(sequel to The wrong postbox)
The doorbell rang and I saw a gentleman in the black and white suit standing at my door. He looked like he came from 1950’s. Not that he was born then, no. He looked as if he just came out of a car from almost eighty years ago and landed at my door. He was in his 60’s, his manners were distinctively polite and he seemed to smile a lot.
I rubbed my eyes and pinched myself, just to check if I was dreaming, but I wasn’t. Apparently Virginia Browning was his sister and he came to collect a letter that she sent to this address. It was a mix-up. He said she had put the letter into a wrong envelope and so it got sent to the wrong address, never reaching its proper destination. She wrote another letter, which was meant to go elsewhere, and it seems that she has mixed up the envelopes for these two letters.
I was holding one of the letters, I was squeezing it in fact being nervous because of what I just heard and not sure how to talk to someone who came from the past. My hands started to feel watery and the envelope crumpled at my touch. The gentleman had another letter. He opened it and showed it to me. I didn’t really want to read it at this stage but I had no choice:
Dear Mr. B…… (the surname was blurred)
I looked into the matter of selling your house, the one across the river, further from the centre of the town. The family of five decided to buy it, but due to unforeseen circumstances they had to withdraw their offer. I then decided to buy it myself, but I am having trouble reaching you. Every letter I send seems to come back. I will send this one to your aunt, and should it also come back, I will come in person and hand it to you myself.
Mrs. Virginia Browning
This letter was intended for my grandfather, who was a young man at the time. I had no idea if the family still owned that house but what did it matter now, I wondered? She must be long gone. Unless… I swallowed a few word before I was able to speak. “And how can I help you, Sir?” He smiled, which was no surprise. “Is your grandfather around?”, he uttered. I wondered if I should say the truth or not, but my words were quicker than my mind and so I responded, “Yes, he is sitting there reading newspapers in front of the house across the street”. The man thanked me and walked over to my grandfather. My grandfather’s face lit up when he saw the gentleman approaching but I have no knowledge as to what they spoke about. The man also forgot to ask for the letter I had, the one his sister wrote to her long lost love. A few unsettled questions formed in my mind, but I soon decided to let them go. I still had no sufficient understanding who this letter was for, nor why it landed at my door. I went into the house, and walked upstairs to my room. I stored the letter in a box. Perhaps at some later stage this mystery will be solved.
© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 24th April 2015)