Snapshots by Laura - A Preview (Book available for purchase now!)
She opened the letter on the afternoon before the funeral.
She had been staring blankly at the pile of mail for over ten minutes. It had been building for nearly a year, and was justifiably large. She knew that the envelopes contained words of sympathy, well-intended, but almost meaningless in the wake of her desolation. The long white ones with their plastic windows were easily identifiable as bills - probably gone long unpaid - accumulating since God knows when. There were a few anomalous ones - pink ones, blue ones, a large manila one - that could not be classified immediately by their appearance. All of them implied a future. A sense of carrying on that she was trying to contend with. A future that seemed dauntingly close, but much too far away to be the here and now.
She did know that immediate closure would not come in the form of friends and family, nor from paying off a cable bill ten months overdue. But sorting the envelopes was a starting point. And her life had been so full of endings lately.
So she gazed at the stack of mail, deciding how to sort it. By size? By the categories she could identify? Or by those she might open now, those she might open later, and those she might never open at all?
She sighed and decided to sort by colour. Making that small decision lightened her spirits marginally, and she reached for the first stack. White and off-white together. Pastels together, cream in a stack of their own. It was a slow process, and midway through she admitted that she was actually exhausted. This one small task had drained her - and finally, when only a single stack remained, she resolved that she would finish organizing and go straight to bed. As she reached for the last pile of unsorted envelopes, a small, stark black card slid out and onto the floor.
She stared at it, confused by its difference from the others. There was no comfort in its blackness, no hint at its intention at all. She picked it up, almost reverent in her handling of the envelope.
It was four inches by four inches in size, and it was sealed with an iridescent black sticker. The writing on the front also shimmered, faintly silver in colour. It was necessary, she absently surmised, to use a special pen when addressing this card. A traditional black or blue ball point pen would have been virtually invisible against the black paper. She turned the envelope left and right, bending it a little to admire the fluid lettering that addressed it. She forgot, momentarily, why she had to sort this mail in the first place. She looked blankly at the stacks in front of her, and shook her head to clear it.
She set the black envelope apart from the others, feeling oddly energized by its presence. She buzzed with a strange sense of life that she hadn't felt in nearly a year.
Her eyes burned ravenously as she stared at the envelope, and all thoughts of rest evaporated from her mind. She turned her face away from it, slightly embarrassed by her intense reaction. But the glossy lettering drew her eyes back.
She would open each and every card, each and every bill. Now. And then, lastly, she would open the black envelope.
Her brain tingled with anticipatory glee, her fingers itched to open it first.
But the last year had taught her nothing if not will power.
And she knew, somehow, that this envelope and its contents were dessert-like in nature - sweetest when left until the end of the meal to enjoy.