Flash Fiction: The Mailbox
The death march to bataan otherwise known as the walk to my mailbox. It stares at me when I leave in the morning and when I return at night. I try to put it off for as long as I can but after a week, I get home and envelopes are sticking out every which way. Today I decide to wait until I get home. There’s enough fear and loathing in that God forsaken grey world of XXXX customer service department. Sorry, I’d probably get sued mentioning their name.
“You better watch your ass Bob, this economy is bad and you don’t want to lose your job for being late do you?” Simon my “supervisor” then laughed heartily and slapped me on my back with his red, plumb, damp hands. I think I was about three and a half minutes late and that was because some idiot decided to run into a brick wall embankment and held me up over 2 hours in Atlanta traffic. I hope his head fell off. I usually leave the house hoping for only an hour traffic and I go have breakfast, relax before I have to deal with those “wonderful” customers.
But here I am giving the evil eye to the unassuming wood and metal object. The wife’s home with little Will, my pride and joy. I think they are inside watching the sprout channel or something along those lines. I really don’t know anymore. All I do is sit up at night wondering how much longer we have here. I swallow the bile that had started to rise up in my throat, quiet the pounding in my head and open the the devilish mailbox. Inside all the white envelopes are blinding. They look innocent enough but they exist to cause me strife plain and simple.
I haul the mail in and sit at the kitchen table. I’ve already eaten, no need to ruin my appetite. I separate the bills from the advertisements. That’s all there is in the mail now a days, bills and advertisements. No one writing to say hello, or to send in a good word, no happy anything, just bills and advertisements. I should get a pen pal. That way we could exchange letters and I could have something to look forward to.
Back to the issue at hand. The bills pile and the advertisement pile is almost equal. I take the advertisement pile and escort it to the garbadge. I don’t want nothing anyone is selling. If I don’t have it, I don’t have it.
I go through each and enter the amount on my writing pad. $1287.40 for mortgage plus the two months I’m back equals $3862.20 plus interest and penalties. If I had a problem paying one month what makes them think I’ll be able to pay them three times as much. That was just the beginning. With light, gas, phone, internet, cable, insurance and car payment, I was down two thousand dollars. I guess we won’t be eating this month.
“Honey, can I talk to you a minute?” My dear wife Susan. We’ve been together since high school. As sweet as they come I tell you. She’s been looking for a part time job while Will is at school but she hasn’t had any luck. I don’t like the look on her face. I looks like about four hundred dollars.
“Yes” I answer.
“I noticed a leak coming into the kitchen. I called in a plumber and he said it’s the shower pan from the upstairs bathroom leaking into the kitchen. I asked for an estimate and he said it would be $1,190.00 to fix and replace it but we would have to buy the tiles to be replaced.” She winced as she said one thousand one hundred and ninety dollars.
Well that just figures. “But it’s okay sweetie, we’ll figure something out. Maybe I can ask my parents to lend us some money” said Susan.
“That won’t be necessary.”If I was going down, I would not go begging while I do it. “I’ll take care of it. I’m going to take a shower. I’m tired.”
The shower felt good. The hot scalding water turned my skin red. I looked like a hot dog wrapped in my terry cloth bath robe. At least that gave me a little chuckle. Sinking into our ten year old mattress felt great. The coldness of the sheet against my feet was refreshing. That way I could rub my feet together to get warm and really sink into the fluffy comforter.
Settling in took a few minutes so I decided to watch a little t.v before I retired. I reach for the remote, go to bring it back to me but instead of a remote on my lap, a tall glass of ice cold soda crashed on to me, the comforter and the sheets. That did it.
“SUSAN!!!” I yelled her name until she came scurrying with a bewildered look on her face.
“What is it honey, what happened?”
“What is the matter with you?…. Huh?..” I saw she didn’t understand what I was talking about.
“I come home I do everything for you you you. I could have had a boat. You know I’ve always wanted a boat. But instead I’m stuck here picking sh^% with the chickens because of you.”
She still didn’t understand.
“What the f*%^ is that glass doing on the counter? ….If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have spilled it on myself. Clean this up NOW!”
Now it came to her. The wrench.
“For Me?” Susan asked incredulously! “How dare you Bob? How dare you?”
“How about some appreciation?” Then the tears came. “How about you ask me how I’m doing. What, you don’t think I feel it too. Don’t you think my heart breaks every step you take to that mailbox? What, do you think you are the only one stressed out.”
Now that never occurred to me. I work hard to shelter Susan from our financial issues but apparently I failed at that too.
“What are you talking about, you know nothing. Just clean this up so I can go to bed.”
“Clean it yourself. I’m leaving, better yet we’re leaving. I don’t need this Bob, I really don’t.” Susan turned to leave but I stopped her. They were the only thing I had left. They were the last light of my life. I reached for her and stopped any more progress away from me.
“I’m sorry Mary Sue.” That’s the name I had for her when the getting was good and we were new and things were exciting. “I’m just so overwhelmed right now. I don’t know what we are gonna do. I feel like the bank is going to come and take the house any second. I’m running on empty Sue. I’m running with no where to go and no end in sight.”
“Listen Bobo” That was Susan’s pet name for me. “We’ll be alright. I promise.”
“You promise” I ask. “How can you be so sure.”
“Because we love each other and that means something. They can’t break us Bobo. But you have to give me some of your burden. You can’t carry it all by yourself. I’m not a squid. I am strong, you are strong but together we are invincible.” Said my Mary Sue with a tear and a smile.
“I’ll try my Mary Sue, I’ll try.