Last Autumn

It was the final line that got me

“I have so much more to say, I hope you will allow me to visit before it is too late.

With love,

Jeremy.”

I was approaching the end of my shift and tidying the desk before the night nurse came in. It was a quiet evening, so I decided to do a little extra and pulled out the in-tray to clean beneath it, when I found the yellowed, dusty letter lying there, hidden from the world and the process that follows insertion in the tray. It was neatly handwritten and addressed to Irma Johnston. Although it wasn’t dated, it struck me that it must have been quite old. Irma, who’d been resident at the hospice, had passed away in autumn last year. I remember the season clearly as she liked to paint watercolours by the window and we still had her final work stuck on the fridge in the staff kitchen, the towering ash tree with its flame hues of reds and oranges.

I read and re-read the letter, my hands shaking uncontrollably and that lump in my throat that was part and parcel of this job going into overdrive. It was too late. Or did Jeremy stop by and leave another letter, another time? It wasn’t clear from what I read who Jeremy was, the letter was brief and didn’t go into much detail, except for the regrets of years of silence that had passed between them. I couldn’t remember ever seeing Irma receiving visitors. I carefully folded it to take home with me. I felt I had inherited a great responsibility, though with no clear course of action.

As I passed the ash tree on the way to my car, its moonlit barren branches coaxed the tears that I had been holding back.

 

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. Approach this post in as few words as possible. Prompt from Writing101.

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