Letters I Cannot Write

Submitted into Contest #196 in response to: Write a story that includes the phrase “Maybe in another life.”... view prompt


Romance Coming of Age Drama

Dear You,

The sun still shines, the moon still cries. The sand remains warm, beneath my feet, and the ocean tide ceaselessly roars far in the distance. Everything in sight remains the same around me, yet I can feel that everything has changed. 

The calendar on my bedroom wall flips its pages by, in no way fit to measure the time that has passed since your path interrupted mine. The humidity of one autumn night, under that deceiving fairytale of blinding floodlights. My shaking hands reached forward to yours, which too could not remain still. My body hung slightly over the small balcony, peering into your world that was slowly becoming mine. Our eyes didn’t meet just then, or perhaps they would have if someone did not scream, “Michael,” causing you to withdraw from me and ending our meeting. Do you remember our first meeting, too?

As the sunshine came and went, our conversations never seemed to end. Even now, I can’t fathom what we laughed about, shared smirks about, or dreamed about. Autumn continued and as the withering leaves fell from the trees, I too was falling, weak to my knees. There was one time, when I walked quite a path just to see you for a few moments. So many people flooded the space around us, yet all I could focus on was you. I wanted to hug you, but I wasn’t sure if you wanted that too. So, we stood awkwardly next to each other, my body heating up and my cheeks flushing completely. To this day, I hope that you could tell. 

I went away for some time, and somehow this only brought me closer to you. You utterly consumed me, every minute of my day, every breath of my soul. Every song reminded me of you, every wave bringing back memories of you. There was one night, where my palms sunk into the sand by the beach. The aurora of colors mixed in the sky as the sun slowly drew its light away. The repeated pattern of the tide was nothing new, the waves rising up heavy and flowing out softly as they reached my feet. Yet, in that moment, I felt as though I was in some moving painting, painted by you. Out on the beach, people were all around me. There was laughter out in the ocean, chatter from somewhere behind. Still, in every stranger’s voice, I heard yours. In each shadow that brushed by, I looked up hoping to find you. It grew completely dark, save for the glimpse of a light out in the distance. I believed that light to be you. It was on that night, in this light, I knew what I felt for you. 

All I could do was smile, especially after I told you. Winter was approaching, and I continued falling. I thought you were too. Perhaps winter came sooner than I expected, for I wasn’t prepared for the shuddering cold that came over me. Under some evil circumstance, or the harsh reality of this, you became colder than the ice that caused me to slip on my front porch, crashing to the ground. Only, you refused to pull my body up. This was the first time I had to do this, since your eyes latched on to mine, and I almost forgot how. You no longer wanting to protect me was the first crack. At first, you refusing to help me was what hurt. However, I think that not knowing why hurts even more.

This was only the first chill of winter. As the air grew colder, you weren’t there reminding me of the warmth. So, I tried to light a small fire with all that I had and every time a  flame went up, you put it out. Out by the fireplace framed with brick and pictures of us, we did this repeatedly, until I had nothing left to light a spark with. It was just, gone. As you were when I could no longer feel your body next to me, the bed feeling even colder than before. With time, you ceased to even spare me a few words, until there was complete silence. Your silence was the second crack.

I went by the porch more often, knowing that I could not remain steady there. With purpose, I did this, hoping that you would see and try to save me. Looking at the gray trunk of the tree, I sucked in a harsh breath. Even if you didn’t want to be near me, speak to me, keep me warm, I just needed to know that a part of you still cared. I could feel your eyes piercing through my back through the frosted window, I knew you were there. Yet, as I gripped the railing harshly, almost crashing to the floor, I first turned to see you. And there you were again, gone.

It was a cold, barren evening in December. The fire was not lit, the bed remained empty, and it was no longer quiet. It was truly and indefinitely silent. Then, there was distant shuffling somewhere in the living room. Wiping my dry eyes, I wandered through the dim lighting of the hallway. Frozen, I saw you with everything that you had, packed up and heading through the door. When you turned around, I actually saw your eyes for the first time since I can remember. How can those be the same autumn eyes? I saw hurt in your tears forming, yet disregard for the hurt flooding mine. It was then that I realized the fireplace had actually been lit. You were leaving me with some warmth before you left.

“Were you going to say goodbye?” I scoffed, a new emotion seeping through my cracks.

You lowered your head, forcing something out “Anna, I-” 

“NO!” I heard my own voice somewhere in the room. “You cannot do this, not to me. After everything, after you-” I couldn’t make sense of my own thoughts.

“I have to leave,” you tried to reason.

“You don’t have to, you are choosing to. You are choosing to leave me!” The rage continued filling me.

“I cannot explain this, not now, I just have to go.”

I scoffed, mocking your lousy excuse, “You cannot explain to me why you are suddenly exiting my life? I don’t even deserve a simple reason?” 

“Anna please-”

“It feels as though you’d already left, weeks ago. I might even be imagining you right now.”

“Please-” you dropped your bag and reached out to me, “I have to go. I need to go.”

“No! You do not get to act like that and simply leave like that!” I pushed you away, wanting nothing but to pull you closer. “Is this how much you care for me? Do you care about me?”

“I-” you looked in the direction of the fire and then down, away from my eyes, “I don’t know.”

It felt as though I sunk, far beneath a pile of snow, my voice meekly forced out, “So all this time, what did it mean to you? Did it mean anything to you?

“Look, Anna. I can’t speak to you anymore, not about any of this. I’m leaving, now,” you picked up your bag and pulled the door open further. I stood perfectly in your view, inside of the doorframe.

My body was still, my arms wrapped around my chest for support. You were leaving, until-

“Anna,” you paused for a moment and turned to me, “this can’t happen. We can’t happen.”

“Maybe in another life,” you took a breath in and looked away, “I could have loved you.”

With that, you disappeared, as if you were never here, with the door swinging wide open. I stood, still, and somehow not shattered. Those words should’ve been an arrow to my heart, shattering every bit of my composure. But, they didn’t. They did something even worse-they gave me hope. Hope that if you could not be mine in this life, there was a slight of a chance that I would be with you in another. In a way, this was much more shattering.

Now, in hindsight, you were probably never mine. There were probably others, who had as much of your heart as I believed I did. As foolish as I am, I was always yours. I will always be yours. I fell until there nothing left of me, and I hate to admit that I am still falling. Every time I see your face or hear your name, it only takes me a flash of a second to fall again, for you. I pretend that I have no concern for you, and I know that you can see through this facade. 

All I have wanted for some time was to see you, talk to you, even argue with you. But, I’m slowly realizing that our flame was one of the past. It has long gone out and I am only burning myself by constantly trying to light it again. You are gone, no longer walking the path of my life. And you chose for it to be this way. I am now choosing to accept that, as much calendar days as it took for me to reach here. I cannot keep needing you anymore. I cannot keep holding on to any thoughts of you. I can no longer allow the memory of you to consume me, when the simple thought of me does nothing to you at all.

Even still, I know that part of me will love you forever, if this is what we can call this burden in my soul.

So, I say this to you in words I cannot speak, tears I cannot shed, memories I cannot keep, and letter I cannot write,


A flame from your past.

May 06, 2023 03:55

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Wally Schmidt
23:23 May 13, 2023

MSP Welcome to Reedsy and thank you for submitting your first story. It is a very visceral piece filled with passion and heartache. Anna is clearly tormented by Michael (or at least the thought of him) and seems to barely have a life outside of the one she has constructed around him. I think your story captures this all-consuming passion really well. I hope more people will discover your writing. On Reedsy, in other for other to discover your work, you need to read others stories and comment on them and like them (if you do) that is how the ...


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Mia N
00:43 May 11, 2023

Hi MSP, The buildup was phenomenal. I enjoyed feeling the passion towards ‘you’ turn into the drifting apart as the story continued. I did find some of your paragraphs hard to read (the first couple) for which separating them into smaller chunks may be helpful. Thanks for the read! Friendly, Mireya


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