A Way Out - Your Story 60 Finalist

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A Way Out - Your Story 60 Finalist

Postby TiffanyLuckey » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:08 pm

A Way Out

Walter Truman trudged to the mailbox on that mild April morning, the sun peeking over the end of the street, warming his weathered skin beneath the flannel of a grimy bathrobe. He blinked, the wrinkles around his eyes creasing as he squinted into the morning light, an animal emerging from hibernation.

He hadn’t expected it to be so warm already.

A mound of soggy newspapers lay forlorn at the foot of the mailbox, a monument to his lengthy hermitic existence. Walter grunted, scrubbing a hand over his sandpaper chin as he surveyed the letterbox, its hinge hanging loose, envelopes spilling out like a postman’s cornucopia. He cringed, a sudden urge welling within his chest to go back inside, back to the familiar tattered quilt draped over the living room recliner, still warm from where he’d been sitting.

Walter had been avoiding opening the mail, for he knew that crammed inside the domed canister were unpaid bills, unread letters, unspoken sympathies. Taking a rattling breath, he reached for the envelopes, then clutched them against his chest and scuttled back inside.

In the dimly lit kitchen, Walter emptied his arms of the mail, dropping the envelopes onto the table, sending them scattering across its surface and sliding onto the cracked linoleum in the obscure light of the curtained windows. Then he sank onto the metal stool in the corner of the kitchen and studied the wrinkled hands clasped in his lap.

She would want me to read the cards, Walter thought mournfully. She would want him to display them, propped open across the top of the floor model television, the gentle words of the sender reminding him of their 52 years together.

It was too painful. He couldn’t do it. Instead, Walter pressed a hand to his chest and exhaled, slowly turning toward the pile of mail, allowing his eyes to search for the familiar envelope he knew would be there, waiting for him, just like every time before.
Instantly, he recognized it, catching sight of one corner of its gray envelope beneath the mound. Walter slowly reached it, carefully broke the seal and removed its contents. Swiping one hand across the table to make room, he ceremoniously unfolded the creased paper and began reading:

Dear Mr. Truman,
We begin by extending our condolences to you in the loss of your wife. Her life and the impact she made on yours cannot be replaced. We offer our sympathies during this time of grieving.
However, as you are aware, it is time once again to proceed to your next life. Please read the following instructions carefully and implement each task in order to make a successful transition:

Step 1: Pack lightly. Take only what is essential for survival. You will not need the things you cherish now when you return to life as a 25-year-old man.
Step 2: Tie up loose ends. Remove evidence of your former life and prepare a clean slate. You will vanish.
Step 3: Locate the nearest travel portal by using the map below. Step through.

As Walter finished reading the letter—the one he’d read so many times before that he’d memorized every word—he almost missed the small print at the bottom, a statement that had never been included in the previous sets of instructions in years past: An option. A way out:

However, if you find this life to be satisfactory and you do not wish to proceed to the next, you will no longer be required to do so. This is your one chance. If you do not wish to renew your life and start over fresh, do not step through the portal tomorrow morning. But be aware of the consequences of your decision.

Walter opened his mouth, sticky and dry as cotton. He could choose to walk through that portal and start over, begin again as a young man, full of hopes and dreams for the future. He could leave behind this hard life, now full of pain and sorrow.

He let his eyes linger on the pile of sympathy cards, the memory surfacing of her smile over the heads of the children playing in the backyard. But this time is different, he thought. This time there are grandchildren.

With stiff limbs, Walter carefully folded the letter and returned it to its envelope. Then he stood, repositioned the stool to its place in the corner of the kitchen and threw open the curtains.

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Re: A Way Out - Your Story 60 Finalist

Postby LynetteTucker2014 » Sat Oct 18, 2014 10:56 am

loved this.

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Re: A Way Out - Your Story 60 Finalist

Postby Henny » Mon Oct 27, 2014 11:08 am

Enjoyed your story. Very intriguing.

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Re: A Way Out - Your Story 60 Finalist

Postby addseo1115 » Thu May 21, 2015 4:32 am

really enjoyed too.
Thanks for posting the great story here.

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Re: A Way Out - Your Story 60 Finalist

Postby happybelly » Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:26 am

Love the ending. Perfect example of "show, don't tell."

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