A letter in the mailbox. Block handwriting, all caps and slight slant. A postage stamp with the face of Eleanor Roosevelt. An envelope swelling with pages and drops of rain.
You slip it in your jacket pocket to keep the drizzle from further dampening the words but take your time walking the steps, matching each footfall to the thump of your heart. Dusk has fallen, free from the burden of the day and growing shadows on your walls. Joni Mitchell is singing through your stereo, her pipe organ voice preaching of life’s cycle around a carnival ride, the train of age that roams without brakes. You keep the lights off, lighting candles and placing them in clusters through the living room, categorized by scent- citrus freshly squeezed atop the coffee table, floral rose and lavender floating across the cherry wood bookshelf, sans books since you moved volumes to a chest in your bedroom.
Your jacket hangs across the couch, exhausted from keeping your manila treasure safe. You brush it as you move into the cushions and unfold yourself into the leather, sliding out the envelope that’s been waiting patiently. Joni is now launching into “Court and Spark,” spurring your fingers to slide open the mystery in your hand.
Lined white pages stained with black ink focus before your face, and with a twitch of your lips, triggered by the name you know is etched at the bottom of the last page, you wade into the salutation, each line covering more of your skin, until you are immersed in its waters.