Exercising the craft—September 16, 2013

By Ekta R. Garg

Prompt: The One-Minute Writer Flash Fiction Friday, in which writers receive a prompt and must complete it within 1000 words.  The first paragraph comprises the prompt, and the story I wrote follows it.  The title of today’s prompt: “The Mailbox”


You anxiously walk towards the mailbox, palms sweating, hope building in your chest. Would today be the day it arrives at last? You pull open the hinged door…

…and there it is.  The envelope.  The legal-sized missive displays an official-sounding name in the upper left hand corner and your name in the center.  You breathe deep, flip the envelope over, and begin working on the flap.

Someone did a good job of closing the envelope and as you head down the driveway you pull at it, tempted to tear the entire envelope apart in an effort to see the printed words.  How long have you waited for this moment?  How much did you endure to come to this day?

Life didn’t start out this way.  So many years ago you two shared your dreams in whispers in the dark after you made love or over lunches out to celebrate the simple fact of being together.  After the Wedding it felt like the world was yours.  The two of you would conquer it all and end up in Happily Ever After.

Then came the Reality of life after the Wedding.  Laundry, dishes, scrubbing toilets, paying bills.  It brought you down from the flight of ideas you shared.  Reality meant that you drifted apart.

You didn’t notice it at first.  Does anyone see those fissures as thin as cobweb lines?  Do the miniscule gaps catch anyone’s attention?  They didn’t catch yours.  Yours or his.  Until the fissures turned into cracks.  And the cracks turned into cavities.  And the love and passion you shared began leaking out of those cavities and spilling onto the surface of what used to be the road to Happily Ever After.

You lost your way, and soon you lost the itinerary.  And the final eggshell you stepped on proved to be the last one.

When he died you almost breathed an audible sigh of relief.  Almost.  You managed to subdue it at the last moment, but that didn’t stop you from feeling it.

No one realizes that becoming a widow entails reams of paperwork.  But you gladly endure it.  As you walk into the house and spread the papers across the kitchen counter, you find it difficult to control yourself.  A small chuckle escapes your throat.  A chesty giggle comes next.  Before you realize what is happening, a full-fledged belly laugh follows and you’ve dropped to your knees cackling.

As suddenly as the laughter appears, a tear slides down your cheek.  Another one follows.  Suddenly a deluge bursts forth, and you wonder how you came to this point.

How did everything go so wrong when it started so right?

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