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A Very Short Story Called A Letter of Love
This story was published in an arts and literature collection from my college. I was semi-proud that it actually was selected to be included. Four months later, when I re-read the published story, I was disgusted and appalled and wished that I could go back in time to do corrections and revisions. So I'm doing them now and will post this in a hub to see what happens. If you hate it, feel free to say so. If you have suggestions for future improvement in my writing style, please feel free. Believe me, I'm my own worst critic.
"A Letter Of Love"
You had always seemed pretentious. You would walk casually across the room, chin level with the floor and eyes forward with the vindication of royalty. The air about you seemed as chilled and crisp as mid-autumn, gaining you eager eyes and ears. There was nothing that you could say or do to receive anger, envy, or frustration from your peers. And I was one of those that could never think ill of you.
The days that I can recall before my days with you seem murky, undistinguished, and dull in almost every sense. The warmth of my loved ones from my younger days are lukewarm. The joy of my first remembered birthday seems halfhearted. The pride at my accomplishments seems vain. You revealed to me the true depth of emotion and you were my everything from my first glimpse of you behind that car.
It was that car that first took my notice. I remember it well--a 1999 blue Chevy Lumina with a dent above the left tire rim. You changed cars only a few days after my first sighting, but this was a car that you had loved as far as material possessions go. This was the first car you ever bought, the car that saw the first few exciting years of freedom, and the car that you lovingly locked before walking away. Yet only after a few days in your new environment, you had to cast aside the Lumina.
This all had happened on September 17th. The day started out with some fog that never cleared up entirely. It was a warm day, but overcast with a shower around 2 o’clock that afternoon. But the sun peaked through the clouds--just a bit!--when you stepped out of the Lumina to lock it. It was almost perfect, since perfection would have been some sort of mystical music from the heavens.
I could feel that heat of the sun on my head as I watched you. I was walking up the hill next to the lot, moving quickly because I was late. I was moving so fast for so long that my breath was heavy and my throat was dry. But seeing that car out of the corner of my eye, and glimpsing your graceful figure emerging from it, stopped me dead. My breath was caught in my chest and my heart seemed to stop beating. I had to watch you gather your belongings, lock your car, and walk past me and away for as long as I could see you.
Your height, your eyes, your mouth--everything was vivid in my mind. Even your scent enraptured me from the very beginning. This sounds strange, even remotely perverted, to say this and to have acted as such, but I was lost. I was even more so when I had discovered that we had both ventured to the same hangout spot in the evening. That was where I first spoke to you.
To tell the truth, although you have told me countless times how secure I am, I was so nervous that I could barely stand. You sat alone at the café with Mein Kampf in hand and a cup of black coffee on the table. You were dressed for the summer season, showing more skin than what was usually seen during that time of year. Your hair was done with precision.
I watched you for half an hour to the grief of my acquaintances and friends. I simply could not stop looking at you. It was at their persuasion that I finally gathered enough courage to walk over to you. Of course, halfway over, I nearly fell into a table and ran away. Yet I kept on advancing as boldly as I could to you and your lovely visage. I made it to the table three away from you when I stopped. You were the one who spoke to me first.
“Could you hand me a napkin?”
I was stunned. I suppose I looked like a deer in headlights at your voice. I assume that you might have guessed my insecurity--although you claimed before I am incapable of such a thing--since you smiled and rose from your seat to the station behind me to get what you had desired. I, with all my clumsiness, could not do a thing but retreat.
The café meeting was what set things in motion between us. You kept coming back and so did I. Each week you had a different book of some interesting variety with you. One week, it was the Feminine Mystique, another week it was Gulliver‘s Travels, and another week was The Grapes of Wrath. Of course you know that we began to speak to each other. Your company was completely enjoyable; all the while my heart raced and my hands shook with apprehension.
You know the rest. We had our first date, our first kiss, and our first everything. Time was precious and irreplaceable. And I am truly sorry.
“I would like to be a firefly.” Do you remember? We were in our apartment together, the night was as silent as it could be in the city, and it was hot and unbearably humid. My grandmother had passed away just a month ago and I began to mention death. You tapped me playfully on the shoulder and proclaimed that she would come back before you mentioned what you hoped to be in your next life. I had never known before then that you believed in reincarnation.
“Why?” I asked laughing. “They’re just bugs. Wouldn’t you rather come back as you are? Why not human?”
You were quiet for a few moments before turning to face me in the dark. You looked me in the eyes, contemplating if I was worthy enough to know this much more about you or if I was to be left pondering your bizarre choice. Finally, you whispered words that I could not understand.
“I want everything I do to bring meaning.”
* * * * * * * *
Tonight is one of the last nights of August. I was meandering through the park at dusk, not quite fast walking but not strolling. I stopped at the pond where you and I would usually meet for our dates and rested my elbows on the fence around it. The sky was clear and a rich, royal, iridescent blue and the tree leaves seemed black against it. A gentle wind rustled the leaves together along with the bushes and flowers around me. It was then that I saw them.
They filled the ground like the stars in the sky. They blinked and moved, swarming around each other gracefully and magically, flickering their lights slowly on and then off. The crickets who saw this called out to each other underneath the fire dance in the sky. A little girl squealed in excitement behind me, pulling at the hands of her parents to point out the fireflies. I looked behind myself to see an older couple kiss. A group of friends all stopped and gazed quietly at the show.
I thought of the fireflies. Their light is actually a call to mate with each other, so the light dancing in the night was a dance of love. They understood the dance perfectly and could change the tempo of their light to change their call. It was just one part of their life, but it was one part that drew notice from all those around them. The other insects, too, would be drawn to the light to probably feast on them. Then those other insects would be satisfied enough to reproduce as well. The fireflies, by calling to their love, could cause so many things to happen. The fireflies created all the commotion around me. They did it all by themselves.
With not much more of a thought, I left the park with a smile. I came home to write this letter to you to tell you that I finally understand.
I hope you are a firefly.