“I got a letter from my mother today, an actual letter that came in an envelope with a stamp. The mailman left in my box with the gas bill and a sale paper from Stop N Go.”

  “Did you open the letter and read it?”

  “Not yet.”

  “Why not?”

  “I knew I was going to see you today and I thought reading the letter would be hard. I thought…that is, I was wondering if…I mean…”

  “Would you like to open the letter and read it now, while you’re here with me?”

  “I guess.”

  “Is it difficult for you to say, for certain, whether you want to open the letter?”

  “I guess.”

  “This is a safe place for you to own your feelings. You are free to choose. You may open the letter here if you wish to do so.”

  “I’m not sure what I want to do.”


  “What’s good about it?”

  “You’ve moved from ‘I guess’ to acknowledging that you are

unsure of whether you want to open the letter. Does that feel like


  “I guess.”

  “How did you feel about receiving the letter?”

  “I don’t know.”

  “Feelings can be confusing.”

  “Yes. Yes!”

  “That is not uncommon.”

  “It’s not?”

  “No. I think it’s perfectly normal to feel excited about something

you dread or feel happy about something you know will eventually

leave you feeling sad. What do you think?”

  “I guess I never really thought much about it.”

  “Do you mean to be squeezing the envelope that way?”

  “What. Oh. No. I didn’t realize I was doing that.”

  “It looked to me like you were feeling tense about the contents of

the envelope. Are you feeling? tense?”

  “I’ve been seeing you for six months, Doc. Have you ever known

me not to be tense?”

  “Are you feeling tense about the correspondence from your


  “We don’t know that it is correspondence, do we. I haven’t opened

the envelope yet. Maybe she sent me a blank sheet of paper.”


  “Maybe not.”

  “Maybe not.”

  “I just can’t imagine why she would write to me after all this time.

I mean, what could she possibly have to say to me?”

  “Are you curious?”

  “Of course, I am, wouldn’t you be?”

  “I don’t know how I would feel about receiving a letter from an

estranged parent. I don’t know whether I would be curious or if I

would tear the letter up and throw it away. Often, we don’t know

exactly how we’ll feel about something until we find ourselves

confronted with it.”

  “So, you think it’s okay for me to feel ambivalent?”

  “When we started this conversation, you seemed hesitant to

identify and own any feelings about unexpectedly receiving a piece

of mail sent to you by your mother. Now you’ve acknowledged that

you are hesitant, undecided, uncertain. I would call that progress,

wouldn’t you?”

  “I guess.”

  “How long has it been since you had contact with your mother?”

  “In person?”

  “Contact of any kind?”

  “We had our falling out years ago. It wasn’t like I was a child but

still, I felt…feel abandoned. She said some awful things to me –

things mothers just don’t say, even to their adult children.”

  “Such as?”

  “She said I was nothing but trouble. She said having me was a

mistake. She said she wished I’d never been born.”

  “Do you know why she said those things to you?”

  “No. I mean, I know we were fighting. The hell of it is, I don’t know

what we were fighting about. It’s entirely possible that I said nasty

things to her too but that doesn’t excuse what she said, does it?”

  “She said things, that day, that impacted you greatly.”

  “That’s putting it mildly. Do you know what it feels like to hear

your mother say she’s sorry you were born? It tears a hole in your

soul – one that can’t be mended.”

  “How did that final meeting between you end?”

  “I told her to drop dead and stormed out of the house.”

  “She didn’t follow you, or call after you?”


  “Did you want her to?”

  “No. Something broke in me when she said those words. I

remember just standing there in her living room with my mouth

hanging open, staring at her and do you know what she did?”


  “She just sat there, her expression as hard and cold as if she were

made of stone. I saw no warmth, no remorse, no love. In that

moment, I felt that she hated me. It changed the way I felt about

her – the way I felt about our relationship. I regret telling her to

drop dead, but I don’t regret walking out of her life and doing

everything in my power to keep her out of mine.”

  “You seem to have been successful.”

  “Until now, which is what I don’t understand. My mother is a

suborn, miserable woman. She would never offer an olive branch

without an ulterior motive.”

  “Do you think she has, offered an olive branch”

  “Not a chance. There will be no hope of reconciliation if I don’t

crawl to her. She’s just grown tired of waiting. That’s why she

wrote. I’m sure she thinks I’ll read that letter and bawl like a baby

and then call and apologize and beg permission to stop by her

house with a peace offering. She is the wronged party in every

argument. I’ve never heard her utter a word of apology, no matter

how she much she hurt someone else. And she’s always been very

good at hurting others. Ask my dad. Ask my sister. Ask anyone who

ever tried to care about her.”

  “People change.”

  “People change, but she doesn’t."

  “Do you plan to open the letter?”

  “I’m not sure.”

  “Do you have to decide here and now?”

  “What do you mean?”

  “You just received the letter. Whether you open it and read it, set

it aside to read later or decide never to open it, the choice is yours.

You may open that envelope and find that your heart can be broken

further. You may find what is inside that envelope changes you,

again, in a positive way.”

  “I came here looking for advice and all I keep hearing from you is

that I have a choice to make.”

  “That’s true. Whatever you decide, I will support you by helping

you identify your feelings.”

  “Well, Doc, that’s more than I can say for the person who sent this

letter. I want to thank you for that. Talking to you has helped me

make up my mind.”

  “May I ask what you decided.”

  “You may ask, but I choose not to tell you. See you next week,


February 03, 2021 01:51

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Linda Brodsky
22:37 Feb 16, 2021

Thank you so much, Kate. Maybe we'll find out, in a future story, what the envelope held. Wishing you well.


Show 0 replies
Kate Winchester
18:23 Feb 11, 2021

Hi Linda, You did a good job of keeping the tension and your story flowed nicely. It kept my attention and I enjoyed it. I wish I knew what was in the envelope! Lol


Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.