The Solitary Letter

I live in a remote part of the country and have worked for the last twenty years as a postman driving a mail truck from the depot in my town to every far-flung corner of the county, in almost any weather and without regard to cost, it seems to me.

Something has stirred in a government department far above my circle of influence and it has been decided, in remote areas at least, to do away with individual daily deliveries and deposit post for collection at the local post offices on a weekly basis. This may sound harsh or even cruel to you, given how important these fragile missives can be, but a casual disinterest in the feelings of the underprivileged is a characteristic of those in power.

My job gone and my final  round complete, I  travelled back to my town for the last time imagining, as I drove, that a man looking down on me might say, “The mail truck goes down the coast carrying a single letter” because that was the truth.

And it wasn’t just any letter but one addressed to me and from my father from whom I had not heard in thirty years. I have children of my own now, teenagers, and he has never met them. He left our childhood home to chase some new sweetheart across the country and my mother, a decent pious woman if a bit severe, closed the door on him and, as far as possible, erased him from our history.

When I saw the letter I recognised the handwriting because it had been a childhood hobby of mine to sift through family papers and there were many notes from him on his family history and about the adventure of emigrating from England with his parents when he was a boy,

Back at the depot, I picked up the letter from the seat beside me and looked once more at the writing on the envelope; more fragile, perhaps, but clearly his, and removed the letter from inside it.

“Dear Son,” It said, I have only weeks to live and I wish, more than I can describe, to say goodbye to my only boy before I go.”

How he got my address I cannot say, but as I read the letter I realised he was now bedridden and incapable of travel. As I put it down I felt the tears flow down my cheeks, realising that you can love someone without even knowing it.

The truck was not mine to use, but without another thought I re-started the engine and drove off towards the place where he now lived and swore to myself that, whatever the cost, he would not die alone.



About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, Compassion, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Relationships, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The Solitary Letter

  1. mikesteeden says:

    You define the power of gentle words when you write, Sir.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ksbeth says:

    this gave me chills.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Indeed, it is only at such times that we truly connect with our deepest feelings. A fine story and I like the subtle link between the loss of a loved one and the loss of a life-style, and, in fact, the social loss brought about by political change driven by profit. This is a superb sentence: ‘but a casual disinterest in the feelings of the underprivileged is a characteristic of those in power.’ A most enjoyable read, Peter.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Love is entirely an inside job; it matters not what the focus of such feelings has done, felt, expected or responded. If we choose to love, it can only ever be unconditional.

    This “story” reminds me of that fact, and that I should never bother to question the “appropriateness” of my feelings, choosing instead to honor them in whatever way is practical and possible. Sometimes that means letting go, and sometimes that means hanging on just a little longer. Here we see the necessity of both…

    Well done, Peter! Brilliant as ever… 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I really like the story. It sounds sincere and genuine like it really happened to you. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Al says:

    Neither sleet, nor rain, nor gloom of night keep Peter from his appointed rounds of entertaining us…..

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am not able to visit my mother on a regular basis, even more so now, but I write every week, at least once. I know she reads my letters over and over, and whilst I know I will not get a reply, I still write. She’s 95, and will have visits from our five living generations (Mum, my sister, her daughters, her grandaughters and her great grandson, who will be four on Christmas Day. My brothers also have families and grandchildren but are more widespread.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I think I would let mine do so but, to each their own.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. araneus1 says:

    “The mail truck goes down the coast carrying a single letter” — love that image.


  10. restlessjo says:

    The separation was not of the child’s making. You must always wonder. Glad he could have those final moments. 🙂 🙂 Wishing you all the joys of the festive season, Peter.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. judithhb says:

    As always, a thought provoking post. And one has to wonder who made some of the decisions. Close the post office, stop the bus service etc. and those decisions greatly impact many and particularly the elderly. And love must always be uncondional. Thanks Peter and enjoy the mince pies and Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was pulled in with the strong imagery of the solitary mailman in his truck. The disregard for the underprivileged by the power goons certainly rings true in this day and time. I’m glad he fired up the engine and headed toward his dad, after all, it is an imperfect life.


  13. nelle says:

    Bravo! Good call on his part.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This story brought out the feels. Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. What a beautiful, poignant and deeply saddening story… Is this fiction or fact? I guess it doesn’t matter but it is powerful. I believe the mailman did the right thing… ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The depths of what we can, or cannot, forgive.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. renxkyoko says:

    Forgiving the father who has not bothered to look for his only son for 3o years is very noble, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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