Years ago, I briefly rented a post-office box and took out an ad in the classifieds which, apart from listing the box address, simply read “Tell me a story.” Here is another response I received (the woman who wrote in included her name, address and phone number, but I’ve taken them out here):
Tell Me A Story
Typed on 8.5×11 paper.
I believe in the power of the spoken word. For me, the words that escape my mouth in day-to-day interactions come not only from inside myself, but from everyone who is or once was a part of my life. I have known people to criticize my museum of relationships, but for me, each one holds a special meaning that will remain in my heart for eternity.
As I write this I see one such person sitting on the corner of my bed. He still has his alluring brown eyes, slicked dark hair and smile that could charm everyone but me. He is wearing his dock shoes, white t-shirt with a blurred emblem, gold chain and denim jacket. His hands are bright red from smoking outside on a brisk autumn night. He tries to put them in his pocket but his jeans are too tight at the hip. He still has his freckles which accompanied with his below average height emphasizes his boyishness. Together we remember the early autumn night in ’93 we spent talking at the beach. Walking along the shore we tried so hard to understand one another. We were best friends, emotional lovers. We raced each other on the beach, played on the monkey bars, acted like the innocent children we were.
He tries to grab the ginger ale from in front of him but his hands are shaking so violently that he can’t bring the can to his lips without spilling some first. His eyes meet mine and automatically drop to the floor.
Like the flash of red in his eyes, my misery returns, “I was painting my furniture when I got the phone call saying you had overdosed on meds and beer. They said you had been in a coma, but awoke after a few hours. I went to your house. You were wearing your glasses; I didn’t even know you wore contacts.”
Years later after much silence and emotional turmoil I began to notice; the weight loss, lack of concentration and increased physical distance. From then on we merely stole glances of each other in public places. I didn’t know then what I know now. l thought you were a victim not the leader. I would have helped you had I only taken the time.
It’s been nearly nine years since we first met, and after much struggle he has nearly returned to the boy I knew that night on the beach. But I cannot hear him, feel him, or smell him. His alluring eyes are empty and as I blink, he disappears.
His voice shall never be heard again.
But when I speak, he returns in a word.
He is my eternity.