wrong decision

I drove through Spokane recently--a few times, really. It's become a sort of Mecca of existential angst--I always see the familiar sights and the exits and think of how it used to be my future. I stopped at a Spokane Valley exit this time. The gas station was closed, but I'd been here before, so I got out anyway, wandered around--I was looking for something. I wasn't sure what, but I found it, after peering in the darkened windows and walking around the edge of the building.

I stood in one of the parking spaces for a while, staring at the pre-dawn sky, picturing everything that could have been if I'd made one different decision. Eventually I walked back to the car and headed back west. Turns out I'd taken a wrong exit, but there would be plenty of gas stations between here and Seattle. I decided it was best not to worry about it.


secret notes

I've been writing a message since February of 2006. Everything I've written since then has been in code: misspelled words or weird grammar, cues--if someone were to analyze it all, or even most of it, I'm sure they'd find it. I never actually figured anyone would read it, or even take the time, but it's there. I've only just now completed it, but it's there.

I do that a lot: leave secret notes out in the open, hope someone will find it, will understand. One day I hope someone will say "I know everything you've been writing--all those secret notes." And they can't just say that, they have to know. We can sit down over coffee. I'll buy lunch. And we'll talk, and I'll really, truly be honest about everything. I need someone who knows my secrets without me telling them. I'm only ever honest when I'm wrapping my message in code--well, here it is. My coded message. It took me two years but I'm done.


insufficient postage, pt. ii

Ever since writing about the letter I found myself thinking about it more than I had before. I saw it more often and eventually grabbed it and put it in my jacket pocket, without really thinking about it. I subsequently forgot that I had done so.

Today I was digging through my pockets for a spare scrap of paper and found it again. I didn't read it very closely but in it I talked about how I had always wanted to burn a letter--how poetic it would be. I had hoped that letter, the one I wanted to burn, would be one written by the recipient, of course.

The letter I'd written had become a monument to all of my failures. I never considered myself the type of person who was capable of such venom--something I have always thought of as inexcusable in every way. For some reason I felt I needed to remind myself, privately, that I could still fail.

When I found it in my pocket I immediately thought of opening it and reading it, but the words, the writing, the shape, kept me from doing so. Then I thought of the matches I kept in my pocket, and without a word I went outside. It was raining and a little windy, and the matchbook had all but lost its friction, but on the second match I kept the flame going long enough to light the letter aflame. I dropped it on the driveway and watched it burn, staying to make sure the last remnants of ash and soot had burned away. The wind, and my breath on the embers, scattered the remains.

I haven't checked yet, but a pair of used matches ought to be all that remains--if even that much.


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