by Kevin Michaels
The last thing she said before hanging up was, “Please read the letter.” The sheets of paper were spread out in front of me now, like her body had once laid open for the taking, untouched despite the words written in blue ink on each page. I thought about our talks of a future together - plans that had been made and shared, like the ones that October day when we drove out to New Hope and spent an afternoon wandering throughout dozens of antique shops, the whole time sipping hot chocolate and pretending we could afford to be something more than dreamers and hopeless romantics. There had been a chill in the air that weekend - I had never realized how quickly or unexpectedly it could find its way inside our conversations; feeling again the sting in her words and the bitterness in her voice that still came at me some times at night while I laid awake, staring at the ceiling with her pack of cigarettes unopened on the table by our bed. I thought about the sound of her footsteps in the hall and the smell of her perfume drifting throughout the bedroom every time I opened a closet door, as well as the loneliness I felt every morning when I reached for her. The room stayed empty and dark, and the letter untouched except by a breeze that blew through an open window, scattering the papers to the floor where they stayed for weeks.
Kevin Michaels, author of With Every Word, is everything New Jersey (attitude, edginess, Bruce Springsteen, and Tony Soprano). The author of two upcoming novels ("Bounce" and "Still Black Remains"), he has also written a number of short stories and articles. He lives at the Jersey Shore and refuses to leave.