You watch the little old mailman walk across your little run-down yard, away from your house, and down the street. You just stare at the little red flag of your mailbox for a while. You've got mail, it taunts. Someone wants to talk to you. But you know no one really does. You know the mailbox will just be stuffed with junk and bills and love letters for your brother. There won't be anything for you. There never is.
You walk down the path barefoot, feeling the cracked cement beneath your feet. You like the pain. You can feel it. Pain is real. Pain is there.
The little rusted mailbox squeaks with pleasure when you open it. Someone loves me! It seems to be saying. Someone might love the stupid old mailbox, sitting crooked on its post, but no one loves you. Not really. At least that's what she said the other night, at the Big Boy. The night it all went wrong.
The mail lands on the floor of the hallway with a satisfying thud. You pick it up and throw it on the ground again for the sheer pleasure of that thud. A small white envelope flutters out of the pile. You pick it up and inspect it. Your name is written on it in a careful, childish hand. There's no return address.
Curious, you open the letter. Who could be writing you?
Dear Friend, it begins. I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn't try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have….
Charlie, you think as you make dinner on your little rusted stove. Charlie, you think as you listen to the mix tape she gave you. Charlie, you think as you lie awake in bed, missing the feeling of her beside you. Charlie, who are you?
The next day at the Big Boy you tell your friend about the letter you got from Charlie. You're hoping he might know who Charlie is. You're hoping for a reassuring "Oh that kid who killed himself last year. That kid who was hospitalized afterwards."
Instead, there's silence, followed by:
"This kid is trusting you. Don't tell me anything else. Don't betray him."
So you don't. Instead, you begin to wait for Charlie's next letter, want to reach out and help him. Many times you find your notebooks filled with scrapped responses.
Dear Charlie, I wish I could have been there, or Dear Charlie, I'm so sorry and I want to do anything I can to help you or Dear Charlie, I bet you looked fantastic in that gold bathing suit because Mary Elizabeth said you looked awesome and she doesn't seem like the kind of girl who would lie about something like that, or, most often, Dear Charlie, I wish I knew who you were.
You know that Charlie is writing you because he needs someone who cares; he needs to feel less alone. You're pretty sure that he has no idea how much his letters are doing the same thing for you. The letters have made you realize that there are people out there like you—lost, scared, and confused, but trying to live to its fullest. You know what it feels like to be a wallflower. You know what it feels like to feel infinite, but not have others to share your infinity with. Now, however, Charlie has you, and, in a way, you have Charlie.
So, what did you think? I had fun writing this piece- it's been on my mind for a while. Please let me know if you liked it as much as I did!