A Mysterious Request

You receive a letter at your workplace from a high school classmate, who is now in prison. “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” the letter says, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.”

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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266 thoughts on “A Mysterious Request

  1. mokingjay

    I was sitting in the back yard one fine summer morning, listening to the birds and humming to myself. I could feel the sun baking my skin, and for a moment, I was in heaven. But it was just a moment, and as usual, i was interrupted; this time by the sound of my name.
    “Maggie, you have a letter!” My brother Jake was on top of me before I could sit up, waving the envelope in front of my face laughing. “I bet it’s from a boy.”
    “Shut up, you twerp!” I said snatching it from him. I was not happy at being disturbed, but also intrigued. I never got letters.
    I opened the envelope and out falls a curious looking coin, about the size of my palm, I place it beside be and began to read the unfamiliar handwriting.

    Dear Maggie,
    I know that you don’t know me well, and that I have caused you great grief. But please, do not think this is yet another plea for forgiveness. To be honest, I need something, and you are the only person I know will get it for me. I am in trouble, and I beg you to prove that you are braver than I was and to not desert me, like I did you. If you can help me I will be forever in your gratitude.
    Here is what to do: Go to Marilyn Park sometime between 4 and 9 Saturday, and make your way to the small Memorial Museum. Go in through the back door. There should be a small man in a large coat sitting at a desk, apparently asleep. Go up to him and rink the small bell on the table. Then hand him the coin I have given you and tall him that I sent you. He will know what to do. It may seem strange but trust him.
    When you have collected the…object…drop it off at my back door that night. Do not ring a bell or knock, just leave it by the back door. You cannot know how important this is.


  2. Vendetta

    The wrinkled, ripped, and taped envelope sat benignly on my desk. The return name and address clearly written in his block handwriting. I had pushed him so far into the back of my mind, a flood of memories and emotions well up inside me. Amazing how this happens just at the sight of a name.
    My day is lost, spent shuffling memo’s and papers arbitrarily keeping myself from opening the letter for fear of it’s contents. Maybe its some sort of 12 step program, apologizing to me for all the agony and pain he caused my family and I. Maybe it’s a taunt. What has he done to deserve the courtesy of reading whatever gesture this may be?
    High school seemed so long ago even though the incident and all the horrible memories seemed so close. I can’t fight it anymore, when I get to the car I fumble with the envelope finding the composure to read the letter and get answers to all my questions.

    Dear Ethan,
    To say the least, I have caused you a lot of grief. There is something that I need. Something only you can get for me. Your sisters forgiveness. Please try.


    The letter has left more questions than answers I think to myself, folding the letter and placing it back into the envelope. I take a deep breathe, emotions continue to flood. I put the car in drive and pull out of my parking spot. This is one of those drives, the one where you’re driving but you don’t even recall doing it, because your thoughts are so tied up in the days events.
    I step out of the car and the door gently shuts behind me as I approach her. A single tear escapes when I place the envelope on her grave stone, I fight as hard as I can to keep the rest down. Walking away from the gravestone a lone dove sits on the hood of my car and as it angrily craps a stream of poop all over the newly detailed paint. I laugh hysterically wiping away the remaining tears, I know I have my answer.

  3. mshoward

    “Hey, how are you this evening?”
    “Great it was a beautiful day, just thought I would come in to finish some work early.” He said with a smile “What cha got for me?” he said excited
    “Well, I got a few magazines some proposals and this” she said as she held up an envelope addressed from the state prison system
    “You have a family member in prison?” She was curious
    A look of despair fell across his face and a sudden overwhelming fear overcame his body. “Boss, are you ok? You don’t look so good!” she became worried with his sudden change of demeanor.
    “Um, I’m fine” he stammered “just leave it on my desk, Thanks that’ll be all” he dismissed her
    “Ok let me know if you need anything else” she offered
    He nodded in agreement
    He studied the envelope, unsure if he wanted to open it. It didn’t have an inmate name on it but he knew who it was from. He flipped the envelope over and slowly tore the seal; he took a deep breath and began to read:
    Old friend,
    How’s it going? Haven’t heard from you in a while, especially since that night. I’ve thought about coming to find you to make sure you didn’t talk but as time went on I realized you were to scared to lose the precious life that you have built, you would never squeal because you knew you’d go down with me. I was all about forgetting what happened until recently. I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief, but there is something I need that only you can do for me. Now don’t tell anyone about this or you will lose everything you have. I know that you work as a bank manager, I will be released in a few days and I’m going to need some money to flee the country and move some things around. I know a guy who can set up an off shore account I need you to deliver $200,000 to him by 10pm on August 20th. Don’t try to get smart and call the police, if you know what’s good for you! You will meet at the old city bar he’ll be wearing a black biker jacket with a dragon tattoo on his hand. Don’t be late the clock is ticking.
    He looked around his office in fear and then up at the clock it was almost 4:30.
    “Where the hell am I going to get $200,000?” he panicked
    He pondered whether or not the threat was real, deciding he didn’t want to take that chance he took the keys to the safety deposit boxes and headed for the vault.

  4. Tye_Banks_Myers

    Sorry my writing is so rough. I haven’t written anything in about 10 years after a self-imposed sabbatical and I am trying to get back into it. Please be kind with your critiques but honest as well. Thanks!

  5. Tye_Banks_Myers

    After reading the first paragraph of the letter, I growled in outrage and crumpled the page in my fist. “How dare she?!” I raged as I replayed the opening paragraph of the letter in my head. Michelle had a lot of nerve to put pen to paper to ask me for anything, especially after everything I went through in the past ten years. I sat heavily down on the edge of the small cot at the halfway house where I had lived for the past six months since I had been released from prison. The paper felt sharp and hot in my hand and seemed to pulse with the urgency of Michelle’s words scrawled on it. I reluctantly straightened out the paper with shaking hands and picked up reading where she I left off.
    “I know you probably hate me and I can’t say I blame you. I didn’t mean for everything to go down the way it did. I had no idea that the police would arrest you. I guess the fact that we look so much alike, a fact that we used to pride ourselves on in high school, proved to be your downfall. The guilt I have lived with since you have been inside is almost more than I could bear. I don’t know why you didn’t fight harder to tell your truth. I don’t regret what I did and I guess I have another 20 years in this hell hole to think about my actions but I need you to finish this…”
    Hot tears fell from my eyes as I finished the letter and I folded it delicately into a neat triangle, just like Michelle and I used to do in high school when we would pass notes in class. I will never forget the day when she read the note I had passed her in algebra class, revealing my awful secret. Michelle was always protective of me and when she read my note she turned around in her seat to look at me in horror. Helpless and ashamed tears filled my eyes as I held my best friend’s gaze. “Tonight.” she said with finality.
    Now here I am, ten years later, doing my best friend’s bidding. Michelle never left anything undone. Once she sets her mind to something, she completes it. That’s what friends are for. I walked into the building she had described in the letter and was assaulted with the aroma of fresh urine and Pine-Sol. I walked quickly past the preoccupied front desk attendant and searched for room 212. I glanced into the open doorways that I passed and saw people in different kinds of stages of recuperation. I pulled my jacket closer around me against the chill of the air-conditioned air and pulled the hood of my jacket over my head. I reached into my pocket and rested my hand on the metallic heaviness there. I looked up and room 212 was in front of me. I stood in the doorway and gazed at the familiar form, lying in the bed, hooked to tubes and machines, severely disfigured from an earlier attempt. I pulled out my gun, aimed at the figure and pulled the trigger, proving my loyalty Michelle. After all, best friends are forever.

  6. Joshua Alexander

    I held the paper with contempt. The verbiage, the voice, everything about this letter disgusted me. A confession, a request; what he wanted more than anything was absolution. He began by admitting his fault, followed by an apology. He then had the audacity to follow up his apology with a list of excuses and asked that I accept his apology regardless.

    Take an opportunity to make amends and then ruin it.

    I imagined I was addressing him. Come humbly, I thought, and you’d get what you want; come to me with entitlement and get this instead. I crumpled up the letter and threw it in the fireplace, allowing the flames to embody my anger and consume his words.

  7. Birdee0809


    My cat’s yowling and incessant twirling around my ankles was forgotten and I stared at the letter in my hands as if my intense gaze upon it was enough to force further explanation from the paper. Not seeing any activity that signified a meal was forthcoming; my cat reared up and attempted to crawl up my leg.

    “Ouch! Alright, I’m getting it,” I said, surprised at the shaky sound of my voice.

    I busied myself in my home office for the rest of the evening, occasionally throwing quick glances toward the kitchen counter where I’d left the letter. How did he know? That was so long ago and I was so careful.

    Paul Hunsaker was the most popular boy in high school. He was tall with dark hair, blue eyes and a winning smile. Anyone lucky enough to be the object of his attention came away from the encounter with a swaggering walk and puff of pride, or a crimson blush and a dreamy look in their eyes. He was nice to me once. Once.

    For me this was yet another in a long line of schools with unfriendly faces. My parents were wanderers and it was not unusual for me to come home to find us packed. As much as I tried not to be noticed, I was the quiet chubby kid. Every school has one, the kid that gets all A’s and can’t do a pull up. I don’t remember what Paul and I spoke about but I remember smiling. Any hopes of having a friend were dashed the next day, however, when he stood, the jewel in the center of the puffed and blushing, laughing at me.

    “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” he wrote in the letter, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.” The letter went on to tell me something of his life, the highs, the lows and the circumstances that landed him in prison, among other things.

    I went to the bedroom and opened my jewelry box. I reached inside and took out the little silver charm. Now tarnished, it was bright and shiny when I stole it out of his locker that early morning all those years ago. He had been beside himself when it went missing, repeatedly asking the students, including me, if they had seen it.

    I wrapped the charm in tissue paper and carefully placed it in a small box. I addressed it to someone in California as Paul had asked then I stood and looked at it for a long while, trying to figure out why I didn’t want to let it go.

    I breathed a sigh of relief once I made my decision and I took the little package and tucked it into the corner of my jewelry box. Although he said a lot of things in his letter, “I’m sorry” wasn’t one of them.

      1. Birdee0809

        Thanks for your comments!

        She did it because she was tired of always being hurt by other kids for being new, for being different. When he was nice to her, for the first time she saw a side of people she didn’t know existed, a nice side. She saw the possibility of having a friend and then he took that away.

        Besides the part about him being in prison and stealing from the locker, the story of the quiet chubby kid and wandering parents is actually true. I was that kid. He was a real person (although I did change the name), he was nice to me once and once only. I never stole from him and didn’t have his locker combination but I used to shove notes through the slots in his locker. Odd notes that made no sense and that was exactly their purpose. It drove him crazy and he had a good idea it was me but could never catch me doing it. I suppose that’s how the Paul in the story knew my character had the charm.

        Have a great night everybody.