Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.
Alright, just tossed this together, not sure if the ending is strong enough. What do you think?
I always hated working nights at the diner. I’d get the occasional family, some quiet people, but not many. No, most of what I got on those long nights were college students from the campus. Just a few years younger than me, a constant reminder of what I could have done if things had been better.
They didn’t tip well, didn’t eat much. They came in as loud, needy groups, or by themselves laden with books and papers. I poured their coffee, cleaned up booths covered in ketchup and eraser smudges after they left, and hated each and every one of them, except one.
One of them came in one night, shaking the rain from her coat as she went. She sat down at the bar, and ordered a coffee. She had a bookbag with her, but she didn’t take out any work. Instead, she waited, her eyes darting towards the big window every few seconds. Finally, she went to the bathroom, taking her bag with her.
When she picked up her bag, an open envelope fell onto the bar. I saw a handwritten letter slide out. And I knew that I should have just left it alone, but my worse nature got the better of me. I scooped it up, and started to read.
I’m sorry that it took so long for me to write you, but I wanted to make sure that you could think about this for yourself, instead of letting Mom tell you what you should think about it. Now that you’re in college, I hope you’re away from that.
Look, I know my leaving was hard on you, and I know that there can never be a good reason to have left you there alone. You were the only regret I had.
But I had to do what I did. Mom wouldn’t let me tell you about Becky. She never wanted you to see her, never wanted you to be the same disappointment I was. I know this is probably terrible of me, but I’m not sorry that she doesn’t want to see me still. Becky is too precious for me to share with someone so hateful.
Maggie, I know you went through hell these last few years. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there when Dad died. But I just couldn’t have Becky around that. She didn’t need to face that.
When I was going to Pitt, there was this little diner just off campus. If you can, meet me there on Friday.
Hoping to see you,
The girl was coming back from the bathroom. I stuffed the letter back in the envelope, and set it back on the bar. She had her phone out, and stopped long enough to toss some money on the bar and grab her letter. I watched her look toward the door, as an older woman walked in, holding the hand of a three year old girl.
She knelt down to say something to the little girl, then give her a hug. With the little girl in her arms, Maggie gave the woman a hug. When she pulled away, there were tears in her eyes.