“You really shouldn’t,” said the voice.
Derrick pulled back his hand.
Something tugged at the back of his mind. It felt warm yet commanding. Like a fatherly presence, stern yet loving.
When Derrick turned around, he saw no one there, only the empty street lined with quiet houses. The chill air made him hug his shoulders, and he remained that way, his back turned to the mailbox. He still held the letter.
Unstamped, it was sealed with a distorted circle of red wax and had a name scribbled in black ink on the other side. “Constance.” Inside, the letter felt unnaturally heavy.
“Why not?” He silently mouthed the words in the cold night air. Looking up, he saw nothing. The stars were muted behind a heavy cloud layer. The nearby street lamp shone down like a stage light.
“You do not want this.”
Derrick looked down at his feet. He felt the truth of this. Although he remembered the fevered pace of his pen when writing the letter, although he remembered the yearning inside his heart at the time, his memory of the act now felt alien. He had only thought he wanted to reconnect with Constance. He had only thought the time they had spent together going on five months now had meant something more than a joke.
He knew better now. The voice told him so, and he knew it was true.
“But you’re going to deliver it anyway.”
He knew this was true, too, and when he walked away from the street side mailbox the letter was no longer in his hand.