The Apology

Gregory Gadow
2011-04-11

This story is the result of a challenge in the LiveJournal group writers-guild. The person posing the challenge described a small thank you type of note she found under some leaf-litter while out for a walk in early April where the only text still legible was the closing: “With love, Ann -- Tell Jean I’m sorry.” The challenge was to give this note a context.

My breath caught as I recognized the handwriting on the envelope. What remained after everything that had already been said, at length, in loud voices?

Morbid curiosity prompted me to open it as I walked home from the post office. I took out a small, bright pink card decorated with rusty brown stripes and polka-dots. It was the sort of stationary an indulgent parent might buy for a little girl, and it oozed the mock innocence she loved so well. I almost put it in my pocket unread, thinking I can't right now; not yet. But it was already in my hand, and before I realized it the card lay open.

The text was brief, thanking me for my work and expressing regret that I had left the project. There was nothing about why I was gone, though; no mention of the tragic way she had used us.

I slowed down as I read, finally stopping beneath the winter skeleton of an elm tree. Her friendly lack of empathy - as if everything were still alright! - brought up memories I wanted to forget. Then I came to the end: “With love, Ann -- Tell Jean I'm sorry.”

I looked up through the bare limbs for a long time, not really caring if it was tears or the gentle drizzle that dampened my face. My arm dropped and the bright, cheery card slipped from my fingers to lay with the summer's mouldering remains.

Jean, I'm sorry.