(Letter #2)

Mr. Carson,

I’d first like to apologize for this letter being late. I haven’t gone more than a month without writing, and I have to say I’m ashamed. I haven’t written anything in almost two months, and the worst part is I don’t even feel bad about it. I usually pride myself on being consistent. Consistency is key, my father always said. He told me that if I was to get a good job and make a nice family for myself, I had to be consistent. “Tell your wife you love her, kiss her every day before you leave, and a firm hand to the backside never hurts. Show up to work, be there on time, work hard. Every day.” Of course, he never could follow his own advice and vacated our house by the time I was twelve.

Anyway, Mr. Carson, how are you doing lately? Has the leg been giving you any more trouble? I told Iris (you remember Iris, from the lodge) that you were having some joint pain, and she told me to tell you about eucalyptus. It’s supposed to help with the swelling. Her husband has to use the cane full time now, but I guess he’s doing OK with it.

I feel a rather cold wind blowing in from the north, a brisk reminder that winter is still within our rearview mirror. The days have been feeling longer the more I think about picking up and leaving like you did. I dream of adventure and sun and beaches as far as the eye can see, but this dreadful depression keeps me contained in this house. I’m clawing at the walls in my mind, but I can barely muster up the energy to make coffee.

My soul is trying to tell me something that I can’t understand.

Two weeks ago John and Marissa divorced. The couple that lived ’round the bend from the store on 49th. I was at Dino’s having a beer before heading home when I saw John come in. He looked worse for wear. His shirt was unbuttoned at the top and his tie was draped lazily to the side. He sat at the bar and put his face in his hands. I tried not to watch but he emitted heaps of distress, and I think part of me wanted to keep an eye on him.

I got the bartender’s attention, pointed to my glass and then nodded over in John’s direction. When he slid the drink over John looked up, followed the bartender’s finger to me, and, with a look of embarrassment, nodded while avoiding any further eye contact. It was obvious he didn’t want to talk so I didn’t push him. Ended up finding out a couple of days later when I ran into Marissa at the grocery store.

She, too, looked worse for wear. The bags under her eyes told me their little one was with her. I think she assumed I was going to ask where John was, so she decided to offer up that information on her own. “He says the love is gone.” I could hear the shakiness of her voice and it tied knots in my stomach. “His mother never liked me anyway, so I guess at least someone will be happy about it.” I didn’t have any words for her. She just smiled weakly and then continued pushing the cart toward whatever single mothers have time to eat.

Why do I feel as if so many around me fall in and out of love as faithfully as the seasons change? I can’t remember the last time I heard someone tell me their parents were still happily married, or that they themselves are still basking in the glow of their first marriage. If it’s not infidelity it’s money. If it’s not money it’s wanderlust. The decision of whether or not they want children. The birth of one, or the death of one. Sometimes, it seems, people will invent even new ways to part, which begs the question: Are we really destined to take one partner forever? Is it true, Mr. Carson, that we only get one soulmate in this life?

I’m sorry about my mood. I’ve been increasingly cantankerous lately, and I’m not sure what to do to stop it. I know the snow is coming soon and there’s nothing I can do about it, but I still wish, as I do every year, that maybe we’ll get a break from this blanket of despair. Maybe if there was more sunshine people would be happier. But what do I know of happiness?

If I continue this letter my dour attitude will only seek to bring you down, so I suppose I’ll end it here. Please believe me when I say we all miss you here. Mrs. Cavanaugh still makes Boston Cremes the item of the week on Thursdays, hoping that someday you’ll come back and pick one up. I check on your house from time to time, and the new residents are taking good care of it. I told them that the man who used to live there cared for his lawn like a small child cares for his blanket. They smiled and promised to do the same.

Until next time, take care, Mr. Carson.

Simon Fields.