Friday, July 1, 2011

An Unfulfilled Promise

The note was carefully folded. Once, then twice over, so that it was just a small paper square, unassuming and mysterious all at once.

The creases in the paper were so well worn that they were almost translucent, making the note appear delicate and nearly beautiful despite its grisly message. It spent most of its life in the darkness of her pocket, but she’d pulled it out and was allowing it to see light. She stressed the fragile creases once more as she unfolded the note again.

The words within it were committed to memory, but she read them anyway, as if to torture herself with their reality and weight. A flurry of activity surrounded her, but she was oblivious to it all, focused only on the note and its message.

As she had dozens of times before, she tried to read between the lines, to find any secrets hidden within the words. Her desperation was palpable. So much was riding on her being able to decipher something from this message; lives were hanging in the balance.

“Excuse me?” The voice barely penetrated her thoughts; she kept staring at the note. “Isn’t it time for your lunch?” Food? How could she possibly think of food? Did no one realize the gravity of this situation? Was she the only one who cared?

Absently, she looked up at the source of the voice. A woman, familiar, but her name escaped her. It didn’t matter. “I’m not hungry.”


Her patience was wearing thin. She felt the urge to snap at the woman. “I’m not hungry.” She repeated, dismissing any further conversation by looking back down at the note.

The words came into sharp focus. Hate my life. Giving up. Don’t care anymore. Want to die.  How could she possibly help this lost soul? How could she change the course that they were on? Her heart broke at the thought of the writer of the note, shedding tears over the words that might be their last.

“Mrs. Baldwin?” The man’s voice was powerful, demanding. She reluctantly looked up from the note. “It’s time for your lunch. You have to put that away and eat now.”

He was a very handsome man, she thought, as she stared up at him through old gray eyes. But she didn’t take orders from anyone. Not even handsome men. “Like I was telling that woman before, I’m not hungry. I just want to be left alone. Why don’t you people leave me alone? I need to read this note.”

The handsome man sighed. “Mrs. Baldwin, you’ve read the note before. Thousands of times before. It’ll be waiting for you when you’re done with your lunch. You must eat your lunch. You’ve got to keep your strength up. Your family will be visiting you later today; don’t you want to be at your best when they arrive?”

She was getting tired of fighting; she suddenly remembered that fighting was useless. They always won. Her tight grip on the note fell away, and it dropped silently to the floor. She felt the nurse grab the handles of her wheelchair, found herself being pushed away towards the dining room.

The note, forgotten, lay face up on the floor. Its words hinting at a troubled past, an unfulfilled promise.

Whoever should find this and find me, I want you to know that no one could make me happy or unhappy but myself. This is no one’s fault but my own. I hate my life. I’ve spent so many years trying, keeping up the guise of life, and now I’m giving up that guise and taking charge for once. I don’t care anymore. I just want to die.


Alayna Baldwin

This was written for The Red Dress Club's Red Writing Hood prompt: You or your character find a forgotten letter or card from someone important in your life--whether good or bad.  What does it say?  How does it affect you or your character?  What is done with it?

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