Parcel of Affection
After studying the living room one last time, Caitlin gave a big sigh of relief. Finally, the beach house was decorated the way she wanted it. Her grandparents, now deceased, would approve of her creative flair for design. Each room had a nautical theme of colorful seashells and ocean treasures, accented with pastel-shaded walls. Within minutes of the Anna Maria Island beach in Florida, she spent most of her days by the ocean, writing on her laptop computer.
As a beginning freelance writer from New York, it was a complete change for Caitlin. Her days were flexible and carefree here. She could make her own schedule and not work under short deadlines. It was also the time in her life to find a career which revealed her creativity more fully. Though she was still unsure where her writing career would take her, at thirty-three, she knew that she had to follow her long-lost passion before it was too late.
One morning before heading off to the beach, Caitlin decided to plant flowers in her garden. The weather was in the mid-eighties so it wasn’t too hot to work outdoors. While she was leaning over with her hands in the soil, she heard a masculine voice and footsteps approaching. “Good morning Miss. I have a few parcels to deliver to you,” said a friendly tone. Startled at first, she quickly turned around and stood up. Wiping her soiled hands on her pant leg, she retrieved them from the man's hand. Tall, slightly built with medium brown hair, he smiled at her as he handed her several large envelopes.
He looked around Caitlin’s age or a bit older. They stared at one another for a moment before speaking.
“Thank you so much,” she said with a coy smile.
“You're welcome, miss,”
“Oh, you can call me Caitlin.”
“Nice to meet you, Caitlin. I’m Nick Kramer. You’ll be seeing me around regularly,” he said with a jubilant grin. “You must be new in Anna Maria. I haven’t seen you before.”
Caitlin smiled back. “Yes, I am. My grandparents used to live here before they passed away. This house was given to me as an inheritance.”
“That's certainly a special gift. I knew your grandparents quite well. They were such friendly and caring people.”
“Yes, they were. I miss them very much.”
“Likewise...Well, maybe I'll see you again tomorrow. Have a nice day.” He gave a friendly wave. With a smile she waved back, thinking what a nice man he was. After an hour of gardening, she washed up and headed down to the beach.
Reading through several rejection letters with returned manuscripts, Caitlin began to feel discouraged. She started thinking maybe she was just kidding herself about becoming a successful writer. Each day, Nick came by to deliver the mail, carrying several large envelopes in his hand. She always dreaded opening them, knowing what to expect. One morning, while Nick was on his mail route, he commented on the envelopes.
“You must be a writer because you receive several publisher envelopes a day. Are you getting many offers to promote your work?” he asked with an inquisitive, curious smile. Looking away, embarrassed, she hesitated.
“Not yet, but there’s always tomorrow.” After saying it like that, she made herself feel better.
“Well, that’s a good attitude to have. I admire your courage to venture off into the unknown.”
“Thank you. I’ll let you know when my first book is published.”
They both laughed, then said goodbye.
As the weeks passed by, Nick continued delivering Caitlin’s mail and inquiring about her writing. She told him that she was beginning to receive less rejections and more acceptance letters. During each visit, they began talking longer than usual about various subjects. Caitlin was comfortable with Nick in a way that she hadn’t felt with any other man. He was down to earth, relaxed, outgoing, and very handsome without being obnoxious. He listened intently, with deep interest, as Caitlin talked, nodding or smiling with a twinkle in his hazel eyes. She felt nothing but joy whenever Nick was around. She felt tingly inside, like a young schoolgirl. It felt like more than a simple crush. She was a powerful believer in destiny, and knew in her heart that she was meant to meet Nick. But she didn’t know if Nick felt the same for her. She hoped he would in time.
One week, while Nick was on vacation, a different mail carrier made the deliveries. He was a nice older gentleman with gray hair, but she missed seeing Nick’s friendly face.
One humid morning instead of being handed her usual manuscript envelopes, she received a single pink envelope with no return address on it. After opening the letter and reading it, Caitlin was surprised and perplexed. Rather than a note, she received a poem about the ocean. It talked about finding peace by the beach and peering into the water to see your soul. No one had signed it, and she began to wonder who had written it. Pondering it for a while without any luck, Caitlin tucked the poem back in the envelope and put it on her desk.
The next day, she received a similar poem in the mail. This time, the poem was about love. Throughout the week, she continued to receive poems like these. Caitlin was puzzled yet deeply moved by the words being expressed. It was almost as if the person was speaking directly to her. Who could have written them? Did she have a secret admirer or fan? She wanted desperately to find out.
The following Monday, when Nick returned from vacation, she showed him the poems. He seemed just as stunned as she did, and had no idea who could have sent them.
When Nick delivered her mail on Tuesday, she was greeted with yet another pastel envelope. Expecting a poem inside, Caitlin was surprised to discover an invitation. It read as follows: “You are cordially invited to attend a special gathering with a writer at Anna Maria Island Beach at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow.” Slowly, she gazed up at Nick in astonishment.
“What is it?” he said nonchalantly.
“It’s an invitation to meet the mystery writer.” Without expression,
he read it. “So. Are you planning on attending this literary gala?”
“Do you think I should? What if it’s some crazy stalker who’s after me? Then again, maybe it’s a writer who has read my work. I must admit that my curiosity is starting to get the better of me. I guess it can’t hurt to go.” Caitlin gave a casual shrug.
“Why not. What could it hurt? You never know if it's a writer who might want to work with you on a future project.” With his usual smile, he handed her the rest of her mail, and continued about his mail route.
After Nick left, Caitlin kept thinking about the invitation she received. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out who this mystery writer was. She put it out of her mind for a while, and went about her day running errands and writing at the beach.
On Wednesday, when Nick came by to deliver the mail, Caitlin was surprised not to receive any pastel envelopes. Instead, Nick handed her the usual manuscript parcels. By the face she wore, Caitlin was unable to disguise her disappointment.
After a moment, Nick spoke. “Looks like you didn’t receive any poems today.”
“Yeah, I was really beginning to enjoy reading them each day. I wonder what happened. I guess I'll find out tonight.”
“That’s right! You're going to finally meet the writer. Should be interesting. Maybe it will turn out to be a handsome man,” he said playfully.
Caitlin laughed. “That would be a dream come true, but somehow I doubt it. I always have the worst luck with blind dates.”
Nick stared at her in astonishment. “I find that hard to believe. I pictured men lining up at your door.”
She grinned. “That would be great. But I haven’t found the perfect mate yet. I'm still searching for him and wonder if he even exists...I’m not too worried though. My life is good right now with a new career and new home. What more could I ask for?”
“Of course.” Nick left with a cheery smile, leaving Caitlin to her thoughts about finding the perfect man.
That evening before her meeting on the beach, Caitlin went through her closet in search of an appropriate outfit to wear. After trying on four dresses, she finally came up with a blue floral sundress. She draped her auburn locks around her head in a French twist, accenting her cream complexion and green eyes. She was nervous but excited at the same time. A million questions swirled in her head about the writer. Was it a man or a woman? How did the writer look? Would I make a good impression?
As she approached the beach just before 7:00 p.m., not a soul was in sight. The sun was starting to go down and cast its pinkish-red reflection on the shore. As Caitlin walked a little further along the beach, she could see a candlelit table for two. She looked around but didn’t see anyone. Finally, she decided to sit down and wait. Within seconds, she heard classical music playing. She then was greeted by a string quartet. In amazement, she saw a man walk towards her.
His face was familiar. At first, she thought it was a mistake. But as he joined her at the table, Caitlin knew that her wish had come true. In white pants and a blue silk shirt, his brown hair moving in rhythm with the waves, Nick presented her his dimpled smile and twinkly hazel eyes. For a moment, they stared at each another.
Then Nick spoke. “I'm so glad you came. And in honor of your presence, I would like to read you a poem entitled “Lingering Affection.” He stood to read it, and the words flowed from his lips as he professed his devotion. Tears rolled down Caitlin’s cheeks as she listened to his verses of adoration.
When he finished reading, Nick moved close to Caitlin and gazed into her eyes. Then Caitlin spoke. “I never knew that you were such a beautiful writer. How come you never pursued it?”
Nick hesitated. “Like you, I was afraid of rejection and not making any money. But when you started telling me about your enthusiasm for writing, I wanted to try my hand at it again. After our conversations, I decided to send you anonymous poems. I knew if someone else could read and enjoy them without knowing my identity, maybe I would gain confidence again. But something else happened while I wrote them. My feelings for you emerged, and the words in the poems became real.”
“Wow! I never knew that you were interested in me. I hoped you might be, but I was afraid of being disappointed once again.” A fresh tear swelled in her eye.
Reaching over, Nick clasped her hand. “So. What do you think of
your mystery writer now?”
With a wide grin, she said, “You are everything I ever hoped for. From the first day we met, I had a good feeling about you.” Leaning closer, she whispered “Now I know in my heart I was right.” Without another thought, they stood on the beach, engaged in a passionate embrace, while the sun’s rays melted beneath the turquoise waves.
Amy S. Pierce is a freelance writer residing in Grand Island, NY. A
1994 graduate of Houghton College, her work has been published in
The Trinity Tidings, Senior Beacon, Moondance Online, National Association
of Women's Writing Guide, and Creative Writing Online. Amy writes
poetry, short stories and personal essays.