It started with a letter—a letter that led me on such a miraculous and terrifying journey. And a letter I kept until my final days. I had met many people, many who were irreplaceable even ‘till my death.
It was a quiet summer. The mail carrier went and did his job. He handed me the letters since he knew I usually left the house for a morning walk at the exact same time as he arrived. It meant that I had to go back and put down the letters on the coffee table. If you opened the front door, the first thing that you’d see was the living room and its polar bear carpet. It had a one-two step stair made of white and strong marbles. The inner decoration of this house reminded me of an asylum and their quiet rooms. Too bright.
When I slipped my shoes off and dropped the letters on the table, I saw one of them that stuck out to me.
To: Valiant Lave
From: Tyler Varando
I can’t say it’s a letter, but rather, a birthday or greeting card. It opened vertically and inside contained such vocabularies, “Where are you?”
Three years since I last met him and he appeared to be the same idiot that I knew just from this. No, his brain probably degraded even more without me. Or maybe this was a trap. Heck, it was a good one. I had the urge to write back just to scold him. Although there wasn’t an address found anywhere, so it meant that Tyler handed it to the mail carrier. He must be close.
Shoving my shoes back on, I darted out of the house with the card glued to my left hand. For once, he was in town, and he asked for me. If it was such a vague question like that, he possibly thought it was a brilliant puzzle for me to solve. Perhaps it had something to do with our younger days. Oh, and was it marvelous. Tyler often yelled, “Where are you?” at the playground because he knew that I was hiding there somewhere. I was proud of him; he was using part of his brain. That was an improvement. If I could shed a tear, I would.
The playground wasn’t far, but it wasn’t at a pace where I could walk there within five minutes. From my neighborhood, I had to make a left and head straight for a couple of blocks, and then I would hit the obvious attraction for families. It was a park slash a playground for kids; this was where all the drama happened back in elementary. When I did get to my destination, I saw a boy sitting on the swings, whistling a familiar tune. He hit all those low marks as if he had done this a thousand times. “Dark Summer’s Day,” I blurted.
He stopped. His coated brown hair that took the spotlight and the only place that was left of his original color was his sideburns, it gleamed black. Then he examined me with his russet eyes. A smile peaked upon the corners of his mouth and he had to yell out, “Vallerie!”
Three years and he still called me by the name that I despised with an iron fist. So I clenched my hands, biting my lips in order to keep myself from jabbing him when he closed up. Swinging his arms around me, I was snuggled like a teddy bear. I played along for the sake of his fun—for two seconds—but then I pushed him away afterwards. “What are you doing here?”
“To wonder where you are,” he replied.
“I’m here,” I said.
“But you’re not with me,” a bold statement. Tyler was always too thickheaded to know when to leave me alone back then.
I couldn’t help but to smile at his foolishness. “We’re not kids anymore, Tyler. And don’t say anything like that again, you sound stupid.” After seeing his pathetic smile of defeat, I continued, “So what have you been doing for the past three years?”
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.” Something completely off topic.
“About what? You leaving town and out of connection for good?”
He nodded. “My family is a respected and feared family on this island. Each and every one of us is required to go to the school that our family put a lot of their income in, St. Arkive. It’s a tradition.”
“Ah, so what you’re saying is that your family took you away from this place because there’s so much trouble that you’ve caused and that the school district here is terrible.”
“Pretty much,” he groaned. “I’m really sorry for that.”
“Are you here just to apologize? Because this is pathetic. ‘I’m sorry I left you in this dump and went on to a better life.’”
Tyler shook, his eyes determined. “I want you to go to St. Arkive.”
“What are you? An advertiser recruiting new students?” I was unwavered.
He chuckled at my dry joke, but added, “Don’t you want to leave this place?”
Tyler, you live here for about three or four years and you’re saying that this place is an abomination? Oh, I loved to say that, but I couldn’t. I had agreed with him. “You’re right. I would love to get out of this place. But do you really think that I want to be with you?”
He bobbed his head like a child waiting for his prize. My face rested on the palm of my main hand as I sighed at his stupidity. This made a silence between us. And guessed who broke it? Tyler stretched his arms out and within his hands laid an actual letter. He said, “Take it.”
So I did.
Then, he bowed to me, told me to have a good day, and left. He left me in the playground, just like before. Oh, déjà vu.
When I got tired of watching his figure become smaller and smaller, I went back home. My eyes kept at the letter. It was white, but squared. On the front, it said, “For Valiant.”
I entered my home, greeted my mother, and head upstairs to my room. The sun was setting, and darkness would soon cover my room. Flipping the light switch on and making my way to the table, I opened the letter in the gentlest manner I could. It looked like it could be reattached with no problem. I began to read. Astonishment overwhelmed me.
For more, look at my tab. Or to the left where it says ISWAL.