by Alexis A. Hunter
I get a letter from my brother every day. He’s been dead for seventeen years.
The first one came the day after his funeral. A dozen pastel envelopes packed the mailbox — condolences from family and friends who couldn’t make it to the service. I clutched these piles of empty words and tucked my head down against the drizzling rain. It peppered the back of my neck, a cold kiss that made me hunch my shoulders up further.
As I stepped onto the porch, a gust of wind snatched away his letter and it stuck against the railing. A single white envelope. So plain. Abnormally small…
…and so achingly familiar.
The condolence cards flipped to the wet grass and lay forgotten. My fingers found the coarse white envelope and gripped it tight. I could not tear my gaze from his name in the upper left corner: PFC Michael E. Colt.
I fought to breathe. My world spun. I sank to the porch, my back pressed against the railing’s wet boards.
His last letter. His last words.
But the date on the envelope read September 5th. It had been mailed the day after the officers came in their dress uniforms to tell us the news.
Trembling fingers. Hunched over the letter to shelter it from the drizzle, I worked slowly to avoid tearing the rain-splotched paper. A furtive glance toward the front door. Mom was asleep. She’d been sleeping a lot since my brother died.
Thin sheet paper. I could still see the outlines of his scrawled handwriting tucked between the folds. I used to tease him — told him that he wrote like a five year old. I brought the paper to my nose and inhaled. Mildew and sand. Or maybe that’s just how I imagined it.
I unfolded the pages.
Sorry I haven’t responded to your last letter…
I dragged my gaze from his words to the date he’d written near my name: September 4.
*** Read on! ***