Return to Sender

Jessica unlocked the front door. Nerves began to flutter in her stomach. She had been seeing Tom for a few weeks now but she hadn’t dated since Walter left so she wasn’t sure of the etiquette. She turned to him. They had had a lovely meal in the city. Tom had left his car at her home and they had taken the train. He didn’t drink but she had had a glass of wine with dinner. Now standing at her front door Tom looked more unsure than she did.

“Would you like to come in?” she asked.

Tom was a middle aged widower with a strong chin and warm eyes. They were members of the same book club. Jessica’s friend, Tina, had encouraged her when Tom asked her to coffee.

She opened the door and they both entered the little suburban home that was nothing special but Jessica kept beautifully. They had to step over a pile of mail.

“Take a seat,” said Jessica as she retrieved the letters. “Would you like some tea?”

Tom nodded in agreement and wandered cautiously towards the living room.

There was a small television. Jessica was more of a reader so she had never upgraded to an up to date model. Tom smiled to himself thinking how very like her it was.

He sat on the sofa that didn’t seem to have been used too much leaving the arm chair under the lamp alone. It was clearly Jessica’s favourite.

After setting the kettle to boil she followed him. She was still clutching the letters in her hand. Tom watched her. He sat with the same straight backed pose he would adopt in the doctor’s office.

Jessica’s eyes widened. She was staring at a simple white envelope. She recognised the handwriting immediately. The bold script hit her heart sharper than a knife.

“Is something wrong?” Tom asked. His concern was genuine. The colour had drained from her so quickly and so completely she looked ill.

Hair had fallen in front of her face. She didn’t push the strands back. She just continued to stare at the letter. Several post marks had been stamped across it. It had circled the city several times before finally reaching its rightful destination. The messy but determined hand writing had probably confused the post service.

“Do you want me to leave?” asked her date sensitively. Tom’s voice sounded like a faint echo in her ears. It brought her to her senses.

“This letter is from my son,” she explained. She couldn’t bring herself to open it.

Tom had heard mention of Jessica’s son. His name was Dorian and such an unusual name stuck in his mind. He knew Jessica didn’t see him any more but he had never pressed her as to why. A photo sat on the mantle showed Jessica proudly holding tightly onto a boy in his late teens with ink black hair and a lip piercing. He was smiling too but there was an air of melancholy about him. Some may call it a poets spirit.

“He’s dead,” she blurted out. Her voice danced sadly on the edge of a sob.

“He died?” Tom had to clarify.

Jessica gathered herself, still keeping the letter between her fingers, unopened.

“He took his own life. A few months back.”

Tom sat forward. “I’m so sorry to hear that Jess.”

“He sent this letter before he died. It’s been lost in the post all this time.”

It was like Dorian to send a hand written note. He always thought emails were so impersonal.

With courage Jessica peeled open the letter. Her heart fluttered again when she saw Dorian’s scrawl fill the page. And so she began to read the last thing Dorian had ever thought to say to her.

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Follow Jessica’s journey as she tries to unravel the terrible secret her son tried to take to his grave.


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