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  • Shelly Desjarlais

Delivering My Heart

It was official. Abby Easten had entered uncharted territory. Her heart hammered against her chest, and she struggled to slow her breathing. Although she could have blamed her anxiety on the tumultuous state of the world, she refused to lie to herself. She knew exactly why she was about to leap through her skin.


The moment had finally come.

Some Months Earlier

Abby found it difficult to say good things about her boss. He recently became one of the partners in the law firm, and his newfound authority overfed his ugly ego. However, the man kept the kitchen stocked with ten different flavors of coffee. Abby had to give him credit for keeping his staff awake. After listening to him at meetings, they needed the caffeine.

Every afternoon, Abby went to the kitchen for a cup. She was purposely indecisive when selecting a blend. Also, she used the oldest coffee maker available. The coffee maker sputtered and hissed when it brewed, and it took a ridiculous amount of time to finish. Abby enjoyed waiting. It meant she had a few extra moments away from her desk.

Once she had a full cup, she unenthusiastically returned to work. She sat her favorite mug on the windowsill directly beside her desk. The window overlooked a busy and cluttered street. She was somewhat annoyed by the business below her second-floor office. They were always renovating something. The hammers were maddening. That afternoon, a massive BANG echoed.

Abby jolted and peered through the window. The odd owner of the neighboring business was standing on his roof. An entire collection of paint cans had crashed onto his parking lot. At that moment, a mail truck rolled up to the business. Abby watched as the mail carrier stepped out. Due to the thin window glass, Abby could hear the woman shout.

“You okay up there, Mr. Varguse?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah! Leave my mail on the steps down there, would ya?” the owner shouted in return.

As requested, she put Mr. Varguse’s mail and packages on his steps. The angle gave Abby a clear view of the woman. Abby guessed she was about ten years older than her, but the woman was far more fit. Her uniform hat concealed most of her blonde hair. Abby couldn’t see the woman’s eyes beneath her reflective sunglasses, yet she saw the woman’s bright smile. It was captivating.

“I’m such a creep,” Abby grumbled to herself. “Looking at someone through a window like some kind of stalker. Quit it, Ab…”

Still, Abby stole a final glance. She saw that the mail truck was heading towards the mailroom in their building. They were obviously part of the truck’s route, yet Abby hadn’t seen the mail carrier before. She realized she only noticed the carrier because of Mr. Varguse’s clumsiness. Perhaps the mail truck rolled into the parking lot below every day without Abby noticing.

For some reason, the appearance of the mail truck was caught in the webs of Abby’s mind. She was deeply disturbed by her interest in its driver. How would she feel if she found out some weirdo was watching her through a window? Uncomfortable. Unsettled. Unnerved. Regardless, there was something about that woman Abby simply couldn’t shake.

When the next day arrived, Abby took her usual afternoon coffee break. As she added sugar to her cup, she thought about the mail truck once more. Maybe she’d see it again. She considered the idea on the way to her desk. It was unlikely, she believed. Nevertheless, her gaze drifted through her window. She only saw that Mr. Varguse was on his roof again.

So far, there was no sign of the truck or the mail carrier. Abby told herself to ignore the entire thing, but she couldn’t help checking the window. Roughly ten minutes later, the mail truck made its entrance. Abby watched the same mail carrier step onto the pavement. She couldn’t hear what the carrier said to Mr. Varguse this time, yet the woman displayed the same magnetic smile. Abby couldn’t help being drawn to it.

One week passed. The mail truck always stopped next door around the same time. Abby cut her coffee break in half just to be sure she wouldn’t miss it. She chided herself every time, attempting to remember how impolite it was to stare. It didn’t make a difference. Abby was enchanted. She figured she would have to do something about it before voyeurism became a habit. They had to meet somehow. The office was on her route…

On a Tuesday afternoon, Abby visited her coworker’s cubical. He almost always had outgoing mail. “Hey, Lincoln. I’m going downstairs for a minute. Do you have any mail? I’d be happy to take it down for you.”

“That’d be great. I have a few letters. If you could find stamps for them too, I’d appreciate it,” he brightly answered.

“Sure thing.”

Letters in hand, Abby went downstairs to their modest mailroom. She slowly added postage to the thick envelopes. Afterwards, she lingered by the various bins. Every floor had one. In their business, snail mail and faxes were essential. Abby usually found it annoying. Now, she didn’t mind it one bit.

Throughout the room, envelopes were stacked like towers. It would take the carrier a few minutes to gather everything. That’d give Abby time to chat with her. Only if the carrier arrived soon, however.

A loud noise caught Abby’s attention. She saw one arm, a foot, and a hand cart stacked with boxes caught in the doorway. Grumbles floated from the other side, and the arm suddenly grew a shoulder. The door clanked and squeaked unnervingly against the metal of the hand cart. Abby realized the mail carrier was attempting to open the door with an awkward wiggle. She swooped in to save the day.

When the carrier finally rolled into the mailroom, she sighed deeply. “Thanks.”

“No problem,” Abby muttered at the soft tone of the woman’s voice.

Abby silently watched the carrier stack the boxes in a neat column. Then, the carrier adjusted the mailbag at her side. While she put the new mail in its place, she flashed her vibrant smile. “That door hates me. It never lets me through without a fight. You should’ve seen what happened when I had to deliver a shredder last month. I’m surprised I lived to tell the tale.”

“If that’s the same shredder we got on the second floor, that thing is massive,” Abby shyly replied.

“It needs its own zip code,” she laughed. In between grabbing stacks of envelopes, she paused. She slid her sunglasses to the tip of her nose, revealing her lively green eyes. “I’m Vera, by the way.”

“I’m Abby. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too.”

Abby stood in place while Vera collected the rest of the mail. Even though she had ample opportunity to say something, Abby froze. She lost the power of speech whenever she was near an attractive woman, and she wasn’t the talkative type to begin with. Her mouth remained shut as Vera used her foot to pop the hand cart onto its wheels.

“Well, thanks again for the help, Abby. Have a great rest of your day.”

Vera was already gone when Abby whispered. “You too, Vera.”

It became apparent to Abby. She blew it. Now, she was even more fascinated by Vera, yet she couldn’t loiter in the mailroom every day. She had already been away from her desk too long. It was true that she could try again in a week or two, but she was too socially awkward to give it another go. If she couldn’t say anything this time, she probably wouldn’t be able to say anything if they met again.

The day went forward, but Abby couldn’t focus on anything. When she went home, she couldn’t focus on anything there either. There was a powerful force in her chest that told her she had to talk to Vera again. It was impossible for her to explain. She was almost afraid to think about it too much. She thought about it anyway.

In the morning, Abby poured her orange juice and flipped through her mail from the day before. It seemed she only received magazines and bills. She remembered a time when she traded letters with friends and family. As a teen, she exchanged love notes with a lifeguard she met on vacation until they got bored with one another. That was it, Abby realized. That was the answer.

Before she left for work, she pulled a stationary set from an office drawer. She stuffed it in her purse and took her coffee to go. An array of ideas rolled over her like a thick blanket of raindrops. Her skin prickled with apprehension. She wrote and rewrote a note in her head until her lunch break arrived. Then, she had to put something on paper.

Too simple? Too wordy? Too forward? Too vague? Too disturbing? Too, too, too—

Abby stopped questioning and finally signed her name. The bright yellow envelope would surely stand out. She also wrote Vera’s name in colossal letters with bold markers. If Abby tucked it at an angle under one of the mail bins, Vera wouldn’t be able to miss it.

That afternoon, Vera was right on schedule. She left her truck to find Mr. Varguse wrestling with new gutters on the roof. She automatically set his mail on the steps, chuckling to herself. He was usually the most interesting part of her day, but that wasn’t true anymore. Her focus had shifted to the law offices.

Ever since she ran into Abby, she wondered if she’d see Abby again. Vera thought about it more often than she wanted to admit. She thought Abby was sweet, and Abby’s face was incredibly memorable. Yet, Vera assumed Abby wouldn’t recall the conversation they shared. She believed that most people saw her truck and her uniform. Not her.

No one was in the mailroom that afternoon, though it was usually empty when she entered. She went about gathering the various stacks of mail. When she reached a certain bin, she saw a yellow envelope sticking out the side. Upon removing it, she saw her name on the front. Rather than taking it to the truck with her, she chose to open it right away.

Vera,

I don’t know if you’ll remember me. We met in the mailroom when the door tried to crush you. I’ve seen you through my office window when you stop for Mr. Varguse too. Anyway, there’s something about you that makes me want to get to know you. If you’d want to talk, you can write me back if you want. Or you can write me back if you think I’m too much of a stalker. In that case, I can order blinds.

Abby

The creep on the second floor

Just before Vera visited the mailroom, Abby saw Vera make her usual stop at the business next door. Her pulse jumped when she saw Vera’s truck circle the building. Agitation nipped at her lungs, and she wheezed with uncertainty. For her peace of mind, she had to check the mailroom to be sure the letter was gone.

When Abby arrived, the letter had been taken. She knew Vera had read it because she saw a shred of the yellow envelope stuck to the cheap floor. Part of her was relieved to know it was received, but she worried about Vera’s reaction. Naturally, there was no way to know. She could only theorize and drive herself crazy.

The next day, the mail arrived earlier than usual. Abby was lost in her coffee and work when Lincoln tapped on her door. Slurping loudly, she glanced. “Yes?”

“The mail came early,” he informed her. His fingers plucked a specific envelope from his stack.

“You got something. It doesn’t say where it’s from.”

He handed her an envelope that lacked postage. Only three words were written on the front: Abby, Second Floor.

After thanking Lincoln, Abby tore open the envelope. Her nervous hands could barely keep the paper still enough to read the messy handwriting.

Abby,

I remember you. You left an impression. I was hoping I’d see you again. I want to get to know you too, so write me anytime.

Vera

The creep in the mail truck

In that second, it officially started. Abby and Vera began to trade notes every day. Eventually, the notes turned into letters. The letters became multiple pages long. The best part of Vera’s day was finding another yellow envelope in the mailroom. The best part of Abby’s day was receiving an envelope with Vera’s handwriting on the front.

They shared everything. Abby found out Vera collected stamps, and Vera found out Abby was a magician’s assistant in college. Vera mentioned that she ate ham sandwiches every day, and Abby told Vera what it was like growing up in Las Vegas. Vera mentioned four brothers, and Abby mentioned massive family reunions. They shared stories, hopes, dreams, and fears. Their conversations never slowed.

Although they wrote every day and thought about one another constantly, they hadn’t moved past the page. They both considered providing a phone number or an invitation to meet in person, yet fear gripped their hearts. What if they weren’t what the other expected? What if things became too real? Abby and Vera were already in deep. It wouldn’t take much to fall in love—or break.

Soon, they couldn’t go on a date in person even if they found the courage to ask. A new phrase appeared in everyday conversation: Social distancing. It was due to the pandemic that was impacting the entire world, which kept many people at home and businesses closed. Luckily, work did not end for Abby and Vera since they were considered essential employees. They still exchanged their letters, wearing their gloves and masks to keep each other safe.

Mr. Varguse was not considered essential, so his business was closed. Abby’s mood tanked when she realized that meant she wouldn’t see Vera’s mail truck every afternoon. Vera would wave at Abby’s window whenever she was in Mr. Varguse’s lot. Vera couldn’t see Abby through the glass, but Abby told Vera which window was hers. Abby promised Vera she always waved back at her.

Vera didn’t want to stop waving every afternoon. So, she decided to use Mr. Varguse’s lot as a shortcut to the law offices. Abby was surprised when Vera’s truck still appeared. This time, Vera didn’t just wave. She also held up a sign. Abby read it aloud.

Hello. See you tomorrow.

Smiling, Abby waved back at the window as Vera’s truck pulled away. The new ritual began. They would wave at each other while Vera held up a sign. Vera’s words were different every day, and they were always adorable and funny. Abby replied to the messages on the signs when she wrote Vera. One sign finally changed it all.

Wish you were here,” Abby read it quietly. She sighed at the reality of their situation. “I guess one of us has to do it.”

The moment had finally come. Abby was going to put the letter under the bin. She was still absolutely terrified to ask her out. This was Vera. This wasn’t some cute girl she met in the produce aisle at the supermarket. Vera was so much more than that. Her letters were living in the chambers of Abby’s heart, and now Abby was opening the door to her soul.

It was true that Abby only spoke to Vera in person once, but Abby knew Vera had to be the one for her. She hadn’t been so sure of anything in her life before. It felt right the second she saw Vera in the lot below. Abby wondered if Vera felt the same way in the mailroom. She wondered if Vera felt that way at all.

Abby forced herself to go to the mailroom on a Thursday morning. She found the courage to tuck the letter under the bin, and then she ran before she could change her mind. She kept an eye on Mr. Varguse’s lot. Vera looked up at the windows and waved. Her sign was a drawing of a smiley face. Abby laughed and began to relax. It didn’t last. The tension returned, and it was even stronger. She replayed the note.

Dearest Vera,

I was wondering if maybe possibly you might like to stop by my house someday. I’m home Sunday afternoons. We can…I don’t know. Shout across the street or something. I’d just like to see you without a window. I was letting the pandemic thing keep me from asking, but I couldn’t hold back anymore.

Yours, Abby

The next day, Abby waited. She didn’t see the mail truck in the afternoon. According to Lincoln, the mail came in the morning. There was nothing for Abby. She felt like she had been kicked in the gut. The sensation lingered all day. It lingered all night. It lingered on Saturday as well. The devastation was almost too much to take.

She wasn’t sure what went wrong. It was true Abby worried if Vera felt the same way as she did, but she didn’t worry too much about Vera’s affection. Vera was the kindest and most caring person Abby had ever met. Vera said wonderful and charming things to Abby, and she often spoke of her fondness for her too.

Yet, she didn’t answer Abby’s letter.

On Sunday afternoon, Abby did her chores around the house. They usually helped keep her mind off the rest of the world, but it wasn’t helping that day. As she stuffed a load of laundry into the washer, there was a knock on the door. She went to her front door with confusion on her face. There was no reason for anyone to stop by, especially given the rules of social distancing.

When she opened the door, no one was there. Instead, there was a bag of food on the front porch. A note was stapled to the paper bag inside. It was a phone number. She removed her phone from her pocket and dialed it. She almost dropped the phone when she heard who it was.

“Sorry I couldn’t send a formal acceptance letter on Friday,” Vera’s smooth voice answered. “I had to cover a different route. This isn’t a bad time to shout across the street at each other or something, is it?”

Abby smiled and chuckled. “Not at all.”

“Good. I hope you don’t mind sandwiches. You know how I am about sandwiches.”

“Yeah. I know you. Where are you right now?”

Vera appeared from behind the neighbor’s hedges. Exchanging smiles, Abby went halfway down her walkway. She set the bag of food down and took one of the sandwiches from the bag. She retreated three feet, and then she sat on the ground with her legs folded. Vera did the same. They didn’t care about the six feet between them. They were just happy to be close enough to see each other’s eyes.

“How’d you find me?” Abby asked.

“I’m a mail carrier. I have connections,” Vera laughed. “Oh, that reminds me. I have a letter to deliver.”

Gently, Vera tossed a letter to Abby. The envelope had her name scrawled on the front, yet the flap was not closed. Abby easily took the letter out and unfurled the page. After she read it, she placed it on the ground at her hip. Vera swallowed nervously at Abby’s reaction. Then, Abby grinned wider than she ever had.

“Yes,” Abby said.

“Yeah?”

“Definitely yes,” Abby confirmed.

Vera displayed her charming grin. “I’d kiss you right now, but I can only wave from over here.”

“At least this is closer than waving to a building.”

“So true, love.”

They waved at one another as they shared a laugh. The letter on the ground was fluttering slightly in the breeze.

Dearest Abby,

I have something important to ask. It seems appropriate that I write it down because letters brought us together. I saw you only once, but I knew you were different. After talking for so long, I can say it. I’d like to finally be with you instead of your letters. Would you be with me?

With all my heart, Vera

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