The envelope was thin. One, maybe two pages. Whatever he had written wasn’t too long. First, she turned it over and checked the back. No name, just a street address in New Jersey. She held her breath as she used her fingernail to pry it open.
Unfolding it, she saw it was dated March 1935.
Two and a half years without a reply.
She imagined him sitting an old desk, crafting the letter, somehow knowing this was the end, and she saw what she thought were tearstains on the paper. Probably just her imagination.
She straightened the page and began to read in the soft white sunlight that shone the window.
My dearest Allie,
I don’t know what to say anymore except that I couldn’t sleep last night because I knew that it is over between us. It is a different feeling for me, one that I never expected, but looking back, I suppose it couldn’t have ended awake way.
You and I were different. We came from different worlds, and yet you were the one who taught me the value of love. You showed me what it was like to care for another, and I am a better man because of it. I don’t want you to ever forget that.
I am not bitter because of what has happened. On the contrary, I am secure in knowing that what we had was real, and I am happy we were able to come together for even a short period of time. And if, in some distant place in the future, we see each other in our new lives, I will smile at you with joy, and remember how we spent a summer beneath the trees, learning from each other and growing in love. And maybe, for a brief moment, you’ll feel it too and you’ll smile back, and savor the memories we will always share together.
I love you, Allie.
She read the letter again, more slowly this time, then read it a third time before she put it back into the envelope. Once more, she imagined him writing it, and for a moment she debated reading another, but she knew she couldn’t delay any longer. Lon was waiting for her.
Her legs felt weak as she stepped out of the car. She paused and took a deep breath, and as she started across the parking lot, she realized she still wasn’t sure what she was going to say to him.
And the answer didn’t finally come until she reached the door and opened it and saw Lon standing in the lobby.