A Letter
September 30, 2008, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I received this letter in the mail five days ago.

Enclosed in an envelope on which I read my name and address. Naturally I opened the envelope. Naturally I read the letter. It began with Dear followed by my name followed by a declaration of love. A beautiful declaration, a beautiful letter. A truly beautiful letter. Void of vulgarity and cliché, spiritual without being self-righteous, intimate without being embarrassing. A letter so beautiful I did not dare share it with anyone. I do not dare share it with anyone.

Can I say that I fell in love with the letter? Because that is what happened. I fell in love with it. So you can imagine my surprise, even in my intoxicated state, on finding it signed with a name I did not recognize. I stared hard at the name, but could not recall it. No, it did not cross my mind that the letter was a practical joke or the product of an obsessed or sick individual. Not because I am particularly vain, but because the letter, the beauty of the letter, had eliminated any doubt that it was anything but authentic.

The postmark on the envelope gave me a clue to the letter’s origin. I did an online search of the postmarked city and state combined with the name, and the internet miraculously produced a single telephone number and address not far from my home. I called the number but no one answered. I called again, but no one answered again. I called a third time, still no answer.

I could not have anticipated what I did next. Perhaps you already have. But I could not. It was so uncharacteristic of me. But yes, I drove to the address the internet gave me. I parked on the street, walked to the door, and rang the doorbell. I did it without thinking, with such impatience that I cannot recall what the street was like, what the house was like. It could have been made of palatial marble or corrugated cardboard; I did not notice.

When the door opened, it barely opened, still chain-locked. Darker inside than it was outside, I could make out a silhouette and smell cornbread baking. The silhouette asked what I wanted. I said who I was, asked for whom I was looking, and explained my reason why. The silhouette shook its head, said “No, you are mistaken. It is not for you. It is not a love letter. Please forward it to the correct recipient,” and closed the door.

After spending the next four days (the same as the last four) deciphering the letter’s code, I am confident you are the “correct recipient” to whom the silhouette referred. So enclosed please find the letter.

Know that I do not contradict myself by sending it to you. This sending of the letter is not a sharing of the thing. I am certain you can not read what was only meant for me. Otherwise I would not let it go.

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