Near 500 words: TW and Sylvia

Episode 21 of The Writer

“Have you let Sylvia go?” TW (aka The Writer) wasn’t sure he was imagining the question until he heard Helen ask a second time, “Have you let Sylvia go?”

It was then that TW remembered the postcards. “I’m afraid not.”

“Then I’m sorry,” Helen said. “I was thinking maybe. But now I realize things aren’t going to work for us. Even casually dating. I’m not up to competing with another woman. I’m much better than that.”

She stood up. “Thanks for the breakfast. I’ve got to go.” Then she was out the front door and gone.

He paid for breakfast, then made the walk back to his house. It was a mile or so but it gave him some time to think. What’s moving on going to look like?

By the time he walked up his driveway, he had decided. The best thing was to keep busy. And the first item of his agenda for keeping busy was finding out more about Sylvia’s postcards.

Standing on the front porch, he opened his mailbox. There was only piece of mail. Another postcard from Sylvia.

Inside he sat down. On one side of the postcard, Sylvia sat beside an older woman dressed in red. The woman’s hair was long and white. The two were surrounded by children. Behind them was a Buddhist temple with blue and white and yellow and green flags flying above them.

On the other side was Sylvia’s short message: “The end of the rainbow. Shangri-la at last. Sylvia.” Then the ancient text below her signature.

As he looked at the  photograph of a smiling Sylvia, shivers shot up and down his spine. Then a calm came over him.

He sat the card down on the table, then pulled the box down from the hall closet. He opened the lid of the box. And the postcards were not there.

He searched through the other things in the box. Everything was the way he had left it. With two exceptions. Sylvia’s carvings of the robin and butterfly and the mustang.

He dumped everything in the box onto the carpet and rifled through the ingredients a second time. Nothing. Nada. The missing postcards and carvings were gone.

He sat staring at the items on the floor, then at the empty box, struggling to think what might have happened to them. He started questioning if he had put them back in the box. After several minutes of doubt, he was sure. They had gone back in the box.

He remembered his appointment with Dr. Christine Baxter. It had been for ten a.m. that morning. He looked at his watch. Two p.m. Maybe he could still catch her.

He grabbed the postcard and out the door he went. Thirty minutes later he pulled up into the parking lot for the social sciences and language disciplines. He locked his car and headed inside the white stone building and up the stairs to the third floor and Dr. Baxter’s office. He found her office and knocked on the door, then opened the door.

At her desk sat a pale, thin woman stooped over a text behind a wall of papers and books.

TW knocked again on the door and the woman looked up.

“Dr. Baxter? Dr. Christine Baxter?”

She slipped off her glasses and looked up. “Yes,” she said, her voice sounding like music.