Obviously, I’ve fallen behind (as it is the 27th and I’m posting my response to the 22nd’s prompt). But I am still working on things.
This prompt — to write a story in the voice that come most easily earlier in the month — seemed deceptively simple. I did persevere with my original idea for this (using what I wrote on May 4th), but I am not particularly happy with how it developed. It got stuck and not much happened.
I am sitting at the table and the envelope is in the middle and I am staring at it.
I know what it says. I am certain what it will say, but I can’t bring myself to open it.
Reaching out, I pick up the envelope and turn it over, and over again.
The return address is from the university I have applied to for grad school.
I really want to go.
But I don’t want to leave.
And I can’t stay here, live here, in this forever house and go to a university that is a seven hour drive away.
Maybe, I suggest to myself, it says no. It says that they are sorry but… I am not the type of candidate that they are looking for.
Then I won’t have to choose.
I turn the envelope over again. I ought to open it.
I am sitting at the dining table, in front of the broad window that looks out behind the house. It does not look much now like it used to. When I was a child, I have a vivid memory of the thicket of trees just beyond the open backyards and the constant rumble of construction equipment.
We were among the first to live here and a lot had changed since then.
I slip my finger under the flap of the envelope and immediately get a small paper-cut.
Sucking on the cut, I open the rest of the envelope.
What am I going to do?
My best friend when I was six went missing out there and I can’t leave. What kind of a thing is that? It sounds like a made-for-tv movie, doesn’t it? But it is my life.
These things happen and they have to happen to someone real.
Dear Ms Hampton, the letter begins.
I take a deep breath.
We are pleased to offer you…
The words are swimming in front of my eyes. They are pleased.
I scan the letter. They are offering a TAship. Money.
And I get up and I go to the window and I am looking out there, desperately searching, as I always do, for some sign of Tim.
Ever since that day, there has been nothing.
I look at the letter and see the unfolding of my life. The research, the work. The possibilities that will come after. There is a whole world opening in front of me and I can barely catch my breath.
I let my eyes close and I begin to picture it in detail. Going to the university. The classes, the people.
Not like the local university I commuted to, so small. A proper, research-oriented place instead.
All the people, the ideas.
I don’t know how long I sit like that, picturing the whole thing. This life of mine.
This life that could be mine.
My eyes snap open and I look at the letter and crumple it in my hand.
How can I possibly leave Tim?