It is a bright summer afternoon, and it is about half past two now. You are sitting in the bay window of your mother’s house, contentedly reading a book as you occasionally glance up at the cul de sac before you. In this cozy little community you feel safe, and a little sheltered from the outside world. You glance out the window for the one source of contact to your outside world; the mail.
You are obsessed with the mail. This may stem from getting birthday cards as a kid and watching Blues Clues get excited for the mail. Sometimes you still sing the song in your head as you walk toward the mailbox and look through it all. You’re a little older now, but not old enough to stop treasuring Blues Clues. Some of your family members may find your obsession with the mail charming, weird, annoying, or all of the above. You don’t care, however. You just wish most days you got a letter addressed to you, instead of someone else, and packages you ordered for yourself don’t count.
Finally, you hear the low sputtering of the mail truck, and look up to see it making its stop at the first house in your community. You think to yourself, ‘it’s no big deal, just don’t be creepy, it’ll be here soon’. Some days you actually reprimand yourself for your obsession. What is so important about the mail anyway? It hardly ever is for you.
The mail man creeps closer. It is actually, you notice, a mail woman. She seems to be younger than how you imagine most mail people. She’s fairly short, with a deep brown skin tone, and has long, braided hair flowing out from her visor. You realize, as her truck pulls up to your mailbox, that she is the prettiest mail person you have ever seen.
Five minutes pass with you staring out the window, trapped in your own dissociative thoughts until the mail woman leaves. Then, prompted by her absence, you put your book facedown, cover open, slip on your sandals, and head out to the mailbox.
Even though you are now completing the task you had been thinking about all day, your thoughts now turn to other things as you retrieve the mail. For instance, how empty the house is right now. You told your mother you would visit her cats and take care of them while she and your father were out vacationing. Your siblings were either off at college or staying with friends for the week. Your partner worked odd hours, and so for now it was best that they stay at your apartment while you watched your childhood home. And even so, you had only seen the cats around once or twice when you fed them. You would have to go back and check on them once you had the mail.
The mailbox latch swung open with a creak that made you cringe. Gingerly, you reach into the mailbox to find a heftier stack of mail than you were expecting, although by the size of the envelopes they looked to be mostly bills for your mom. There was one envelope that seemed promising though.
You close the mailbox with a slam and turn back towards the house, sorting the mail absentmindedly as you walk. Mom, Mom, Dad, Mom… you find yourself thinking. And then, among all the bills, you notice a letter that makes you stop in your tracks.
The envelope you had hoped would be an actual letter was, indeed, an actual letter. What was surprising was that it was addressed to you. You examined the chicken scratch handwriting for a moment, trying to decipher if it could be from any distant relatives. There was no return address. On the back of the envelope was written in large letters, IMPORTANT ITEMS ENCLOSED.
You shrugged off your initial apprehension. You could wait until you got inside the house to figure out what it was.
You stepped back into the cool air of the all too quiet house. Having been alone for so long, you had no qualms about shouting for the cats to see if any of them would turn up.
“Jax! Peanut! Laney!” You called, following it up with a soft clicking noise. You listened for any signs of stirrings, but not a sound was made. You figured they were fast asleep somewhere else.
Postponing your search for the cats again, you head into the kitchen, and place the mail on the counter, save for the letter addressed to you. Eagerly, you tear through the yellow envelope, and out falls two heavy, yellowed pieces of parchment folded into each other, an odd looking necklace, and a ring with strange markings that swiveled and turned. Intrigued, you turned your attention to the heavy set of parchment. It seemed to have been unnecessarily sealed with a teal wax, but nevertheless you carefully pried it open and began to read.
Inside, the letter read:
Greetings! We hope this letter finds you well, and in a state of open mind. We are writing to congratulate you on your new position as a Magical Correspondence Deliverer (MCD for short). As an MCD, you will not have to relocate, but you will be asked to travel to many different and unfamiliar areas, as well as occasionally other dimensions.
Full details of your employment shall be arriving shortly in a package, which will also contain the rest of your equipment needed to complete your task. We expect your answer no later than the following week of the day you receive the rest of your items. The package will also have documents enclosed for you to sign before you can begin receiving payment for your work.
We look forward to your daily deliveries of correspondence!
Well Wishes and Merry Tides,
Your mouth has been open slightly in astonishment for several minutes. You can’t tell whether this is a prank or not, although you get the feeling it is most certainly not. You also can’t tell if you should feel pleased or frightened, but you get the feeling you should feel both. You flip to the second piece of parchment in your hand, now eyeing the amulet and ring on your kitchen counter warily. The second letter started similarly to the first.
Congratulations on your new position!
We are pleased that you have been chosen to be an MCD. You will find enclosed in your acceptance letter a jade amulet of protection. This has been forged by the fae and nymphs associated with our organization. This will protect you from most beings and creatures who may seek to waylay you for your parcels on your journey. As with your human post, under no circumstances should any parcels in your care fall into the possession of anyone but the receiver indicated on the parcel.
Secondly, you will also find a ring of seven leagues enclosed with your acceptance letter. We understand that not only are you mortal, but you are also human, and some of the journeys you may be asked to take are well outside of your can. We have started manufacturing these Seven League Rings (not to be confused with Seven League Boots) for both your efficiency and convenience. In your upcoming parcel you will receive a guide on the runes, but, simply put, once the ring is on and the correct runes lined up, you can take a step, and be somewhere else entirely. It should put you in the general area of where your correspondence is being delivered that day.
Congratulations again, and await further instructions regarding the use of your new equipment.
Wendel Craftsman (Head Item Manufacturer of MCD).
This was certainly no longer a joke to you. You had stepped into one of your own books, so to say, and you decided to accept this with a pleasant sort of outlook. After all, it was just like any new job, right? You were going to take it head on, nerves and all. You would figure out how to tell your family later.
You pick up the jade amulet, examining it closely. Considering it was for protection only, you figured it couldn’t hurt to put it on. Slipping it over your neck, you feel a slight chill run through your body as the stone hit your chest. You could only assume that was the protection charm taking effect. The ring you were more wary of. Not knowing how to work it, or even if it was active, you use the palm of your hand to coax it off the counter and into the envelope. With it safely back inside, along with the letters of acceptance and items, you figured there was nothing left for you to do but wait for further instructions. Until then, you would have to go on about your day.
It was time to see where those cats had gotten to, anyway.
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Hi, Aimee. I'm part of your critique circle this week. This was a great story. It made me hungry for more. I could see this as the intro to a novel or series. I see what Aqsa Malik means by the tense switching, but honestly that is one of my issues, too. It's hard to catch unless you have someone else peer edit. All in all I thought it was a great story, with straightforward descriptions to make for a comfortable read.
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed my story! Also it's good to know that I'm not the only one who had difficulty with the tense for this prompt.
Hey Aimee! What I loved straight off the bat were your descriptions- they were brought out really well and the actions in the rest of your story were super authentic. Secondly, the premise was amazingly engaging, and reminded me of all the fantasy books that I love and cherish. Aspects like the "Seven Leagues Ring" were so original and added a nice flair to the usual premise of magic, which was great! I seriously think it could be used as the concept of a novel. I did notice a few things that I'll point out as feedback: -You repeat...
Thank you so much for your feedback Aqsa! I'm so glad you liked those details, I really enjoyed writing those bits the best! I will say writing in second person was confusing for me as well, because I knew I started in a sort of present tense, but when I write third or first person I write in a sort of past tense. I thought maybe I had cleaned the tense difference up, but oh well. Thanks again!
Great story on the second person contest. I'm still struggling with mine, haha.
Thank you! I did really struggle with this, but I'm happy with how it turned out. I've also convinced myself to do a different prompt for this contest so that will be interesting.
Okay. I'd like to read that one, too. This one is really great, so I suppose the next story you write will be equally as good - or even better. I enjoyed the fantasy part of this one, too. I think I should applaud you for that because I'm a sucker for fantasy and sci-fi stories.
Aww thank you! I'm the same, I love fantasy and sci-fi. Thanks for your encouragement!
You're welcome :)