The manila envelope hung heavy in her hands. Her sweat stained it dark around the edges, where she had fingered the flap in the days past. She knew what the interior contained and yet didn’t want to face it in dark ink on fresh paper…the sentences that would forever change her world.
She sat barefoot on the cement steps, her toes touching a bit of sunlight. The cat sat beside her, the steady hum of her purr creating a cadence of normalcy. Her children ran around her, circling with buzzing rhythm. Their innocence keeping them unknowing of the impending storm.
Her finger lay heavy across the address the letter had been mailed from. The numbers and letters seemed to settle themselves into her flesh. No need to open the envelope. The heat of its contents seemed to seep through the seams. She knew that they would burn more than her heart, this would be a life changing blaze.
She was putting off the inevitable. The letter had arrived days before and she just couldn’t bring herself to reveal its contents. She thought that by leaving that seal closed firmly…that she could prevent the contents from divulging themselves to her. She knew that once that papers were released, there would be no going back. It wasn’t like she didn’t know the contents, she just wanted to stop them up, keep herself in this reality for awhile more. She wasn’t ready for the changes that were emblazoned on the page, and soon to be tattooed on her mind, and in her heart.
It was one of those moments, with the dappled sunlight kissing her toes, and the laughter of children surrounding her; that she felt she was dreaming. It was all so surreal.She had never imagined that her life would turn out like this. She had always dreamed of so much more. This letter had never made its way into her dreams. This was just a nightmare. Nothing like what her childhood dreams had spoken of. And there was no one to hold her when the tears fell and screams filled her lungs this time. She was alone.
Lifting her head, a haze still marring her eyes, she wonders. How is it that life just seems to go on, when devastation lies just beyond the horizon. It seems like life should be stoppable in this freeze frame and yet it continues on, in some macabre dance around you as your world slowly melts into destruction.
Taking a deep breathe, she sat taller on the step, clenched her jaw and turned the envelope over. Her fingers made quick work of the seal, and as she reached her hand in to gather the contents she knew that it couldn’t be put off forever. The edge of the paper felt like a knife on her skin as she slid it out into the sunlight’s glaring brightness. Nothing could be hidden any longer, it was time to face this dance she hadn’t ask for.
The first lines jumped right off the page, searing her vision ‘We regret to inform you…’ and she felt her body begin to shake, the words began to blur as tears fell from her face and her heart began to wish it didn’t know this rhythm. Nothing would ever be the same again.