The Last Letter

The storm charged toward the shore, and Elizabeth knew it wouldn’t be long. She sat on the porch in the same place it all started. Elizabeth grew up here. She married and gave birth to two beautiful kids here. Here, she nursed her babies while the ocean waves tumbled along the beach. This was home. More memories flooded her mind as she practiced the signature with her husband’s pen one more time on the scratchpad.

“Oh, this pen,” Elizabeth digressed as the ink fought its way onto the page.

Her husband cherished the pen, a gift received during an eighteen-day family vacation to South Africa years ago. She bought it for him from a market on the side of the road along the garden route from Durban to Cape Town. The artist handcrafted the pen from eucalyptus and fashioned one end into a rhino’s head. Its Malachite eye watched her with suspicion as it had her husband. This pen and her memories were all that remained from the trip.

She gazed at its Rhino’s eye, reminded that he only used the pen to write love letters to her.

“This pen writes not by my hand, but by my heart,” her husband used to tell her.

Each morning, Elizabeth would discover a handwritten note next to her favorite coffee mug alongside the freshly brewed pot of coffee he made for her. By her favorite spot on the porch, each of the 4,380 notes, one for each day of the last twelve years, was archived in reverse chronological order in the table drawer. The last one was from yesterday.

 “My dearest Elizabeth. The years have been good to us. Two amazing kids, laughter, tears, ups, and downs, with mainly ups spanning almost two and a half decades. I remember our first date, our first kiss, our wedding day, making love hidden among the dunes of Shackleford banks. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Things are different now. We used to wake up each morning in a knot under the covers. We rarely share a room for sleep now. What I am saying is we’ve changed. I’ll always love you. My heart has an eternal reservation for you, but two months ago, I met someone else. I’m writing you this last letter to let you know I’m leaving.
Please understand this is not your fault. It’s mine. I’ve grown apart from you. I don’t know why and I wish I could change it, but I’ve lost hope, It wouldn’t be fair to you for me to stay. I will ensure that you and the kids are taken care of, and I will continue to provide the means for you to stay in this house. I know how much you love the porch and your rocking chair. Please forgive me and understand I need to do this for myself.
Love always,

Elizabeth read it again—every word. In the last 24 hours, she’d re-read all his letters to her, each time scrutinizing the way he made his “C” skinny and tall and how he capitalized the letter “A” with a triangle. Satisfied, she smiled, took a note card from her lap, and wrote. Elizabeth moved the pen around the page, her “G” looped like a “6”, just as he’d written them.

“Perfect,” she said out loud.

When she finished writing, Elizabeth folded the paper and placed it in the envelope precisely as he did. Now, she needed only to wait.

Tomorrow, they would find Graham’s poems, prose, and anniversary notes. They would find 4,379 letters on the porch in the table's drawer next to her favorite spot. And they would find one last note on the floor beneath Graham Freeman's lifeless body.

 “My dearest Elizabeth, I love you and the kids, but I have betrayed you. The guilt has eaten my heart like cancer. I cannot go on. Please forgive me as I attempt one more letter to ease the pain that will undoubtedly come with this admission.
I wish I could take back the things I’ve done behind closed doors and in hushed rooms. I am sorry, but I can’t undo it. I hope you will speak well of me to the kids. You were my life and my love. I’ve failed you. Goodbye.
Love always,

Press ESC to close.