11 Jan “Letters to Sam”
"Letters to Sam"
Written by Dearbhla Klue
How are you doing? It’s been a while. I hope these winter days are treating you well, they don’t agree with me so much. You remember how blue I used to get? Seasonal Affective Disorder I believe it’s called, or SAD. Funny isn’t it? The thing you feel is the thing you become.
But on to a happier subject. I heard you met someone, that’s great! I hope you’ll be very happy together and that everything works out this time. She must be a very pretty gal to bag herself such a handsome man, such a kind man, such a… listen to me, I’m babbling.
That always used to make you blush; you could never take a compliment! That’s one of the things I adored about you, the way your awkward and almost pained smile hooked inwardly at the corners when I’d gush about you. Sometimes you’d even get annoyed, but I didn’t mind. I never minded. It was just one more thing for me to improve on. Even when you were annoyed, you were helping me. Helping me improve. Helping me improve. Improve myself. Be better. Be right. Be perfect.
Well, this letter has gone on long enough. I’ll write to you again soon, just to check in. Maybe I’ll drop it by your apartment, save money on stamps. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but don’t worry, I’ll wrap up good and warm.
* * * * * *
I came by today to drop off the letter. I think I saw your new gal in the window. Long, wavy blonde hair, perfect smile. She was on the phone with someone, probably you, laughing. I bet she lights up the room with that smile of hers huh? Even staring up in the pouring rain, surrounded by grey, I swear it nearly blinded me. She could be a model. She could be a model for dentistry with that pretty, pretty smile of hers.
I bet that’s one of the qualities that drew you to her. You always did like a pretty smile. In fact, that’s one of the things you said you loved about me. Remember? That’s okay if you don’t. I wouldn’t remember me, either.
Anyway, after she’d finished her phone call, I approached the front door of the apartment building and attempted to leave the letter in your mailbox. Mrs. Hannity, the old bat, met me with her broom at the foot of the stairs. She still carries that thing around with her?! Well, I have to say, it was so nice to see her after such a long absence. I greeted her immediately, but the warmth was not reciprocated. Her face fell a sickly, off-white the moment she saw me. It was like she’d seen a ghost!
She rather rudely shooed me away with her pet broom, spouting that ancient language of hers. She seemed rather upset, so I decided it was best to come by and give you your letter another time. That poor woman, living by herself all these years, tucked away into madness, tucked away into nothing.
At her age, anything could happen. The slightest misstep, forgetting to turn the gas off and lighting one of those horrible cigarettes from the old country, forgetting to take her medication, or taking too much. Perhaps I should check in on her more often, she may be glad of the company. Yes, I believe I shall pay her a little visit very soon.
* * * * * *
I came by again to drop off your letters, but was denied access by an ambulance and other emergency vehicles. It looked like your whole building was sealed off but I couldn’t be sure, as I was standing under the awning of the bookstore just down the street.
As I moved slowly up the street and closer to the scene, I overheard two paramedics say it was an elderly woman found unconscious in her apartment by the landlord. Apparently, he occasionally stops by for a cup of tea, a cop chimed in. I also overhead it was a gas leak. How tragic.
Could it be old Mrs. Hannity? Oh, I do hope she’s alright. I remember warning her about that old stove of hers. You know, the one she refused to get rid of? The one that banged and roared at 5 pm every day like clockwork? The one that kept us awake if she decided she wanted tea at some ungodly hour of the morning?
I warned her about it. It’s very old, I said. It’s very old and something bad could happen if she kept using it.
I saw them wheel a body bag out of the apartment building on a gurney. I quietly made my way towards the ambulance with its doors swung wide open, and stopped just a few feet away. It was pouring. Again. No one seemed to even notice me. As the paramedics drew closer, I could see that the body was small, about five feet in length. The smell of gas quickly followed, and I admit I gagged a little.
Poor Mrs. Hannity… once upon a time, she was like a mother to us.
Anyway, I’ll hopefully get your letters to you tomorrow, when things have calmed down a little bit over there.
Stay positive, darling!
* * * * * *
I don’t know how many times I have to ask you to call your mother!
She called me today, asking if I’d heard from you. I, of course, said no, and asked her what seemed to be the problem. She told me you’d gone missing, that you hadn’t been seen for days. I assured her that you were probably off on one of your impromptu camping adventures.
She didn’t seem to want to accept this, and insisted that it was very serious. Elaine, she told me, had called her three days ago in quite the state, saying that you never made it home from work that day (what she doesn’t know, is that you never actually made it into work at all). I assume Elaine is the one with the perfect smile. You used to love that about me, remember? I think it’s so nice that she and your mother get along so well, and really seem to have a dear fondness for each other.
Anyway, I told her to try not to worry. She always was such a worrier! She was absolutely devastated when she heard the news. She adored me, and I her. I tried to help her understand what happened, but it’s difficult to explain to someone when you don’t quite understand it yourself. Sometimes things in life just happen. They happen, and we want to take it all back. They happen and we wish they didn’t.
Well, I’d best be going. I will once again attempt to get these letters to you, one way or another. Hopefully, there will be no more obstacles in my path.
* * * * * *
Good morning, darling!
How are you feeling? Okay, I’ve got to be honest here, I miss waking up next to you! You have the bluest eyes I have ever seen. Bluer than my husky Benny’s growing up. God, I loved that dog. I really wish my bastard father hadn’t made me watch him put Benny out of his misery when he got caught in a bear trap in Montana that winter. Perhaps that’s one reason I get the winter blues.
Your Mom stopped by. She said it’s been a week now. My heart goes out to her. I know what it’s like to lose the one you love. To have phone calls unreturned. To have texts unread. That’s why I resorted to writing these letters, aren’t I clever? Besides, letters are more romantic. No one writes them anymore. No one cares. Not like I do.
Oh, I almost forgot, I bumped into your gal today. Elaine, is it? She is much prettier in person. She is a little jumpy though, which can get annoying. In fact, she wouldn’t stop being jumpy, even though I told her over and over again that I was not going to hurt her. I was just there to talk. I was worried about you. I was worried that something would happen to you and I needed her cooperation otherwise you may not be found.
I’m afraid things got a little out of hand, and… I may have struck her. She fell and hit her head awkwardly against the banister in the back stairway of the apartment block. I think she either died instantly or bled out, as the blood poured from her head and sprawled out onto the concrete floor beneath her delicate frame.
I took the knife from my purse, cut one of her beautiful golden tendrils, and placed it in my purse for you. I thought you might want something to remember her by. It’s the least I can do. It was an accident, after all.
My, oh my, it is proving increasingly difficult to get these letters to you! It seems the women in your life, old lady Hannity included, want to sabotage their delivery! I’ll try again tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day…
* * * * * *
I think I may have overdone it. It was supposed to be so simple. I can admit to myself now that these letters are more for my own peace of mind rather than love notes to you, because, let’s be honest, you won’t read them. You can’t read them. I wish you could. Perhaps I’ll read them to you. Even now, as you lay on my bed, vacantly expressive, I can still feel you. I feel you all around me.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I had a copy of my key made before I returned it to you. That’s how I got into your apartment the other day. I stood and watched you through the frosted glass shower door. I closed my eyes for a moment and allowed your aroma to wash over me… so intoxicating. I remembered being in that shower with you, on Sunday mornings, fucking like rabbits, whilst the coffee brewed in the kitchen.
You were not as happy to see me as I had hoped, mister! You got such a start that you slipped and hit your head, knocking you out cold! I got you all dried off and into your robe. It’s amazing how much inner strength we have in times of crisis, isn’t it?
Luckily your little bimbo friend had spent the night at her mother’s, as she’d had a little car trouble the night before (oops!), so she wasn’t there to be a third wheel this time. She’d just go about her day assuming that you went to work as usual. How nice for her.
I managed to get you in the wheelchair I had specially prepared all for you, and used the elevator to get you downstairs to the parking garage in the basement. I didn’t even have to use the propofol I had secured in my jacket pocket. You took care of that for me, sweetie!
We made it to my place, thank God for the elevator, and I laid you down on my bed. Please, please, please understand that I had to use the restraints for your own good! If you had tried to walk as soon as you woke up, you could’ve fallen and really hurt yourself! I know it must have come as a shock initially, but I’m so proud of you for sticking it out. You truly are a trooper. Seeing you there, all tied up with no place to go, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little turned on.
On another note, I’ve been doing a great job of taking care of you and going to work. Did I tell you they transferred me to St. Mary’s? It’s closer which is nice. Means I can get home to you more quickly. I have to admit, when your Mom showed up the other day I was struck with mild panic. Thankfully, I remembered the gag before I answered the door, so she shouldn’t have been able to hear you from all the way in the back room.
You know what? I’ll finish this tomorrow. It’s too much for me to continue right now. Your eyes are faded, and I despise the gray.
* * * * * *
I came home yesterday to find you had chewed off your tongue, and choked on the blood. Am I that insufferable to you? Don’t you want me? Don’t you love me? Why? Why not? Tell me! I would have died for you, you stupid, stupid little man. I would have died for you, and now my heart is broken.
…you know what? It would be funny, if it wasn’t so goddamned tragic.