The Special Envelope
Inaaya Ahmed, Grade 10
Esme Miller’s fingers tremble around the railing as she struggles to make her way downstairs. She was an old lady, the wrinkles were visible all over her body, and Esme was aware of this. She never attempted to conceal them, but the reminder of her age always managed to irritate her.
As she travelled to the kitchen for her morning tea, her little bob cut swayed back and forth. She had chopped her hair off, and it was the one feature she loved about aging. Nobody cared about the way she looked.
Esme had been married once. In fact, her entire life revolved around Him. The other women in town were envious of the pair; she was the most beautiful and He was the most handsome. The two were known as the fairytale couple. So when He died right before Christmas, a part of Esme died too.
It’s been 50 years since His death, but everyday for Esme Miller was painful. They were supposed to complete their fairytale together, but He had decided to leave it incomplete. She was supposed to adorn herself everyday for Him, and await His arrival from work. He was supposed to shower her with gifts. They were supposed to build a family together, with His smile and her eyes. Their love was supposed to blossom. Instead, here she was.
Christmas was especially difficult. Esme had not once thought about celebrating it, nor was she tempted by the carolers who sang outside her door, or the embellished tree in the town square. There was no point, afterall, who could she have spent it with other than her love?
With her tea in hand, Esme stood by the window, silently tuning in to the excited chirping from the townsfolk outside who were preparing for Christmas. She couldn’t believe how their lives were so joyous, so uplifting. Suddenly, she heard scuffling outside her door, followed by a firm knock-knock. With a sigh, she plastered on a fake smile and opened the door, expecting another cheerful person. Instead, she was greeted with a gleaming envelope, scrawled on it with her name in scratchy writing, Ms. Miller.
It was as if the envelope was magic. Esme knew it was a Christmas card and she would feel sorrowful after opening it, yet something inside her urged her to rip open the seal. She gingerly plucked the paper from within, noticing almost immediately that the paper was yellow and frayed. It was obvious it had been written long ago, as when she opened the paper, the date read “1950”. Exactly 50 years ago.
Esme clutched her chest, her breaths quickened. She was flooded with memories of Him, and it wouldn’t stop. She closed her eyes, in efforts that the pain would dissolve. It had to have been a coincidence, receiving an envelope from 1950. Surely it wasn’t Him, He couldn’t communicate. Esme relaxed, her heart returning to its normal rhythm. She slowly opened her eyes. She then realized the letter was no longer in her hands and the home around her was gone.
She was in a darkly lit room, with nothing around her but a severed hospital bed. Esme recognized this as the hospital in which He died. Her heart lurched into her throat when she saw, in the bed, He laid, humming to Himself. Esme stood there, unable to reach out to Him. He was just as He left her, His skin and hair much younger and bolder than hers. He was furiously scribbling on a slip of paper, as if He was in a hurry. He eventually set the pencil down, cleared His throat, and began to read what He’d written in a shaky voice:
Esme Miller, my love. This letter will make it to you in a time of need. How I will miss you dearly after my departure, you can not imagine. I will miss how you would tell me stories of our future together, and how excited I would see you be for Christmastime. My love, I know you will grieve, but do not let my death conclude the story. Yet, continue to the next chapter. Our tale has not ended, and you must keep writing it. I will not be here for Christmas, but you will honour our favourite holiday, and keep my spirit alive. As long as you do, I will always remain with you. You will be the one who writes the happily ever after to our story.
He folded up the letter, placing it in the envelope. He kissed it, and Esme could have sworn she saw the envelope start to glow. He let it drop down to the floor. He looked up, right at Esme, and then He slowly shut his eyes, as he drifted off into a forever sleep.
Within a blink of an eye, Esme was back at the house, with the familiar buzz outside. She saw the shiny envelope once more, at her feet. She picked it up, and instead of her name, it read, I’m always here. Esme had thought her heart would pound, her hands would sweat, at the mere mention of Him. Instead she grinned out of pure happiness. Instead of pounding, her heart started to swell, and she made her way to the basement of her home to dig up the old Christmas decorations. It was all the doing of the “spirit” of Christmas.