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Fiction Crime Teens & Young Adult

There was only one person Tom could blame for his predicament. He stared at the box that sat beside him, a box filled with letters his mother never received. He had sent them, of course, each time he would mail it and each time the letter would be returned to him. So often this happened that he had begun to store them in a box. When Tom was taken, they had at least allowed him to keep the box. What they hadn’t allowed was the letter opener he had with him. One person to blame, he thought.


He reached for the first letter in his organized pile.


Dearest Mother


All is well here. Our finest mare, Shelly, had recently given birth to her foal. Mary suggests we sell her, insisting that we have no need for the extra ‘horsepower’ and that the income would serve us well. I will admit, I am not so much opposed to the idea as I am to sell such a fine foal to the Codwalls. They have had their eye on Shelly ever since she managed to double the speed of harvesting our crops last summer. To hear that she reproduced would make their eyes glint. The thought alone is enough to conjure bile from my belly. 


I hope you will visit soon, Mother. I predict you will find the foal much to your liking, perhaps you could even provide it with a name.


Kind regards,

Tom Goodman


He read through the letters of what seemed like a past life. So much had changed since then, evidently, everything had. He scanned the four walls he knew all too well. The room was practically engulfed in darkness, the only source of light shone from a dim, flickering light in the empty spaces between each iron bar. ‘Lucky’ they had called him, for most cells had never seen light he was so well accustomed to. Had he not been sitting with his back to the cold iron bars, confined to these four walls for the rest of his life, he would have been inclined to believe that he was indeed ‘lucky’.


Tom reached for the next letter in the box that sat beside him. 


Dearest Mother


I bring good news, Mother. Our crops are growing with great momentum, suppose Mary’s prayers over the years might have succumbed to at least that. The Codwalls have yet to boast of their precious summer squash, which leads me to believe that we might have them bested once again. Shelly truly is a supreme spirit. The Codwalls have recently learned of the foal she birthed; I revel at how they snarl with envy. Mary disapproves of this behaviour, of course. I believe she once went as far as to call me a ‘Childish Oaf’, whatever that may be. My mind is made, we shall keep the foal, despite her protest. I can hardly keep the ‘Childish Oaf’ at bay. Nevertheless, I will drink and celebrate the harvest of another season, even if Mary will not take part in my enthusiasm. I have yet to see you since the wedding, therefore I would hope to have you join me at your earliest convenience! 


Here, here, to another summer’s success!


Kind regards,

Tom Goodman


The cold clung to Tom’s skin. His fingers and bare feet were not protected by the thin fabric of the garments they were provided. The dark colour resembled that of bark or dirt. A fine strategy seeing as they only had one pair and it was hardly ever washed, the soil that dirtied it would also scarcely be noticeable. Tom folded the letter he had once written and placed it back into the boxed pile. He stared down at the letters and reached for the next. He took a deep breath, and wondered how his world once could have been so small. Tom regarded the words on paper illuminated by the flickering light.


Dear Mother


Mary has named the foal: Hasten. An odd name, but one that signifies speed, which much like his mother- he too would hopefully excel at. In regard to my last letter, I must convey that the crops have suffered a blight. How such a thing could have happened, I cannot say. We caught it in the early stages, our harvest will undoubtably suffer, but not so much as to render us entirely bankrupt. Mary handles the farm’s finances, though she knows nothing of crops and hard labour. A simple woman, really.


 I vaguely remember you tend to the small garden in our backyard when I was only a little boy. I envy your green thumb, Mother. I wish you would come. Surely, you would know what to do in this situation. Surely, you would want to see your only son again.


I will keep you informed, Mother. 


Regards,

Tom Goodman


Blood warmed under his skin, staring at the words he had once crossed out. Long ago, this might have tugged on the strings of his heart. Long ago, he could swallow the lump in his throat and grit ‘forgiveness’ through his teeth. Long ago, his mind repeated, for he was no longer such a man.


 Tom heard a voice shout in the distance. An inmate possibly, these people regularly looked for trouble to stir. Tom only caught a few words as they echoed through the endless corridor. He turned his head to stare down into the dark abyss and determined that the commotion was far enough from his cell. After all, no sound or voice goes unnoticed in such depths of silence. Tom looked for his next letter, a letter that was written almost a month after the others. Such confliction, he remembered staring at the letter he held. Such a miserable man.


Dear Mother


The blight had spread further than we first assumed. I was a fool to-. Our crops are in somewhat a dire state, as is our soil. We have sent word, or rather Mary has, and help should be arriving soon to make sure the error would not be repeated. The Codwalls have already begun to harvest most of their crops, their summer squash is high in demand, a sort of ‘delicacy’. Simple people have no taste, none at all. You should have come.

You should come, Mother, if only to soothe the worries of your child or to oversee that the blight is dealt with properly. I shall keep the spare bedroom tidy and prepared for your visit.


Regards,

Tom Goodman


The commotion in the distance did all but quiet down, it only grew louder and louder. A riot? Tom brought his knees to his chest, the cold air turned freezing. A shiver traveled up his spine, causing the hairs on the back of his neck to rise. He wondered if a person was able to feel their blood draw back to protect only their vital organs. He wondered when his fingers turned blue, and his limbs numb. Surely, a person would be able to feel such a drastic change, would they not? If so, howcome he hadn't?


He huffed a giggle. Futile, for no amount of warm blood could protect him from the cold that resided within his heart. Tom felt the tickle of a tear, it leaked from the corners of his eyes. Tears shed, if only for the pain of a cold his body was unfit to defend against. His icy fingers already had the next letter in hand. 


Dear Mother


I haven’t written to you in over two months. Did you notice? Mary sold Hasten to the Codwalls, she says we are in desperate need of funds. I understand now your disapproval of her. Their faces, oh how the Codwalls’ smiles must have met their eyes. I can only imagine it. Was my Hasten worth a pretty penny at least? Mary would not say. She would not say. She would not say.


Not to matter, we could afford to feed our bellies and groom Shelly. Shelly, the mother of Hasten. Does she miss him? She must miss him. A mother must miss their child. It is almost autumn, soon the land will be nothing but a rotting, bleak disarray. You never favoured autumn either, Mother. You always hated how the fallen leaves besmirched your garden. I remember. I remember the autumn game, do you remember it, Mother? It sometimes stretched for as long as five days, sometimes longer. Five days of endless cleaning, five days without food and water, five days locked in the cold through all hours of the night. Days, endless seeming days. One day, when Mary bares my child, they too could play this game of ours. If you leave as soon as you receive this letter, you should make it just in time for autumn. I will see you soon, Mother.


Regards, 

Tom Goodman


Each breath he drew threatened to burn his throat and set his lungs ablaze. Tom stared at the last letter; commotion neared closer with each passing second. Some voices screamed in terror and others cheered victoriously. Sharp was his ears when he could distinctively make out a single person’s footsteps among the madness. Slow, steady footsteps worked to close the distance between them. Of course, he thought and shook his head before he continued to read.


Dear Mother


You once told me to beware of the boogy man. When I was only a little boy, I would believe in such tales. You told me he would capture me at my most vulnerable state. Possibly a humiliating one at that. Would he then catch me now Mother? Where I lay broken and where the dark corners of my mind could pierce flesh if it truly desired to?


Rubbish, nonsense rubbish I am spouting it seems. May I blame you? Could I even blame you? Whatever for?


Truth is, I don’t know. I don’t know a great deal of things, not anymore at least. My mind seems to wither. I am not used to this. I do not spout words in hope that it might be consequential. I never used to. What has changed, dear Mother? Why has it changed?


Maybe darkness has seeped into the thick barriers of my skull. Maybe there was only ever darkness to begin with. Was there a way to know? Could you tell when you raised me?


I laugh now, thinking back to the times I starved beneath the willow tree. If I told you I have little time left to write, would you comfort and console me as a mother should? Would you then visit me? Or would it amount to little change? The latter I find more believable, but one can hope.


You would be proud of me. The Codwalls thought they had me bested. No, no, no, never. Mary was foolish to separate Hasten from his mother, Shelly. Foolish, simple woman indeed. I took matters into my own hands, I reunited them. They should always be together, don’t you agree, Mother? Albeit a messy picture I left of the Codwalls, at least Shelly and Hasten are together once more. Such simple people besmirch the world, don't you wgree,Mother ?


Are you proud of me?


Regards

Tom Goodman


The footsteps neared; the sound grew louder with each passing second. Tom’s lip curled beneath the stubborn tears that refused to dry. He dropped the letter there where he sat before taking the letter opener in hand. He kneeled, the cold stone scaping against his knees. The steel pushed against the hard stone and Tom began to carve.


The footsteps now only a few feet away. Tom felt a burn in his fingers that traveled up his forearm and to his shoulder as he continued to carve. A sensation that threatened to numb all muscle. He would not stop; he would force the hard stone to convey his message.


There was silence. The familiar footsteps came to halt before his cell.


‘Was the riot truly necessary?’ Tom asked knowing who stood behind him. He stared at what he had just carved, inspecting it.


‘I see you have found my gift,’ the voice of a woman replied. Tom lifted the damaged letter opener, satisfied with his carving. ‘No easy task to sneak that in.’ She added.


‘Even the simplest of woman could accomplish such a task.’ He stood only to admire his work. 


‘I am not a simple woman.’ She argued, frustration welled in her voice. ‘I have proven myse-‘


‘You have yet to,’ he interrupted. ‘The job is not yet done, Mary, get me out before your silly diversion comes to an end.’


Tom could hear Mary struggle with the lock behind him. The lock budged and the cell door swung open. He only stood there, not so much as moving a muscle. ‘Tom?’ Mary worried. His grip tightened around the letter opener at the sound of her voice. Tom turned to face her, to meet the deep blue of her eyes.


Would his mother have come to visit if not for Mary? Would her disapproval of his wife be what stood between them? Could it truly have been Mary who drove his mother away, who made her disregard and abandon her only son?


Yes, indeed such a simple, foolish woman. His jaw clenched.


Within two long strides, he towered over her. One hand dug in the back of her hair and the other held the letter opener plunged deep into her throat. Warm liquid spilled from her neck and managed to decorate his bleak garments. A deep red that was to his liking.


Tom bowed his head to reach her ear and whispered: ‘One person to blame.’ A crooked smile spread over his face as he let go of her. Tom turned back to face his carving, staring at the promise he had made.


Mother


A mother should be with their child. No one will stand in our way. 


Soon, we will be reunited.


Tom


August 04, 2021 18:24

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13 comments

Francis Daisy
01:53 Aug 10, 2021

Alicia, Interesting way to craft a story with the letters intertwined, and the deleted sentences included within the letters. This was such a clever way to have interior, interior monologue happening! Very unexpected twist at the end too! -Amy

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LN K
01:32 Aug 11, 2021

I appreciate it, thank you so much! :)

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Sarah Saleem
19:15 Jun 03, 2023

I loved the suspense in the story, the style is really gripping with suspense!, will wait for your other stories!

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Gerald Daniels
13:20 Aug 13, 2021

Great story, interesting angle and well written.

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LN K
16:00 Aug 13, 2021

thank you :)

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14:22 Aug 12, 2021

Oooh, so disturbing! I loved it! Very well written.

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LN K
06:50 Aug 13, 2021

thank you! :)

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Tanisha Kumar
09:08 Aug 11, 2021

It was such a gripping story! I loved your writing style so much! And the ending left me 😳😨🤯

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LN K
09:22 Aug 11, 2021

Means a lot, thank you so much :D

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Bob E
01:29 Aug 11, 2021

Really well structured story. The use of the struck out sentences is so effective.

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LN K
01:33 Aug 11, 2021

Thank you :)

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Eliza Entwistle
17:09 Aug 09, 2021

This story was so enthralling and well-written, and emotion came through in his letters - revealing things in both the parts he chose to put in and the ones he crossed out. I wasn't expecting the dark twist at the end, and it was a fitting and haunting way to end the story. Well done!

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LN K
01:31 Aug 11, 2021

Thank you so much, this means so much to me! :)

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