Episode 9 of The Writer.
“A horse. My spirit animal is a horse,” TW (aka The Writer) said, floating a foot off the floor in the arms of his wife, Sylvia.
With that, he returned to the present, dropping the carving on the floor. It was hot. Beside it was the mustang Sylvia finished carving the night before she left. Why had he left it in the box? Why hadn’t he left it where he could see it? Mostly because he wanted to forget.
And mostly he had forgotten. About once a year, a postcard came in the mail. He picked up the postcards and the other things and dropped them back inside the box and put the lid back on.As far as he was concerned, there was no use crying over spilled milk. She was gone and that was it.
Oh sure, he dated from time to time. Except for Helen, none of the relationships took. He went to Helen’s wedding and then settled into his solitary way of life. As far as being lonely, he never thought much about it.
Then the robin appeared outside his house. Why?
He wasn’t sure why he did it, but he lifted the lid off again. He reached inside the box and picked up Sylvia’s postcards and put them in chronological order, the oldest on top. He looked at the oldest. A picture of Timbuktu on one side and a short note on the other. It was signed Helen. Under her beautiful script was a line of text that looked like Arabic calligraphy.
The next year the postcard was from Egypt. The pyramids and the note and the same calligraphy below her name. Then a third postcard. Jerusalem and the calligraphy again. Next was Petra, then the Parthenon, then whirling dervishes. Hagia Sophia was on the following postcard. On and on they went, each from a holy place. And each one carried the calligraphy below her signature.
Why didn’t he recognize the script below her name? It looked familiar and yet strangely unfamiliar.
Suddenly he was hungry. And not just hungry. He was famished. From the kitchen, Cat was meowing, giving the signal that she too was hungry.
“Okay, okay,” he called out to Cat. “I’m coming.”
He dropped the postcards onto the carpet, then headed for the kitchen. Outside the sun was setting. “When did it get so late?”
He reached into the cat’s food box and pulled out her food and poured the kibbles into her bowl. Absentmindedly.
For the next hour, he felt like he was sleepwalking, his mind elsewhere, as he prepared his food, watched the news and ate. Quickly he washed the dishes, then went back to the box and the postcards.
Year by year he laid the cards out on the table. First he laid them out with the photographs facing upward. They made a beautiful collage of color and images. He sat for over an hour, admiring them. Then he turned the cards over. He checked the postmark. All were dated the first week in April.
Then it hit him. One was missing.