Dear Jonathan,

This is weird for me and for you probably. I’ve never written you a letter before but I couldn’t send an email or text-you’d read it too soon. I didn’t want to throw off your workday.

By the time you read this you’ll be home from work. You’ll have set your computer bag on the coffee table, the cats will be circling it, smelling the outside smells, as if they’ve never seen the bag before. You’ll have gone into the bedroom, frowned at the pile of clothes on my side of the room, sighed at the assorted makeup and bobby pins strewn on the dresser, and finally you’ll have changed into your sweatpants, throwing your button-down and khakis into the hamper, placing your belt and shoes gently in the correct place in the closet.

Everything you do is so precise and sometimes it drives me crazy. Sometimes I want you to place something out of order just once, throw your shirt on the floor or leave your shoes in the living room. I’m not really sure why. Other times I don’t mind because I love everything about you those days, love the way you care about the small details and how you always try to do the right thing. Which says more about me than about you probably, my varying interpretations and feelings about everyday life.

Anyway you’ll have taken care of your work clothes, and you’ll have fed the cats. It’s cold today so you’ll have started the tea kettle boiling, and then you’ll turn to the fridge and find this letter taped on the front, below the picture of my sister’s three chubby, smiling kids sitting in front of the Christmas tree. Above the picture of us on our anniversary trip to Aruba (we look good in that picture). It’s all so familiar I could explode. But some days it’s so familiar that I feel comforted, like when I wear your old, time-softened hoodie, the one I wear when I’m sad or sick or just in need of something comforting.

Anyway by the time you read this you’ll be nervous, partly from the confusing disruption of routine, but mostly because you’ll expect the worst. Please don’t worry, although I know you will. I think I’ll be fine tomorrow.

I just have to drive somewhere, kind of aimlessly anywhere would have worked, but I picked a destination so I wouldn’t feel like I was wasting gas. By the time you ate lunch today, I’ll have been halfway to the beach, the one we always go to when we want to leave the city on hot summer weekends. I just needed to clear my head, get some perspective, what I really mean is that I’m restless. I need some type of spiritual experience, or catharsis, some emotional recharge to help me be able to keep living regular life well.

As you read this I’ll be walking on the beach with the autumn chill breeze blowing in my hair, engulfed in your old hoodie that smells like you (you probably already noticed I stole it from your drawer, sorry). I’ll be trying to learn how to pray again, the way we used to, to feel something bigger than my own malaise and emptiness.

Please don’t follow me, I need to do this alone. I turned my phone off too which I know you’ll hate. I’ll stay the night at Laura’s beach house (she gave me a key), and I’ll probably be back tomorrow or the next day.

Try not to take this personally, although I know it’s almost impossible. I probably would. You’re a wonderful human being, but I have some growing up to do. I know I seem tough, but I’m crumbling underneath most days. I think this will help.

I made your lunch for tomorrow, as a peace offering, probably also out of guilt. I tried to make it the way you like it.

By the time you read this I’ll be on my way towards feeling normal, towards becoming the person you think I am, and the person I’ve wanted to be. I’m nervously optimistic about this.

Love always (really I mean it).

17 thoughts on “By the Time You Read This – Fiction

  1. I feel that way sometimes too. I wish I had a beach house to escape to. Although it would be really cold right now. So maybe not. Unless it had a fireplace.

    It’s good that you have a relationship like that…


  2. I just love this. The detail, the acknowledgement of need and want and responsibility–a real relationship and such familiarity, such complexity of emotion. (The degree to which I enjoyed this is reflected in my inability to be coherent in commenting.)

    Liked by 1 person

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