I didn’t technically lose the letters. Did I already say this? I can’t remember. There came a point in time when I was ready to move on and I didn’t feel the need to hold onto to the words. I had convinced myself that I didn’t need them anymore. I knew the words by heart- not all of them, but the ones that had the biggest impact on me.
Most of his letters were filled with his own delusional beliefs of how his sentence was going to be overturned and about how he was watching inmates around him being released every day. In these letters, I was instructed to call the warden, and I guess what you would call the clergyman, and beg for his early release. I did this every day for a long while, left messages that is. Apparently wardens and clergymen in prisons are busy people.
His dad used to call me sometimes. He had such a kind voice on the phone. He would ask me how I was holding up and if I needed anything. I always told him I didn’t even though I knew he knew I was having financial troubles- all because of the collect calls. He used to ask me often when I was going to relocate from Florida to Texas. I avoided the subject best I could. After all, there are no oceans in Texas, not in this part anyways. He paid my phone bill a couple of times.
I used to take pictures with disposable cameras. Dozens of pictures and I would send these a few at a time in my letters to him. I used to spritz my letters with perfume- a cheap spray I bought from Walmart and never actually wore because I never used to enjoy perfume back then. Sometimes I would tear out the fragrance flip-up advertisements from magazines and create envelopes out of them, never any fragrances that I ever actually wore.
I used to send him books of stamps, sometimes half-books, sometimes full ones. Oftentimes I would lose full books of stamps and find them much later when my bank balance was below zero. In times like this, finding those stamps made me happy. Except for the occasional letter to friends in other countries, I can’t remember the last time I used a stamp but I know it’s been nearly fourteen years since I’ve bought a book of stamps.
The envelopes his letters came in were always stamped “SENT FROM AN INMATE IN X CORRECTIONAL FACILITY.” I was still living with my parents, well I had moved back in with them, and it seemed that the letters stopped coming. I did my best to get to the mailbox before they did but when I was pregnant and working full-time, it wasn’t always quite that easy. I was exhausted often. Exhausted and depressed.
I’m sure more than a few of the letters he sent to me were thrown out by my parents before I could see them. Finally, I went and paid for a post office box. I felt so accomplished for having done such an adult thing. I checked that box religiously. I think my parents had thought the letters had stopped coming and I’m sure they were happy.
I kept his letters neatly filed away in the top drawer of a small nightstand that I had had for all of my life. It was white with yellow flowers on the front of the two drawers. It was the same dresser that I used to hide my cigarettes in when I first started smoking. I never in my life- before or after that period of time- used that nightstand for anything else, and after I threw out all of his letters, that little, white, two-drawer dresser with the yellow flowers painted on it remained empty.