Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MAIL (02/18/16)
- TITLE: Much Anticipated
By Gary Ritter
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Minutes slipped by. Where was the postman? She glanced at her clock on the end table by the couch. 11:33. Had the neighbor’s dog delayed him? That awful beast growled and barked from morning to night. It wouldn’t surprise Margaret that he’d taken a bite out of the postman’s leg and sent him to the hospital. That had never happened before, but there was always a first time.
Nerves set in. Margaret’s fingers twitched. They drummed against the aluminum rails of her walker. Her feet hurt. If the postman didn’t come soon, Margaret would have to shuffle back to the couch and await him there. She didn’t want to do that. It meant that much more time until she’d see the letter. She’d have to struggle up off her seat and make her way back to the door in order to open it. Precious minutes!
She had to rest. However, a quick peek outside wouldn’t hurt. Maybe she’d see the postman coming. It hurt to turn the knob with her swollen, arthritic fingers. When the postman came she might have to ask him to open the letter for her. She managed to crack the door and stick her head outside. There was Mrs. McCawley and Mr. Bennett taking their late morning constitutionals. Margaret’s heart sank. Not a sign of the postman. If she were younger and more spry she’d pull up a chair and wait, watching the bustle of her neighbors. Perhaps she’d fix a nice cup of tea instead.
With an ear to the door she made her way to the cupboard, removing a teabag and her cup. She filled a container with water and placed it in the microwave. She didn’t like this modern contraption, but something was wrong with the stove and she had no choice. In a couple minutes she removed the container and let her tea steep. Another glance at the clock in the living room. 11:57. My goodness! He was so late!
Margaret added milk and sugar to her tea and took a sip. She winced at how tepid it tasted. Was that microwave acting up again? She’d have to talk to the management of this apartment. If they were going to fully furnish it, surely they had an obligation to make things work properly.
The morning newspaper lay on the coffee table where the nice woman who woke her had left it earlier. Its headlines had proved incomprehensible at first glance. There was so much happening in the world. It had seemingly passed her by. She settled onto the couch, her right hip aching, and perused the rest of the front page. The words took on a sameness in each article she read. In fact, yesterday’s paper hadn’t been all that different. She set it down in disgust.
Knock. Knock. Oh, there he was! Margaret pushed herself up with difficulty and hobbled to greet her visitor. “Mr. Erickson, how glad I am to see you. Do you have my letter?”
The postmen smiled, yet she saw something not quite right in his eyes. “Is there a problem, Mr. Erickson? You look so sad.”
“Nothing seeing you won’t fix, Mrs. Hanson. Here’s your letter.”
She accepted it with gratitude and fumbled with the flap.
“Here, let me help you.” The postman slid his finger along the edge and the envelope popped open. He handed it back with the letter sticking out.
Margaret unfolded it, and there it was! Her husband had written as she’d hoped. She devoured the letter and placed a hand over her heart. “He’s coming to get me. It says he was delayed by business, but it won’t be long now. Soon I can leave this place.”
“You just have patience, Mrs. Hanson. I know you’ll be watching for him, but I’ll keep an out, too.”
“You’re a wonderful man, Mr. Erickson. For a postman you have such compassion. You would have made a lovely physician. Such a marvelous bedside manner.”
“You have a good day, Mrs. Hanson.”
Dr. Erickson had once again lied to his patient, writing in place of her deceased husband. Was it right? It made her happy. He made his way down the hall of the Alzheimer’s wing of the nursing home.
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