper. Blue lines running towards black, water-colored ink. I reached towards him, without saying a word, and brought him inside for water. He had traveled far.

We sat down in the kitchen and I began to read:

"I have been away for what feels to be quite some time: admittedly I have lost track. My mind burns with strife. Should I just give up? Should I hold out hope? I try every day to remind myself the date. 'May 27th, 1965, is the day it began. September 16th is my birthday, and I am now 28. The current date is April 11th, 1971.' This is the date I am writing you this letter. I need you to know that I have not forgotten you. I have not let this existence strip you from me.

I still remember the way you held my hand so awkwardly in the grocery store. The way your smile, that time we drove to the Grand Canyon, made getting lost for two days worth while. We didn't even see the **** canyon, but that didn't matter. I remember the feeling I got deep in my stomach when I was on your arm. The way you were proud to show me off and the way I was proud to simply be in your light. I can taste the dinners you would cook me, and your breath at night, how it tasted like our favorite scotch. When I close my eyes, I hear your voice reading me passages from Tesla's diaries, because you knew it put me to sleep.

I can feel your warmth in this cold, desolate room, keeping me safe and watching over me. The sun breaks through a crack in the wall. I press my face against its rays and imagine them as your eyes, beaming down on me in the morning while I'm nuzzled on your shoulder.

I feed the birds crumbs of stale bread that fall off the rolls they bring me, and let their songs shower me with happiness.

I do not know where I am, but the thought of you has kept me strong. Please do not despair. I will always be with you. I will always be in your heart, as you are in mine. And I pray to whatever God is out there, that when this ordeal is over, I can watch as you live out your days in our home. My love, I need this letter to find you. Maybe the bird has heard my plea.

I will wait for you on the other side of this life. For I know I have many more with you.

Yours always, never failing;
Lenore."

It had been over eight years since I last saw my wife. We had stopped for gas ten miles outside Carlsbad. She had gone in to get cigarettes and a 40oz grape slushy (her favorite). And I...I had taken my eyes off of her for simply a few seconds to check the nozzle and…

I began to weep uncontrollably. For years I knew she was still alive, I knew when no one else would believe. I felt her holding on. I too, looked at the sun and felt as though she was looking down at me. My dreams were ransacked with memories of that failed Canyon trip, yet every morning I awoke with the largest smile on my face, simply from remembering her.

The feeling went away in the summer of last year, just months after she had apparently written me. My tears mixed with the paper, causing the ink to run even more, creating a gray blend where my tears, the ocean, and her love collided.

The stranger made his way to the bar-cart and grabbed the scotch. He poured me a double and made himself a water while I thanked this kind stranger profusely for allowing me such closure.

He had not spoken as I read. He had not spoken as I wept. He simply offered his hand on my shoulder for comfort, and a glass of scotch for remembrance.

As I took another sip from my glass my vision fogged and the room it span. This stranger I had thought so kind was standing behind me with both hands now on my shoulder, pressing down hard. Through my tears and confusion I managed to question:

"What did you do to her? What did you do with my Lenore? How did you find me? What is…" Every word growing weaker and weaker with age. And through the haze I heard him whisper, his voice different than before,

"A little birdie told me…"

And I was out. Never would I see this stranger again. My wife's last words now rest heavy on my chest. She was away, but never far. Her captor was here, but far away.

He never gave her a choice, but I have mine. And I choose to go silently into the ocean's wake, eyes wide at the stars, until I slowly drift under. I will see you again.
James Tyler
Written by
James Tyler  Memphis
(Memphis)   
535
 
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