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Dear Laura


     We, my wife and I, had just moved into the cabin. It was small and overlooked a lake in the Maine wilderness. It was a secluded place, about a mile off the road that we had taken to get here, and an hour from the small town where we had stopped at the local bait shop to ask for directions. I had done most of the corresponding with the realtor over the phone and had only been out to see the cabin once before. My wife had never seen it at all.

     It had electricity, phones, and running water, but it also came with a gas-powered generator in a shed out back. My wife had been a little worried about the generator, saying that the power couldn't be too reliable if they felt it necessary to include it with the house. The view from the front porch, however, had convinced her to overlook the possibility of living without power every now and then.

     The cabin had a large stone fireplace in the living room, a small kitchen, one bathroom, (hooked up to the generator, of course,) and a loft that overlooked the living room. The master bedroom was intended to be up on the loft. Actually, it would probably be more accurate to say that the one and only bedroom was intended to be on the loft. It was a small cabin, but my wife and I were both retired and this seemed like the perfect place to relax and spend our summers in peace and quiet.

     The cabin also came with a stack of five letters in the mailbox.

     After the moving truck left and all of our possessions were sitting in boxes in the living room, my wife drove up the mile long driveway to mail some post cards she had picked up on the cross-country journey to our new abode. When she returned, she was holding a stack of letters and had a puzzled look on her face.

     "What ya got there?" I asked.

     She handed me the stack of letters. "These were in the mailbox," she said. "They must have been meant for the previous owner."

     I looked at the five letters in my hand. There was no return address on any of them, and they all appeared to have been sent by the same person. The address on each letter was written in the same handwriting, and each letter was addressed simply "Laura." It looked as if special care had been taken in writing the address on each letter and they were all postmarked over a year ago. I shrugged as I handed them back to my wife, "Beats me. The realtor should have checked the box."

     "Well, let's just find out." She said as she began to open one of the letters.

     I started to object about snooping through someone else's mail, but she seemed to sense my disapproval before I said anything. "Well, we bought the house, didn't we? It's our address now and these letters were sent to our address."

     "But neither one of us is named Laura." I pointed out.

     Undeterred, my wife answered, "Well, I'm sure that wherever this Laura is, she'll want these letters. Since there is no return address, we'll just have to read them and see if there are any hints about who she is. Maybe there's an address in one of the letters. We're doing this woman a favor."

     I saw that she had that stubborn look on her face, the one that meant all arguing would be pointless so I just sat back and listened as she read each letter out loud.

June 13, 1998
Dear Laura,

     I miss you so much! I think daily of how beautiful and gentle you are and yet, I know that my memory can never paint a picture to do you justice. I long for the day when I will see you again. The thought of seeing you again is all that keeps me going. How I look forward to being with you, to kissing you and running my fingers through your golden blond hair.

     I miss all the tiny little things about you, all the quirks that make you, you. I miss the way you brush your hair out of your eyes, even when it isn't in the way. I miss listening to you sing in the shower, for your voice will silence songbirds, and cause them to fall from their perches, dead from jealousy. I miss the way you talk in your sleep, the nights are so quiet here and my bed, so lonely.

     I even miss the way you steal the covers from me in the middle of the night! Can you believe it? I never thought I would miss waking up freezing at two in the morning, in the middle of January to discover that you had pulled all the covers over to your side of the bed. But I do. Now that I have them all to myself, I don't seem to be able to decide what to do with them. I wake up in the middle of the night and have to take them off because I'm too warm. Wouldn't you know it!

     How are you doing? I hope you will write me soon. Would you please put a little perfume on the letter? I miss every aspect of you, even the way you smell. I would love to be able to drink you in every time I inhaled. Also send, of course, a picture. I know it sounds foolish, but I forgot to bring one. I hated myself for it the instant I realized that I had forgotten it but I couldn't do anything about it. Send the one on the night stand, the one from our wedding. Not the one with all the bride's maids and grooms men, I don't want any distractions in the picture. Just you and me, preserved together, forever.

Other than my constant longing for you, I am doing fine. I am getting along fairly well with my colleagues and I have been reading a lot. There isn't much else to do around here. Remember how I used to tease you about reading those "trashy romance novels?" I never understood how you could get so enthralled in a book, but now I know. When I'm not writing you, I'm reading. I've only been gone a few days, and I've already read four books. Not bad for someone who hated to read before? I've even read one of those trashy romance novels that I used to harass you about. I read it because it reminds me of you. Each time I picked it up, I could picture you curling up in front of the fire with that old quilt from the couch and reading.

I need to go, it's late and I'm tired. I sleep with the hope of dreaming of you, so that, even if it isn't quite reality, we can be together. I'll write you again as soon as possible and I wait for a letter from you with much anticipation. Don't worry, my love, we'll be back together soon, I promise.

Your love for eternity,
June 14, 1998
Dear Laura,

     I dreamed of you last night. In my dream we were floating over the lake. It was as beautiful as I've ever seen it, so crisp and clear. The water that shimmered below, however, was nothing compared to the deep blue of your eyes. They seemed to be tiny lakes themselves, deeper that any submarine could ever travel. I looked into your eyes for what seemed like an eternity. Oh, I have never known such bliss as that which I experienced while gazing into your eyes. The next thing I knew, we were standing on the front porch of the cabin. You took my hand and began to lead me in, but I woke up before we could enter. I tried to fall back asleep in order to catch up with you, but I couldn't find you again.

     I was disappointed to have not received a letter from you today, but I suppose the mail can be incredibly slow and unreliable. I'm sure your letter will arrive tomorrow, maybe the next day, but I know that it will get here. I know that you must miss me as much as I miss you and I couldn't fathom why you wouldn't write me. I love you, my dear, and I wait patiently for the letters that I know you sent.

     I wish I could be with you now. I can't even begin to describe the feeling of emptiness that I have without you. It feels as if my heart has been stopped and it will not beat again until I can hold you in my arms, and feel your warm body against mine.

     I am afraid that my colleagues and I have had a disagreement of sorts. I'm not sure what I did, but they are the type to hold a grudge. I have tried to reconcile with them, but they have, for the most part, quit talking to me. Every now and then, one of them will shout an obscenity or insult, but it doesn't bother me too much. For the most part, they just leave me alone. They are acting quite childish, if you ask me, but I'm confident that by tomorrow, the ill feelings will have subsided and we'll all be getting along fine.

     Until they decide to start talking to me again, I suppose I'll use the time to write your letter and then I'll read some more. In a way, I guess I'm glad that they have left me alone. They never seem to cease their chattering and it is quite annoying to try to read while they ramble on about useless nonsense.

     I hope you are doing all right. I keep thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong, all alone out there. I'm sorry, I know how much you hate it when I worry about you, but I can't help it. I mean, what will you do if you are home and the car breaks down? It's an hour's drive to town, and a walk would take you forever. And if you called a mechanic, you would be alone, all the way out there with a strange man.

     I'm sorry for worrying over you, my love, but I would just feel better if you would go stay with your mother. Just until I get home. I couldn't bear the thought of anything happening to you, you are the most important thing in the world to me, more cherished than all that I own and I can't help but worry about you, especially when I am here, so far away from you.

     I'm afraid I must go again, I have to get some sleep. I have a very big day ahead of me tomorrow and I need to be well rested. We will be back together soon, I promise.

Your love for eternity,
June 15, 1998
Dear Laura,

     My colleagues still seem to be angry with me. They must be angrier than I thought because they continually make snide comments when they don't think I am listening. I don't even know what I did to anger them so. I've tried to ask them why they won't leave me alone, but they refuse to answer me, responding with an eerie silence. As soon as I have turned my back, though, they inevitably begin to talk about me again.

     I wish you were here, or I was there. Really, I don't care where we are as long as we're together. Even the fires of hell would be bearable if we were there together. Satan himself could do nothing to spoil our happiness. I just need you here to help me cope with the stress my colleagues are causing me. I'm so angry with them, but unable to do anything.

     Have you been watering my plants? I forgot to mention them in my last two letters. I know that you have never been very good with plants, but since I can't care for them now, you must. The amaryllis should be watered when the soil is dry. If you give it two much water then the bulb will rot and the plant will die. The rest of the plants should be watered every other day.

     Do you remember when we planted that garden out back? We spent the better part of a week digging, tilling, planting, and watering, only to lose practically everything to that bunch of ravenous rabbits. Remember the dog that we got to try to chase off the rabbits? He just dug up the garden and did even more damage than the rabbits had. By the time we got him out of there, both of us were covered from head to toe in dirt, along with the dog. I had been so angry at first, but later we laughed till we cried over the irony of it all.

     We gave up on gardening, but that dog stuck around for years. Remember how he used to jump up onto our bed and nearly knock one of us onto the floor. He was very protective of you, and he wouldn't let me touch you as long as he stood guard over us. If we wanted to make love then I had to chain him to the tree in the front yard, and we could still hear him barking and howling the entire time. That dog loved you.

     I have yet to receive a letter from you. I complained to the postman today that he must have lost my mail, but it did no good. He simply said that none had come in for me, but he would double check to make sure. I waited impatiently as he looked through his bag one more time before finally saying, "Sorry, nothing there, sir." Then he just moved on. I guess it probably isn't his fault, the letters must be getting backed up somewhere else along the delivery route. Keep writing, though, I expect them to start coming in any day now.

     We'll be back together soon, my love.

Your love for eternity,
June 16, 1998
Dear Laura,

     Why haven't you written me yet? Are you angry with me? What did I do? If you are angry that I suggested that you stay at your mothers until I get home then, I'm sorry. I know you like to be independent, and that you feel like I try to shelter you too much sometimes, but I can't help it. Without you, this world means nothing to me. I have no reason for being here if you are gone. Isn't it natural that I should want to protect someone that I love so much? I don't mean to limit your freedom, or imply that I don't trust you. I would trust you with my life!

     If you don't want to stay with your mother, then you don't have to. Even though it would help me to sleep better at night, I only want you to be happy. You know how I tend to overreact. I'm just a little paranoid about losing you, that's all. I hope that you can forgive me for being so insensitive.

     I really need your support now; my colleagues have pushed me to the breaking point. The comments are no longer behind my back, they are saying them to my face. They won't leave me alone for a minute. They keep attacking me for no reason at all. Oh, they don't actually touch me, just mock and ridicule me. The worst part is that I have no idea why they despise me so. I have never wronged any of them, as far as know.

     I managed to slip away from them for awhile today and finished a book I had been reading. It was called Old Yeller. Have you read it? It's about a family and their dog. They love their pet, but then the dog catches rabies and goes mad. They have to shoot it before it can attack anyone. I doubt you'd like it, it's a very sad story and you usually don't care for those.

     I really miss you, my love. When will I get to come home to you? Young married couples, such as ourselves, shouldn't be apart like this. Actually, I guess we really don't fit the young married couple category anymore. After all, it has been seven wonderful years, but I still feel the same joy and excitement about being married to you that I did when we first got married. I miss you more each passing day and every day seems to go by slower and slower.

     It's so stressful! Last night, I thought I had managed to escape the constant taunting form my colleagues at long last. I had finally managed to fall asleep and was enjoying a wonderful dream where you and I were in Paris! It was just like our honeymoon. Do you remember how wonderful it was? Remember that waiter at the restaurant? I still smile every time I think about how he tripped and spilled everything on his tray. And then the way he tried to apologize to us and we couldn't understand anything he was saying because neither one of us spoke very good French. That was hilarious!

     The dream didn't last long, though. We were just about to kiss when I woke up. My colleagues had discovered I was sleeping and began to yell at me again. I can't wait to be away from them and in the comfort of your arms. It won't be long, my love, before we will be together again.

Your love for eternity,
June 18, 1998
Dear Laura,

     I am terrible sorry that I didn't write you yesterday, but the harassment by my colleagues never seems to cease anymore. They haven't allowed me to sleep in two days and I am physically and mentally exhausted. Yesterday they wouldn't even leave me alone long enough for me to sit down and write a letter or read. They seem to have lost interest in bothering me for the moment, so I'm using this rare peaceful spell to write you.

     I have yet to receive a letter from you. Why is that? I know that you wouldn't just stop writing me. It's probably just the postal system. If I could just get my hands on the incompetent fool who's losing my mail! I just don't see what's so hard about delivering mail.

     You have been getting my letters, haven't you? I hadn't thought about the possibility of you not getting my letters until now. Really, I guess there is no point in worrying about it. If you are, then, of course, there is no reason to worry, and if you aren't, then it won't do any good for me to speculate in a letter that you won't be reading. So for the time being, I guess I'll just have to assume that you are getting them.

     I'm afraid I'll have to go now, my colleagues are beginning their taunting again. I don't know if I can take it much longer. They all gang up on me at once and just start yelling at me, telling me that I'm inadequate, (in much less polite terms, of course.) I can only take so much abuse before I just go off and do something drastic. I'm beginning to have trouble concentrating now so I have to end the letter.

     No matter what happens, my love, know that I love you and I always will.

Your love for eternity

I must confess that I took quite an interest in these letters. Even after my wife had ceased to care about their origins, I continued to ponder over them. I read them several more times over the next few days, each time focusing on a new question. Where had he gone? Why had she not written him back? Why was he so abused by his co-workers?

     As far as I could tell, Mathew had gone away on some sort of a business trip and his wife had stayed here. It was obvious that he loved her dearly and I couldn't think of why she wouldn't have written back. Perhaps she had gone to her mother's house after all, leaving before Mathew's first letter had been delivered. But, why then, were the letters not removed from mailbox when the couple returned home? They must have moved immediately after Mathew's trip, but why hadn't they gotten the mail from the box? And I had absolutely no idea what Mathew could have done to infuriate his colleagues so much.

     No matter how much I tried, or how much my wife told me to quite fretting over it, I just couldn't get the letters out of my mind. Then one day I ventured into the same little town where I had stopped to ask for directions, I got the answers I had been looking for, but never expected.

     I had struck up a conversation with the checkout clerk at the grocery store. She was an older woman, about my age, and recognized me as being new in the area and we began to talk. There was no one else in the store, so we had plenty of time to chat. Eventually she asked me where I was living and I told her that it was a cabin about an hour north of the town. Her jolly nature faded slightly as she said, "Oh, you mean the Parken's place."

     I looked at her with a questioning look on my face. Perhaps this woman could tell me something about the previous residences. She looked like the type who would know all the juicy tid-bits of gossip that floated around a small town like this. "I hadn't heard it referred to as the Parken's place before." I said. "Were they the last owners?"

     "You mean the realtor didn't tell you about the Parkens?" She asked, almost with a sound of disbelief in her voice.

     "No, should he have?

     "Why yes! I mean, I think that I would like to know something like that before I decided to buy a house. Absolutely horrible, and they were such a nice couple too."

     "Something like what?" I asked

     "Well, you see," she began, "just over a year ago, the couple, Mathew and Laura were their names, got into a fight. Oh, they were the nicest couple, and they had never fought before that I know of, but Mathew had been acting pretty odd lately. You see, he had lost his job writing for one of those outdoor magazines just a few months prior, and Laura had confided in some friends that he had developed somewhat of a temper and he seemed depressed a lot. She said that a few times, she had heard him arguing with someone outside, but no one was out there. The poor young thing was getting really scared.

"Anyhow, they got into this fight, I don't know what it was over, and somehow Laura fell over the guardrail of the loft. The police figured that Mathew pushed her, but they weren't sure. Personally, I don't think it was intentional. He was a sweet young man and would never have harmed her on purpose, even if he was angry. Why, he used to shovel my drive for me every winter. Have you ever been through a Maine winter?"

"No." I answered, "My wife and I just bought the cabin as a summer place. We live in Florida most of the year."

"Oh, I bet that's just wonderful!" She exclaimed, "winters here are very cold, with too much snow."

I was eager to hear the rest of the story. "Yes, I've heard that." I lied, "So, what were you saying about the Parkens?"

"Oh yes, well were was I now? Hmm, oh, well when Laura fell over the guardrail, she landed square on her head and broke her neck. Mathew called 911, but by the time they got there she was already dead.

     "And that's when poor Mathew really lost it. He started having some real problems and ended up in the mental hospital upstate. Seemed like he didn't have any recollection of Laura dying. When the doctors or the police tried to tell him what happened, he wouldn't believe it. They said that he was all messed up. He had schizophrenia, or multiple personalities, I'm not sure exactly what it was, but he kept complaining to the doctors about comrades, or colleagues something like that. He said they wouldn't stop yelling at him, the poor dear. Apparently, he was just hearing voices and no one was really yelling at him, but it was just too much for him to take. About a week after he had been put in the hospital, may God bless his soul, he hung himself with his sheets."

     She shook her head and spoke softly, mostly to herself, "Horrible, just horrible."


Acknowledgments: I would like to begin by thanking God, without whom I would not be here. I would like to thank the entire class and Terry for any useful suggestions that they may have contributed, with special thanks going to Jen, Jenna, and Jamin. I would also like to express my gratitude towards my senior English teacher, Mrs. Kissinger, for helping me to discover how much I enjoyed writing. And last but not least, I would like to that the academy and all the little people who made this possible. If you read this, your children will be born with six toes on each foot. [Hobz supplied the policeman.]

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