Boxes, special boxes, lie at the bottom of my locked filing cabinet. Deposited there are letters and cards collected throughout my life. From grandparents, school friends, parents, lovers, wives, children, more lovers, more children… Since the invention of e-mail though, they’ve been few and far between.
Tonight it’s New Year’s Eve 2026 and there’s a very special box of letters I want to look at. But first, there’s something I have to do – The Ritual.
I go to my trusted computer and start. I’m alone in the house. My partner, Suzanne is at her parents, the kids are grown up, probably remonstrating with their own kids about coming home at a ‘sensible’ hour. As if!
I begin to type. Dear – . I leave the name blank for now, anticipating the thrill of typing it in. ‘I hope you are well and I wonder how this will find you. You were talking about moving to a villa in Portugal. Are you still planning to live there? Did you marry Fiona? Is your mother still alive?’ Questions surge into my mind.
I take a swig of cider, Weston’s Vintage Cider 2025, 8.2% alcohol. Three bottles for a fiver at Tesco, the same as it’s been for the last ten years! I swill the amber liquid around my tongue and savour grass, twigs, toffee, leaves, and moonlit apples.
For the next two hours, I sit writing and drinking cider. About what I’ve been doing myself for the last year, my failing health, my increasing wealth and my disastrous love life. Then about my goals and aspirations. Maybe they’ll be interested? Do that trek up Kilimanjaro, play a recital on the piano, and maybe get that novel published. The one that’s been rejected more times than I care to think about. But hey! What about Stephen King, Agatha Christie and J K Rowling?
Finally, it’s finished. 11.30 p.m., half an hour before ‘witching hour.’ How pleased I am to sit ‘in here’, writing, rather than ‘out there’, getting ‘wrecked’ and singing Auld Lang Syne with strangers!
I fill in the recipient, print my letter, sign and address it, and then seal it up with tape. Finally, I delete the document and empty the trash folder. That completes the ritual!
I go down to the fridge and take out a bottle of Chardonnay. I pour a large glassful of lemon-coloured nectar, then go back upstairs to my ‘special box’. It contains ten long, white, thick envelopes, all with the same handwriting. I slot the one I have just written in at the back and take out the one at the front. It’s dated 2016, and labelled ‘to be opened 31st December 2026’.
The cycle is finally complete! I open it, trembling with anticipation. I begin to read, my eyes misting as I do so. Throughout the last ten long, eventful years, of life, death, joy and heartbreak, it has been waiting patiently in this box for me, though I now have no memory of ever having written it.
Please note: This post was copied and republished on New Year’s Eve 2017/2018. If you’d like to read the preamble and/or the comments please click HERE.
Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories
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