Grey slush, wet crud, city dirt is layered, caked in my low-cut winter boots.
I arrive at the heavy glass door facing MacDougal Street that belongs to the building I reside in. A charming studio apartment, a five floor walkup where I work as a graphic designer, carry out secret fleeting affairs with discontent married men, and cook myself superb meals for less than four dollars a day.
“Hello Ms. Craft,” my magnetic mailman greets me like he often does, with a grin bright as treetop snow. When I see him, I blush, my mind rushing with the fantasy that he stars in; he eagerly approves the invite to my room, I whip him up a delightful lunch and finish it off with me as the dessert.
“Hi there Randolph. My, this weather! You must be sick of it,” my eyes catch the twinkling in his.
“Naw, you know how it is, part of the job. I try not to dwell on it Ms. Craft or I wouldn’t be here.” His hands are shuffling the chain that dangles from his waist with a metal ring of a hundred or more keys that is attached to his belt.
He quickly finds the right key, opens and holds the door for me. He asks me to wait, passing three pieces of mail that I have no interest in. After all, I wasn’t expecting payment for the illustration job I did for the noodle shop that will soon open on Prince Street. I shouldn’t receive that for another month.
“Enjoy the rest of the day Randolph. I hear that sunshine is on its way later in the week.”
He continues opening the black iron, ornate slots, stuffing good news and bad into my neighbor’s boxes. He shoots me one last smile as I open the inside door to the ground floor hallway. I close it and appreciate the tender feeling I get from seeing him.
I climb the heap of steps and distract myself while glancing at the letters, finding one worth opening. The envelope is constructed from fine quality paper. I notice there is not a return address. I get to my door and dispose of my sloppy boots on the mat.
The temperature of the room is opposite to the frigid city air. I peel off my coat and sit down at the only table, letter in hand. I struggle getting the tight fitting card out of the hand addressed envelope that turns out to be a 4x5 color print. I don’t recognize the handwriting, yet I’m familiar with the location in the photograph. How I know the setting baffles me for a few seconds.
A chill abruptly strokes my spine and the pit of my stomach turns sour.
He was the one. And at thirty three I had finally found the man I could spend the rest of my life with.
I held on to my oak table, the room slightly spinning. Panic and intuition inform me that his wife snapped the shot of the deserted newspaper, the view after I fled. After she examined my face, pale as bread flour, horrified, stricken, lost.
Kim Soles is a designer and photographer. Her designs sell at Anthropologie stores throughout the US and she exhibits her spirit nature photography, offering nature photography classes to children and adults. Kim works part time at an educational nature center, surrounded by a hundred acres of enchanting forest and meadow in the city of Philadelphia. A visual artist for many years, she recently began to use words to tell her stories. Her commitment and love for writing has taken on a content life of its own. She enjoys participating in the 6S Writers Network and spends quality time with writers in a local writing workshop.