Writing 101 Assignment – Day 5. The Letter She Didn’t Get On Time

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

She had a dream. Yet another one. About her mum again. But for a first time in years she didn’t wake up crying. Felt relieved. Was this some weird kind of closure??

She was on her way to her parents’ flat. Was only visiting once every few months, if lucky, but usually once a year. Only because she lived abroad with her own family, so didn’t have the opportunity to see her parents as often as she would like to. Or maybe this was a good excuse for not making an effort to see them: living thousands miles away. It somehow, sadistically, took the pressure off (I can’t keep in touch regularly, can I, as I live in another country, and phone calls are a bit too expensive, too). Best excuse ever.

In the corridor leading to their flat, just outside of the elevator, she found a letter. The envelope was signed by her mum. Must have dropped it accidentally. It was addressed to her daughter and was only loosely sealed. With no hesitation, she opened it. And froze. She sat on the stairs, tears dropping from her eyes. Uncontrollably. 

This was a letter her mum wasn’t intending to give her. She wanted this to be given to her daughter after her death. Which was imminent. She had cancer. One of the terminal types. Only had five years left to live. The letter instructed her husband not to break the news to their daughter if it happened whilst she was still pregnant – worried about the unborn baby. Didn’t write to say goodbye, but to say how happy her life had been. And how proud she was of her daughter.

No one stopped by this floor for ages. If they had, they would have found a woman in her thirties, heavily pregnant, staring at a piece of paper blankly. Makeup blurred by dried tears. Obviously in shock.

Silently sealed the letter back and slid it under the door – as if never opened. As if someone found it and kindly returned it. Left the block of flats without knocking on her parents’ door. Decided not to visit them this time. But will do so as soon as she possibly could from now on. Will find no convenient excuses for visiting them less often. She only has a few years left with her mum. No time to waste. We only live once, so do our parents.

Although she knew she was losing her mum, she felt some strange relief. At least she knows now. Whilst, by the look of it, this was not her mum’s intention. She was planning to keep this a secret. From everyone. She wanted to suffer alone. So her daughter decided to keep her secret, and cherish every minute she had left with her.

Then she woke up. Was this closure? Was this the moment she forgave her mum? For not telling her while she was still alive. For blocking her out and not letting her share her pain.

This letter exists. Her mum never gave it to her. It was opened after her sudden death. Which no one possibly expected. She did keep it a secret. For ten long years.

I wish you had trusted me with your news, mum. I wish this dream was reality.


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