A Restrained Letter Is Worthless
Updated: Jan 10
"A Restrained Letter Is Worthless"
A girl writes a letter. She thinks hard about what to say. You see, she wants to make this letter matter, to make it mean something, but she also doesn’t want to expose all of her feelings. So she sits there, for three hours, typing on her iPhone’s “Notes” app and rewriting drafts by hand, wasting card after card. She listens to sad songs, happy songs, and funny songs in order to inspire her, to put her in the right mood. Her handwriting gets smaller and smaller to fit within the letter as she adds things, new ideas tracing their way onto the card before she has any time to evaluate or revise her thoughts. She writes risky things, later erasing them with the ineffective tips of her pencils, making sure to remove any traces of the “treacherous” words’ ever being in the letter; statements such as “I love you” and “you’re gorgeous” are harshly covered with pink bits of eraser in order to never be seen by their receiver. But it’s better safe than sorry: even though all her hard work once again goes away each time she puts the first mark on a new, entirely blank card, there are no embarrassing, touchy-feely words to be found.
Now, she can actually give it to him.
When she sees him for the last time, she runs over to hug him. She hugged him once before, but it was prior to her holding his embrace so highly in her mind; she didn’t appreciate or savor the moment as she does now.
She hands him the letter as she says goodbye. You see, with the letter, she feels better leaving the scene without saying too much, knowing that all she wants to say is more coherent, better placed in a card. So, she goes.
However, as the door to the elevator shuts and she descends to the lobby floor, she realizes all she didn’t say. She remembers the piles of cards left at her house, the quickly-scribbled, erased words that he’ll never see. She remembers her hands working faster than her head, her emotions making her write things she never admitted to herself before.
But, she can’t just go back up now; she has no reason to. She has already given her professional goodbye: any attempt to return to the third floor would be seen as strange. All she can do is walk out the door, leaving the building and moving on with her life.
Yet, she carries the regret with her. The letter, though carefully worded and, luckily, hilariously interpreted, was never an accurate representation of her feelings. Her attempt to cover up any “pathetic vulnerability” made her unable to ever show him what he meant to her.
Later that night, he’ll text her thanks for all that she said because, yes, the letter was nice. I mean, she spent three hours on it, so it must have been thoughtful. But she can’t escalate the sentiment; she lost her chance. Are you really going to arbitrarily say “I love you” in the most informal way--over text? So, she’ll respond with, “Of course. You are amazing. Thank you for all you’ve done,” general phrases that could be cut and pasted from one person to the next. Not the intimate, personalized, loving descriptions of, “I love the sound of your voice; you were everything I was not, and I still wanted to be with you; and, you made me finally believe in love.”
She replies instead with empty words.
And that’s the last conversation they’ll ever have.
She’ll never tell, so he’ll never know.
To think of all that could have been...