For Her Own Good - A Short Story

Source

Mrs. Angle's dog is loose in her yard again. I walk pass the white fence surrounding the little lawn in front. I give the yapping pooch a sneer as it runs back and forth along the dirt path it has forged in its constant quest to aggravate any passers-by. Slipping the telephone bill in with the junk mail, I store it all in the back of my pouch for tomorrow's delivery. There is nothing that can't wait and certainly nothing worth losing a chunk out of my ankle.


The day is fine so I take my time on Grassy Lane. It is larger than a lane now. New homes sprouted up a few years ago and the road was widened. I like this part of my route. The hill is not steep and the sudden curves surprise me every time. The combination of dogwood, poplar and pine trees provides shade. My heart beats a bit faster as I near the small log house occupied by Deanna Potter.


Deanna has rented the house from old Joe Ogletree for the last year and a half. She works as a tour guide at the local winery and is majoring in southern history at the university. She is a natural redhead, not the kind who uses a rinse to look like an Irish Setter. When she smiles, which she does often, her green eyes light up like a Christmas bulb. She is tall and lithe and has a deep voice full of laughter. I open her gate and notice with disappointment her ten year old Chevy isn't there. Pushing her mail underneath the crack under her front door, I imagine she smells like fresh fruit at the grocery store.


Not that I should even be thinking such thoughts. Deanna is twenty years younger than me. Though she always gives me the right time of day, she does so because I constantly ask. I try to plan my route so the occasion might arise she will be out on the porch cramming for exams or watering the scattered plants on the railing. Even if she has no mail that day I find an advertising flyer to give her. The morsels of weather predictions and gossip I share with her never seem enough. But she is ever polite and looks at me when I talk. I'm not much to look at but I've gotten good at sucking in ny pot belly when I'm around Deanna.


It is because I think so highly of her I have chosen to hang onto the postcard. I look at it every night when I get home. The picture on the front is of San Francisco with the focal point on Alcatraz. I can't understand why anyone would send the image of a defunct prison to someone they supposedly care for. I look at the handwriting for at least the thousandth time and as many times I hate the small and smooth-flowing penmanship. This night I don't read the message, just try to picture what kind of man would write like that.

Source

It is Friday and I am rushing to finish my route. The day is warm and drizzly. My uniform is wrinkled and stuck to my body. The U.S. Postal Service demands neatness from its carriers but all the starch in the world cannot battle the humidity of this day. I slow down when I see Deanna pulling into her driveway. She struggles with some groceries and I run right over to offer my assistance. She smiles a thanks. I follow her up the steps and wait while she unlocks the door. I am aware of the sweat spots spreading beneath my armpits and try to keep my arms against my body. We enter a small but comfortable living room and take a right into the kitchen. I place the paper bag on the table next to hers.


"Thanks, Charlie." I notice her eyes look dark and worried. My heart nearly breaks to see it. "You're welcome anytime," I say, lingering by the table unable to take my eyes off her sad face. She doesn't say anything else and I can't think what to say either. I turn and leave the way I came. I stop by the door taking in the warmth Deanna has created in her space. I close my eyes and imagine myself here. Reluctantly I shut the door behind me and continue with my day.


Around 5 o'clock on Saturday, I am driving around the city. It is my day off but not Deanna's. I wonder if she had a busy day at the winery. If I could I would be waiting for her and offer to rub her feet after such a long day. I would run a hot bath and comb out her sun-kissed hair. I find myself turning onto Grassy Lane. I park my old pick-up across the street from Deanna'a house squeezing it among a dilapidated row of other vehicles collected by her neighbor. I slouch in my seat and wait for her return.


She comes home right after work, as usual. I watch as she hurries to the lopsided mail box where my replacement deposits her mail. She removes one piece at a time, impatiently tucking the junk stuff into her purse. She looks into the empty box for a moment then slams it shut. Deanna walks slowly to the house and disappears behind the door. I drive away toward the city.


Monday is another scorcher. I am irritated and tense. My morning sorting came up with another postcard for Deanna. I hastily slipped it to the bottom of my pouch where it can be easily overlooked. Mrs. Angle's pooch is out so I don't bother to check what I might have for her. I keep thinking about the postcard. It is heavy in my sack. What kind of man would pursue a woman living clear across the country who is probably too good for him anyway? He should have given up by now. I kick a stone in my way and watch it nick the side of someone's car.


When I reach Deanna's house, she is waiting on the porch. She is looking particularly pretty in the pale yellow dress I have seen her wear once before. She watches as I self-consciously fumble with the gate latch and approach. She offers me a weary smile.


"There wouldn't be a postcard for me in that bag of tricks of yours, would there, Charlie?" I make a production out of looking through the assortment of bills and advertising in my hand. I pretend to search my pouch but come up empty-handed.


"I'm afraid not, Deanna. But your new history magazine is here." Her face crumbles like an old sand castle. Her tears come as a surprise to me. I want to gather all of her into my arms to comfort. Instead I awkwardly pat her back and murmur a few there, theres.


"He said he'd get in touch as soon as he got settled. We met in England and we fell in love. I should have heard from him by now." She sits at the end of the chaise lounge and lowers her head into her hands. I want to cry too, not for her pain, but for my inability to say the soothing things to make her forget him.



Source

I cannot concentrate on anything. All I can think about is my beautiful Deanna, home alone, fragile and vulnerable. She needs someone to make her laugh again. I pick up the postcard. The Golden Gate Bridge in the photo looks unreal. I turn the card over with reluctance. I try to fight the angry sweat breaking from my forehead. The neat handwriting from before seems urgent now, its lines sharper and more pronounced. I still hate the penmanship but I despise the message more.

"Deanna, please say you'll marry me. I desperately await your reply. I do love you. John."

He has placed a sticker bearing his address and telephone number beneath his signature. I am disgusted with the pretentiousness of it. I see Deanna in my mind again. I can almost feel her soft skin. I miss the twinkle in her eyes and her ready smile. She deserves happiness and love. For her own good, I know I must do the right thing.

My steps are labored and the route seems longer than usual. I keep touching the two postcards I have placed in my shirt pocket for safe-keeping. I approach Deanna's house. I vaguely notice the empty driveway. I climb her stairs and leave the small gift-wrapped package at her door. With lighter steps I hurry to the street corner. I drop the postcards through the grates of the drainage hole watching as they mix with the murky watery grit beneath.

Do you think Deanna will ever marry John?

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Comments 49 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Whoa! This is a great story. What a sick and evil person.

Voted way up, and a pleasant surprise from Suziecat, the excellent fiction author!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Hi Will - I thought I'd give it a try. It's been awhile since I've dabbled in fiction. Thank you so much for your kind words.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

If this is an example of your ability, I am in awe!


TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 4 years ago from Tucson, Az.

A++ I'm still sitting here with my mouth open looking retarded. I know I've read something great yet it's still got to sink in .. This is both heavy and beautiful.

jim


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Thanks, Bill -


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

TMWNP - You are very nice. Thank you so much for reading my story.


mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 4 years ago

Great story. I too voted up.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Thank you, Mljdgulley. I appreciate the vote up.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

This was wonderful story, Suzzane. Thanks for writing and share with us. I give my vote for you. Cheers...

Prasetio


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

Suziecat7, my blood is boiling at what this fiend did to that poor woman. Such cruelty! But why would such an important message come by postcard? I suppose if it came first class, there would be no story. Instead, you wrote a great one. Voted up.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Great story.voted up, interesting and awesome.It is a bit scary as well.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Pras - Always great to see you. Thanks for the vote up.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

A brilliant story and here's to so many more to share.

Take care and have a wonderful day.

Eddy.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Wow, suzie this is good - really good!

voting up


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

wow. great story. Excellent details and great premise. Good work!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

WannaBWriter - I thought about the postcard but figured everyone could read the message so why not. Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to comment.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Dahoglund - Yes, there are scary people out there. Thanks for commenting.


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

Interesting set up for what the postman did. I couldn't figure that was going to happen...shucks...now we need the next episode!


sfpodiatrist profile image

sfpodiatrist 4 years ago from San Francisco

Suzzane, you are a beautiful writer!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Eiddwen - Thank you so much for reading my little story.


sfpodiatrist profile image

sfpodiatrist 4 years ago from San Francisco

You have a gift with words- I wish I could write like you!


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

This was a wonderful story. I do think the proposal should have been written in a letter. A postcard is so impersonal.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Movie Master - Thank you so much.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

PDX - Thanks.


jfay2011 profile image

jfay2011 4 years ago

wow, that is really a great read.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Frogyfish - The way I was going it would either be a murder mystery or a soap opera. Thanks for reading.


Tonka6078 4 years ago

This was so good and such a sad story..he may have cost her the love of her life..Is there a part two? Is there a chance for a meeting..fate? Thank you Suzie!

Tonka


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Sfpodiatrist - Thank you for your kind words.


sam-eg profile image

sam-eg 4 years ago from Happy Land

such a great story and show so much of your talent ,definitely voted up


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Becky - Yeah, the postcard idea maybe should have been clarified. Thank you so much for reading.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

jfay - Thanks!


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 4 years ago

I really enjoyed this story and never expected your ending, which made it twice as good!


Leaderofmany profile image

Leaderofmany 4 years ago from Back Home in Indiana

I enjoyed reading the story, really wanting more.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Tonka - He is a mean mailman. Thanks for reading.


stars439 profile image

stars439 4 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Wonderful story, and very nice photos. God Bless You Precious heart.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Hi Suzie,

This story kept my attention all the way through. That means I really enjoyed it! It feels as though there could be a part 2? Hmmmmm . . .

Sharyn


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Thank you all for reading my story.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

you're welcome!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Thank you all so much for reading my story.


platinumOwl4 profile image

platinumOwl4 4 years ago

Suziecat7, you continue to amaze me. when I read the Irish setter part I fell out of the chair. Hope you continue, this was great.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Thanks, PlatinumOwl. I appreciate your kind words.


stessily 4 years ago

And to think that there's that saying that the postman always rings twice! This guy is ringing a different kind of doorbell --- very scary.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC Author

Stessily - Thank you so much for reading my short story!


perfectperception profile image

perfectperception 4 years ago from USA

I enjoyed this. Voted up!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

A woman writing as a man; I had to go back up and make sure, lol. Very good. I hope there is a follow-up!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

Captivating story! Though I wish the postman had a proper, unselfish reason for keeping the postcards from Deanna...


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 17 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Oh man, the power of the postal carrier! Twisted and interesting, I loved it. What a great thriller. Glad to find this story today.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 17 months ago from Asheville, NC Author

Thanks, Peg. I'm glad you liked it - thanks for reading.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 17 months ago from Germany

Oh my! I already hate that postman Charlie who stole the postcards for Deanna. I know I´m upset for this as it reminded me of how somebody stolen my posts sent from someone I treasured. I found it out when I met the sender. A well written story. Thanks for sharing.

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