This is my response to Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #32. The challenge, to write a piece of flash fiction based on the great photo below. My entry is a 300-word drama. Thanks to Fandango for organising a great prompt. Like the story, don’t like the story, either way why not pop over and have a go yourself.
At its peak, the post office had been a hive of activity. Pigeon holes overrun with letters waiting to be delivered across town. Now the pigeon holes stood empty, gathering dust, the mail workers long gone.
She traced a finger through the thick dust along the well-worn wooden counter, its path stopping just before the end. On tiptoes she stretched up, her fingers fumbling, searching until she found it. Pulling the grubby envelope down she blew the worst of the dust off. The motes glinted brightly in the morning light.
It had been a decade since the post office had closed. Three decades before that when she’d hidden the letter and not a day had gone past since that she hadn’t thought about it, about him. She recalled the day she’d received the telegram, it had broken her. She’d lost her life that day, as surely as he’d lost his.
When finally she’d made it back to work, back to sorting the mail, she’d been numb, a hollowed-out husk just trying to get through each day. That was until Jim came along. He would save her life, become her life, but she would never shake off the guilt of giving up her erstwhile dreams.
The letter had turned up a couple of months after the wedding. It wasn’t unusual for correspondence from the front to be delayed. She’d recognised the handwriting instantly. It was her job, it was her love, it was her worst nightmare. Collapsing onto the floor she’d clutched the letter to her breast, wracked with sorrow and guilt. She could not bring herself to open it, so she’d done the only thing she could.
A lifetime later, she’d buried Jim and looked back at her life with no regrets, bar one.
With shaking hands, she tore open the letter.