Dear Red

Short Stories Nov 29, 2019

The musty smell in the yellow bag of clothing, was probably leather. It lay among several other over-stuffed bags and assorted bric-a-brac strewn across the sorting floor in the op-shop. Racks of tired clothing and boxes of books in varying states of being loved were arranged shoddily around the perimeter of the walls. Despite unpacking and sorting all day, the lone volunteer still remained in good cheer. Volunteering tends to attract those types of people.

Sorting always threw up the unexpected and she’d had a few surprises during the course of the day. You expect that amongst discarded possessions. Some pleasant, others gross, some humorous. There was the odd find which raised eyebrows. Volunteers were meticulous in their searches of pockets in clothes and compartments in bags, prior to being racked, priced and resold.

The yellow plastic bag was torn open and the contents dumped on the sorting floor. As she suspected, the volunteer noticed a well-used black leather jacket. Going through the oft rehearsed checking routine, she unzipped the internal chest pocket and slid a hand inside. Sensing paper, she withdrew a small envelope containing a folded single sheet of paper. It was a letter. Despite a nagging sense of intrusion into the private thoughts of an unknown person, the volunteer read the contents of the letter.

“Dear Red,

I know you’re out there somewhere with another guy. Amongst other emotions, that image still sticks in my craw whenever I recall the times you and I had together. Twelve years of intense passion, adrenalin and release. I still choke up a little at my loss, and the pain is only minutely less acute each time.

I try to imagine how I’ll react if we ever cross paths again.  I’d love to see you, drink in your exquisite beauty, admire your curves, hear your sexy purr. But I don’t know if I could accept your new bloke. I’ve no wish to confront him, Red, but in my head you’ll always be mine. Call it obsessive if you will, Red, but I invested a lot of physical, financial and emotional capital in you, and your absence from my life has left me on the debit side of my personal ledger.

My therapist has suggested that I should write you this letter. She says I need to transition from self-pity to self-empathy before finally embracing the loss and celebrating the joy we had together during those twelve giddy years. She says that the act of writing the letter will sever my lingering affections. However, at the moment, I think she’s talking out of her butt. Seriously, do tertiary institutions teach these eggheads the language of butt-talk nowadays? I’m not ready to embrace the loss prior to any celebrations, and I feel she’s railroading me way too quickly into personal places that I’ve no wish to explore.

I’ve no intention of showing her the contents of this letter, but I’ll string her along and tell her I completed the task she suggested. She’s told me not to address it, just to place it in a postal collection box as a physical act of severance. I’ll think long and hard about that, but I promise you now… I will never forget you Red, and nobody, I repeat nobody, can ever drag me kicking and screaming into a headspace that doesn’t include you.

Perhaps you think I’m bordering on obsessive-compulsive. Maybe there’s an element of truth in that. You possibly even think that a 66 year old man should grow up a little, but seriously, you were unequivocally the best Triumph motorbike that I ever owned. I’ve never forgiven myself for trading you in, Red.

Miss you still,

David Dodd.”


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