The Letters

The letters were two weeks late. No one could understand why. They were sure the letters would arrive any minute. But another week passed and the letters didn't come. Everyone stopped going to work. They stayed home and watched for the mailman. So many people were waiting for letters that most of the stores and businesses closed. Everyone understood why. It was unreasonable to expect people to shop or to concentrate on their jobs. The letters hadn't arrived. No one could think of anything else.

At noon each day the neighborhood became silent. No cars passed. No one walked dogs. The children were brought inside and made to stand quietly with their arms at their sides. The adults stood at the windows. They hid behind their curtains and spied on the mailman. He drove down the street at the same time everyday. He parked in the same place and walked up to each door at the very same time as the day before. Never early. Never late. But no one was ever ready. They tried to be prepared, but they never were.

Today when the mailman came, he brought bills, catalogues and discount coupons for the car wash. No one had expected that. They weren't sure what to do. So they thanked him and carried the mail to their dining room tables, shaking it and turning the pages of the catalogues to make sure the letters weren't stuck inside.