Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)
TITLE: Erica's Daughter
By Marita Vandertogt
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But it wasn’t like all the others. This letter was special. This letter took her days and days to write, put away for a week at a time, and then pull out to write again. Every word written on it was carefully calculated, back and forth in her mind. It was written, and rewritten until finally she knew it would have to do.
“It’s just a letter,” Bill said. “Doesn’t matter how you say it, she’ll understand what you mean.”
“But she’s never met me Bill, she doesn’t know me, how I say things, how I mean things.” Erica felt tears push at her eyes, stinging the back of them.
“Yah, well, I thought you women all talked the same language anyway.” He poured a cup of coffee and sat down beside her. “Anyway, whatever the answer, that doesn’t change who you are, not to me, not to anybody.”
Erica squeezed her eyes shut. He didn’t understand. This was a baby she gave up so many years ago. A baby she never stopped thinking about for one minute after. And her daughter had contacted her, by letter. The writing on the envelope was big, flowery, with circles for dots. It reminded her of her own. Her hands shook when she opened it. She knew it was coming, but felt like she was caught in a dream when it actually lay in front of her.
“Dear Birth Mom”, she started it out, clearly making the distinction. Erica felt a chill run through her body. But the rest of the letter was good.
“I understand you would like to meet me. I would like that too, but unfortunately I live a thousand miles away. Maybe we can connect via letter for awhile. I will write again soon, but in the meantime, let’s not do email, or even the phone. I like this. And if you don’t mind, I feel safer for now with the space the letters give me. Gives me time to get to know you and get used to the idea that you want to get to know me.” She’d signed it “Regards, Allison.”
After that sentence Erica felt big round tears from her eyes hit the paper. The same round tears that scalded her face the day she made the decision to hand her baby to a better life. The large blue letters started to blur together. She refolded the sheets and put them back in the envelope. The address was Florida, and Erica lived in North Dakota. Well, this would do for now. She’d finished off with “send me a picture, a recent one, and maybe one when you were younger. I want to know.”
Erica wasn’t sure what it was she wanted to know but she had tucked the two photos into the envelope. Now she would have to wait again for the next letter. She really wished Allison would at least accept a phone call, but she understood the need for time to help her adjust to being found.
Erica didn’t know where this would go, if the girl she gave up so many years ago would finally take her back, so she would have to let time work things out.
“Hey,” she heard Bill call from the door he was holding open. “You coming or not. It’s getting cold out here.” The boys were waiting in the car, hockey gear crammed in the back. “Yah,” she smiled, tugging on her hat and gloves.
“Hey mom,” she listened to the familiar chatter of her oldest son as he pulled the sides of his hat down to his chin making the other two boys laugh. Maybe someday her daughter would be here too, filling in the empty space the day she left. Erica knew it was a dream. The most she could hope for would be an occasional visit, and lots and lots of good old fashioned handwritten letters that would build a new history for them. A history of love.
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