“Ashlyn Brooks, look at you! It’s unhealthy to stay cooped up in this house. It’s time to move on, get your life back in order.” My Gran came around the counter and put her coffee cup in the dishwasher. I leaned against the kitchen sink, gripping my container of brownie batter ice cream, and prepared myself for more.
My reflection stared back at me in the hall mirror. I took a quick inventory; Gran was right. My curly shoulder-length blond hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail with a bright pink scrunchie; my favorite pink pajama bottoms and black tank top hung looser than a month ago. I knew I didn’t look presentable, but the only destination on my agenda was the living room couch with my new best friend Ben’s Ice Cream, to watch a far-from-realistic love story on Lifetime. Not only did Ben not care how I dressed but he wholeheartedly agreed that love never lasts like in the movies. He knew, as I did, that life just doesn’t work that way.
“I know, Gran,” I said, rolling my eyes. How many times was I going to have to hear that I needed to start living again? No one understood what I was going through. “I just need more time. When I go out, I feel like everyone in this small town is looking at me. Gran, I can’t face people every day, knowing they feel sorry for me since my husband took off.”
She touched my shoulder lightly. “I understand, child, but this is no life either. You’re young, and love will find you again. You must live and open your heart. Just think about what I say.” She leaned over to kiss my forehead “Goodnight, child.”
“Night, Gran.” I followed her out of the kitchen, and headed back to the living room with a heavy load on my shoulders. I knew she was right, but at the same time, I didn’t want to face the residents of Cedar Grove. Maybe coming back home wasn’t the best idea, after all.
As she turned toward the steps, the doorbell rang. “Who could that be this late? Are you expecting someone?”
This was going to be one of those nights, and I suspected I would never find out how the movie ended. Grumbling, I told her, “No, but go on. I’ll get it.”
I opened the door to find a kid standing there. He couldn’t have been older than seventeen. “Can I help you?”
“I have a letter for Ms. Ashlyn Brooks.”
My mood still wasn’t good. “Is that what teenagers do nowadays, steal other people’s mail? If it’s not your mail you, shouldn’t take it. You’re young, but that’s a federal crime.”
The young boy stood in the doorway looking scared to death. “I…I work for Pete’s Delivery,” the kid stammered, “over on 5th Street. He asked me to deliver this today along with my other packages. I would have delivered it sooner, but this one fell on the floor. I didn’t notice it until I picked up my girlfriend for dinner.”
Taking the envelope from the boy, I nodded, and complained. “Get back to your date and thanks for bringing it by. I won’t tell your boss it was late.”
As he returned to his car, I inspected the envelope, wondering who it could be from. I slid my forefinger under the lip of the envelope, noting that there wasn’t a return address. I found that to be odd, yet interesting. As the envelope came unsealed, my hands shook with nerves.
Welcome home, Ashlyn!
I have watched from afar for much too long.
It’s finally time I told you how I feel.
I have loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you,
and shall until the day I draw my final breath.
When the time is right, I will reveal myself to you.