All Lester had to do was empty out the spare bedroom while Freda was at the store.
It seemed a simple enough task until he started pulling open drawers and picking through the closet. That’s when he realized just how much they had accumulated in their fifty years at 119 Nightrose Lane.
That was a long time to live in one house, and Lester mused that it was probably a good thing they were moving … imagine how much more detritus they’d pile up in another fifty!
As he sorted through the contents of a nightstand drawer, Lester lined out three piles on the floor — trash, donate, keep. His goal was to hold the keeper stack to a bare minimum.
He was feeling pretty good about himself, too, as he picked an empty Kleenex box from the bottom of a nightstand and tossed in onto his “trash” pile. He was done with the little dresser, and the only thing he’d kept was a Bible.
But the tissue box felt too heavy to be empty as Lester chucked it toward the floor, and it made a strange sound when it hit … flopped on its side with a light thud.
Lester cocked his head, perplexed, and retrieved the package from the floor. He shoved his hand inside the opening and pulled out a small stack of yellowed envelopes.
They were all addressed to him while he was working that construction job in California, post forwarded to 119 Nightrose. They dated to within a month of his return to Indiana, when Freda told him she was carrying Joanie.
Her visit west had got the better of them. Lester grinned at the memory.
Turning back to the letters, he saw one of them bore Freda’s old return address. Without even thinking about it, Lester slid a finger under the flap, and the ancient glue popped free. He pulled the brittle page from inside and began reading.
I’m sorry to have to tell you this in a letter, but I don’t know if I can look you in the eye and tell you that we’re finished. I just don’t see a future for us …”
The kitchen door banged closed, and then quick footstep padded down the hall.
“Lester, can you come help me with the groceries?” Freda popped her head through the bedroom door. “Don’t you have this mess cleaned up yet?”
He looked up from the letter, hand shaking.
“What’s that?” Freda asked, nodding toward the paper he held.
Lester snuffled back a tear, hoping his wife didn’t notice. He managed a weak, watery smile.
“Nothing. It’s trash.” He crumpled the page and tossed it on top of the empty Kleenex box. “Let’s get those groceries put away.”