Okay, so last year I wrote a book. It’s not a long book, it might not even be a good book, but I like it so I thought I’d share the first little bit in honour of national novel writing month (nanowrimo). If you like it I can post more of it…
(Sorry for the lack of pictures this post, maybe next time!)
Marty Abrams lived at one hundred and twenty-eight Terregles Avenue in a large semi detached house with a pristine white door. Not even a letterbox interfered with the line and colour of it. It was perfect but no one ever noticed. Inside the house the hall was equally pristine, the slight smell of bleach and air freshener filled the air, the sort of smell that was almost unnaturally clean. The hallway was white without a single mark marred the walls. But there was a red door that would have drawn the eye of any visitor instantly, had there ever been any. Equally perfect but in the exact middle of it there was a large black letterbox.
Behind the door the room was filled with letters, floor to ceiling, boxes and boxes of them. Every one undelivered and every one unopened. Marty had been a postman since leaving school at sixteen; he retired at seventy-five, died at seventy-six. By the look of the room it seemed like he had never even delivered a single letter.
In a note left to his grandson Marty revealed that every day he took one letter from his bag and put it away. Marty had suffered with obsessive-compulsive disorder and didn’t know why he stole the letters but he couldn’t stop himself. Every day at exactly eleven twenty-three the letter at the top of his bag was swiftly pocketed like nothing had ever happened.
Along with the letters stood Sandy, his grandson. At birth Sandy Abrams lost his mother, at eleven he lost his father, at twenty he lost his grandmother and now, at twenty-five, he had lost his Grandfather. No cousins and no siblings meant that he was all alone. No family and few friends.
To see Marty’s funeral scene was to watch depression personified. Sandy had stood graveside, alone apart from the minister who quietly read from the bible. Sandy wasn’t even Christian. That summed up Sandy’s life, standing alone not realizing that he had been left behind.
Without many friends Sandy had excelled at school while his class mates got high in the park round the back of the playing fields. When those classmates got girlfriends Sandy got good grades and university acceptance letters. He had studied English at the university of Glasgow where he made some way to catching up with his peers.
He had read every book that they studied already so found himself with a lack of work. Without academics he was at a loose end and as a by-product developed a slight social life. He met a girl, Tracy, and he loved her. But in true Sandy fashion he lost her too and with her he lost his friends who for some reason all took her side in the breakup. In fact, it wasn’t so much that they took her side; they hadn’t ever been Sandy’s in the first place.
He was left with a couple of good friends but he hadn’t spoken to them in years. And now he had been left this, a room filled with unread letters in a house that was now his. There were comfortable chairs, a toaster and a kettle. And so Sandy decided to sit down to mourn his Grandfather in his own way, indulging his granddads eccentricities just as he had dome while he was alive.
The first letter his hand came too was relatively recent having only been stashed away by Marty during his last year on the job. The red envelope was addressed to a man only a few streets over. The address on the envelope prompted the realization that this was a treasure trove to the lives of those around him.
For so long Sandy had felt like he was on the outside, quietly watching but never really participating fully. These letters were his chance to live vicariously through his neighbors and maybe even help.
Moving from the letter room to the red armchair in the sitting room Sandy fetched a cup of tea and some slippers to read the first letter. He looked so much like his grandfather in that moment that had he caught sight of himself in a mirror he probably would have recocnised the man in the chair as Marty.
There was a letter opener on the side table, which Sandy slipped under the envelope to slice it open. The letter was written on pearl white paper with floral decorations in the corners. A slight scent of perfume followed it out of the envelope. Before even opening it he could tell it was a love letter.
It seemed to have been sealed with a kiss because there was a hint of pink lipstick underneath where the letter had been signed. Sandy inhaled deeply silently wishing that the perfume was for his benefit.
I know we haven’t talked in a long time and you are probably still mad at me for what I did and I understand that but I am truly sorry. You need to understand that I was lonely, you had been working so much and Clint was there for me. He cooked for me when you were out of town and he made me feel loved when you didn’t. I never slept with him and we only kissed once but it was an emotional affair.
I don’t want to loose you please take me back. I miss the feeling of your breath on the back of my neck before I fall asleep. I miss your lips against mine. I miss your laughter; nothing makes me smile like you do.
I messed up but I want to spend the rest of my life making it up to you. I found the engagement ring in your jacket pocket the week before you ended things. I know deep down you still love me and I love you more than ever.
Please come home Mark, I’ll say yes
All my love forever and always Lilly
Sandy read the letter three times before he understood the repercussions of what his grandfather had been doing for so many years. He hadn’t just stolen peoples words he had robbed them of their lives. Or at least the paths they could have taken. The letter room was filled and although most would just be birthday and Christmas cards that were probably never really missed there must be hundreds just like this one. Hundreds of lives that could have been but probably never were because of Marty and his illness.
Sandy remembered the first time he had noticed something strange about his grandfather. He was six and had come inside from playing and sat down to dinner without washing his hands, Marty had hit the roof. He dragged him through to the kitchen stood him on a chair by the sink so he could reach and made sandy wash his hands more than fifty times until he got it exactly right.
This took and especially long time because to demonstrate Marty had to clean under his nails with the brush, six strokes per finger, then use soap on his palms, then rinse, then use yet more soap for in-between his fingers, then rinse, then finally run his hands under scalding hot water for a minute exactly. One stroke too many or too few with the brush and the whole process had to start again. With every second off a minute Marty swore and started over again and Sandy was expected to wash his own hands in the exact same way.
He could still feel the burning of the hot water on the tips of his fingers when he thought about it. There were other little things, like how Marty never left a room without tapping the top of the doorframe three times or how he could never blow out a candle but had to let it burn out in front of him. Sandy had still never blown out the candles on his birthday cake, they were always candles but they were never lit. His grandfather had never been normal but Sandy had loved him dearly all the same.
Sinking back into the comfortable wings of the armchair Sandy sighed remembering the eccentricities of his grandfather and a single tear dropped onto the letter he held to his chest. He cried for his own sake and he cried for Lilly. He had never known love like hers but her words struck a chord with him.
Sandy felt responsible; before Marty took him in he had been seeing a psychiatrist and had been getting better. But with the extra expense of having a child in the house Marty couldn’t afford the sessions anymore. Maybe he would have got better if it hadn’t been for that.
These sorts of thoughts are never healthy but were often entertained by Sandy. It was a common occurrence for Sandy to drift away in his own thoughts asking “what if?” What if his parents were still alive? What if he had someone to love? What if Marty had been a normal granddad? He shook his head vigorously to rid his mind of the worries that plagued it and turned his thoughts back to the letter. Should he open more or find out the story behind this one?
In the end he settled on solving one problem at a time. He had a look at the envelope to check the address and found that it should have been delivered to a street about ten minutes drive from Marty’s, now his, house.
On the drive over in the old Ford Fiesta Sandy smiled at his grandfathers last gifts to him. For all his faults Marty’s main redeeming feature was his skill with money. He had a skill that no longer exists today. A relentless frugal and ingenious nature, he could make a penny pay for a pound and a pound pay for two.
Right now in the kitchen at one hundred and twenty-eight there were several coat hangers with pegs attached that Marty had used to hold up used Clingfilm so that he could wipe and re-use it. At the bottom of the garden there was a home made wind turbine on top of the garden shed which had been wired up to a convection heater and lamp in the shed so Sandy had a place to study away from everyone where no one could bother him.
Ideas like these and a refusal to spend a single penny more than was absolutely needed had left Sandy with a small fortune. With no other relatives it was all his. The lawyer who had dealt with the will had estimated Marty’s total worth including all his possessions, the car he was driving and the house he lived in included, at just under a three hundred thousand pounds.
Enough money, in other words, for Sandy to take as much time as he wanted fixing some of Marty’s indiscretions and then maybe have a little holiday before using his degree to find himself a job. He had been offered a job as a postman on several occasions by friends of Marty’s from work but he never took the offers seriously.
His passion for books made him think that he could be a writer, but the only thing he had ever had any real talent for was poetry and there was no real money in that. But he would cross that bridge when he came to it for now he had the letters to concentrate on.
If you have any thoughts or want to read more, comment below!