I don’t know why I didn’t throw them away sooner. Maybe I thought they would bring him back. My hand hovered over the trashcan. I pulled it away wanting one last look before I lost them forever. The letters were all written in his quirky, uneven handwriting. I smiled to myself. He wrote like he talked: rapidly and full of enthusiasm. As my eyes scanned over the lines, I could hear the way his voice would have sounded if he were speaking the words. It was somewhere between low tenor and baritone—the perfect mix of highs and lows. It rambled on about everyday things in a one-sided conversation.
He told me how crazy his boss was and swore that his professors were trying to kill him with large amounts of homework. I grinned as he said, “Of course you wouldn’t know about that since you never have homework.” It was our joke. I wanted to be a lawyer and my classes were always more involved than his. I liked to tease him about the “work” he did in his classes. He was getting a degree in creative writing, and I never missed an opportunity to jokingly tell him that making up stories wasn’t work.
The letters went on and brought to my mind his light-hearted brown eyes and the big smile that took over his whole face. I heard the laughing way he spoke when he teased me about being so serious, and the way his voice rose slightly when he was trying to get me to tell him something I was trying to keep to myself. No matter how I resisted, he always won. I always felt better after I told him. The letters took on a more serious tone. His voice softened as I read the word “beautiful” and I felt his hand brush the hair out of my face. It was low as it whispered, “I love you.”
I came to the last letter, but I didn’t read it. The words it contained were burned into my mind. It would have brought his anguished voice asking me to reconsider—chastising me for being ridiculous. He would have told me that our differences didn’t matter, that our relationship was more important than careers or what others thought. I would have seen the pain in his eyes as he realized I had my mind made up.
I put the letters back over the trashcan. I had made my decision, and it was too late to change it. My eyes watered as I whispered, “Sorry.” I let the letters fall.
This is loosely based on writing prompt 35 from Thain in Vain.