Undelivered

 Ms. Roe’s mailbox is bluish-green – our winters chipped away color – baring spots of metal.  It is rusted shut from violent gales, knifing sleet… and inactivity.  Yet every Saturday at dawn, the hearty spinster trudges down the hillside, casts down her eyes then awaits the courier in silence, just outside our matronly circle.    

In Sheridan County, the mailboxes are clumped together on warped 2” by 4”s – and the posts shift in the earth – the letter boxes lean like bowed branches.  Due to reckless snow-plows, some women paint their boxes splashy colors – our row consists of a grassy green one, pink, a shiny unpainted one, then turquoise (that’s Ms. Roe) and black (that’s me).

Self-sacrifice has dimmed our eyes, but there’s strength in having no voice.  The postman steps past her; Ms. Roe stands expressionless ‘til he drives away.  She curtsies slightly then forges up the ridge, empty-handed once again.  And the lines in our foreheads are rigid.  You see, the women of the borderland quietly dream their boxes will bring glad tidings or connection, if only by proxy, to the world beyond our margins.  So not even a frigid northerly can deter a frontier woman from her weekly trip to the mailbox, even if she knows it’s fruitless, there’s hope in the trek.  
 
That day, the bitter wind cut our faces.  We were stoic as the postal truck appeared; then the whirling bands of white closed in behind it.  Still, no Ms. Roe.  

No one dared watch as the postman tugged at the lid – the paint flakes sprinkled down, green and blue and blighted, so sharp atop the snow – and placed the letter inside.


No one dared turn when he closed it again – like a floorboard it groaned.    


She used a single shot Winchester.  Black powder and blood and patchwork quilts.
And no one dared cry. 


The wide-eyed matron ambled over to the blue-green box and wrenched it open, glanced back for our blessing – we cast down our eyes.  She huffed then tore at the sullied envelope.  We held our breath, with sweet expectation but feigned disapproval.  It says, Leave the light on, she jerked the paper front to back, “That’s it?” she cawed.  We turned our backs, she crinkled the paper and threw it at our feet.  “You wanted me to,” she snorted.  

The chickadees gargled loud amidst the lull. 

“How could we have known,” someone whispered.


Our winter-leaden row looks tiny from my window.  I think I’ll wrap myself in my sea-colored shawl and curse serendipity then quickly turn to other things.  


by Chad Broughman
 

Comments

  1. Great story!! Goes right to the heart, lets you feel right along with the characters. Truly thought provoking and heartbreaking all in one.
    Bravo to you Chad Broughman!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great story. thought provoking and heartbreaking, takes the reader in right away.
    Bravo to you Chad Broughman.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This story is really compelling, takes the reader in and holds them until the very end, then, breaks your heart!!
    Great writing.

    ReplyDelete

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