Hi friends! I had four wonderful submissions for our little contest, and I need your help judging them. I’ve reposted them all below (sorry, it does make for a long post). Would you leave your thoughts in the comments on who should be the grand prize winner? 🙂
You’ve Got Mail by Sharon Glass (email submission)
“Grandpa, can I write you a letter when you go to heaven?” Tammy curled up beside Josh in the hospital bed; her blonde curls brushed his face and the scent of freshly washed hair momentarily took away the hospitals’ antiseptic smell.
“Sweet girl, I promise you that if you write, I’ll get your letter.” Josh and Tammy had a special bond ever since she was born eight years ago. It broke his heart to think he might never hold her again.
After Tammy left the hospital with her mother Sarah admonished Josh, “You promised something that won’t happen. Now, all she’ll remember is the last thing you told her was a lie.”
“That’s why you’re going to put a mailbox at the foot of my grave.”
“What! Have you lost your mind? I can’t believe you’re asking me to do this. I’ll look stupid. Do you want people to make fun of your family?”
“Sarah, how do you know I can’t get Tammy’s letter in heaven?”
“Joshua Campbell, you’re talking foolishness now, must be the medication.”
“What if it isn’t foolishness Sarah? Will you promise me you’ll do this?”
Sarah knew she couldn’t refuse this last request from her dying husband, “Okay Josh, I’ll do it, but only because I think you want to remind everyone that you delivered mail for thirty years.” She smiled, leaned over and kissed his cheek. As she went to bed that night she wondered how she would explain this to her children and their families.
The sharp ring of the phone awakened Sarah, “Hello. Yes, this is Mrs. Campbell.”
Joshua was gone. Days later he was buried in the family plot.
Sarah asked her son to purchase a regular mailbox with a bright red flag and put it at the foot of Josh’s grave. The children knew what their father had requested and seemed okay with it. She sat down with Tammy and they wrote a letter. The next day they went to the graveyard.
“Can I put the letter in the mailbox and raise the flag so grandpa will know that he has mail? Tammy was so excited.
“Of course you can sweetheart.”
Tammy stood on tiptoe, deposited the letter and raised the flag.
The next day at Tammy’s insistence they went to check the mailbox.
“Look grandma, the flag’s down! That means grandpa got the letter.” Tammy ran to the mailbox.
Inside was a letter addressed to Tammy. It was Josh’s handwriting.
“Read it grandma, read it.” Tammy exclaimed.
Fearing her legs would fail Sarah sat down on the grass. With trembling hands she opened the letter and read out loud, Dear Tammy, its beautiful here. Guess what? I have a job. I deliver mail between heaven and earth. So, you see, just as I promised, I will always get your mail.”
Pictured above the the grave of Mrs. Eugimina Brewer, who passed away one year ago last Thursday after a long fight against lung cancer. Mrs. Brewer, “Miss Mina” to her many friends, sensing her impeding demise, and living off a fixed income of her husband’s pension, applied for every loan and credit card she could get her hands on, then used the money to buy supplies for local and foreign charities. “Let them bill me in Heaven” she is quoted as saying.
Mrs. Brewer purchased school supplies for the victims of last year’s tornado, and cows and chickens for a village in Africa, as well as many other items of need. Her niece, Mrs. Arlene Schwartz of Longview, exasperated and tired of dealing with constant calls from Mrs. Brewer’s creditors, finally recalled Miss Mina’s words and informed all of Miss Mina’s creditors of her new address. Marsh & Longfellow Mortuary owner Tom Feldspar, who sang in the choir next to Miss Mina, had a mailbox installed near her grave for Mrs. Brewer’s growing correspondence.
“Some days we don’t get anything, but most days ol’ Ed Johnson has to drive out and deliver mail to Miss Mina’s box. If we’d known ahead of time I would’ve interred her in Row 12, right by the entrance, for no additional charge, but who knew Miss Mina’d get so much mail?” said Feldspar, “She’s got her own address and everything, Plot 198-A2Q in care of Marsh & Longfellow Mortuary. I find the legal notices the funniest. After all, who’s going to sue a dead woman?”
Chuck Flaa, for one. Mr. Flaa is legal director for the American Credit Issuers Association’s Texas Division. “We need to make sure that our client’s are not defrauded, and people realize that death will not stop us from pursuing our claims against Mrs. Brewer’s estate,” said Flaa. “Heck, if need be we’ll dig up her bones and sell them to a medical school. At least we’ll make a few bucks that way, and the thought of medical students playing practical jokes with her spleen or wrist deep in her hootus may convince the next old lady not to pull a stunt like this,” continued Flaa.
The Mailbox Madame – by Ed J. Horton
Mavis gazed at the grave, her lips pursed and her eyebrows scrunched close together. Her sister Chelsea stood next to her. “Do you think Grandma would like it?” She nodded at the mailbox.
“You know she would think it’s a hoot. Grandma had a great sense of humor.”
“Yes, but maybe burying her dribbler glass and whoopee cushion with her was going far enough.”
Chelsea turned and looked into her sister’s eyes. “You worry too much, big sis.”
“Perhaps, but Mom and Dad were often on the receiving end of Grandma’s jokes. They might not like our gesture as much.”
“Oh, please! They just never appreciated Grandma’s sense of humor the way we did. Remember how she teased them about being too stodgy for their own good?”
Mavis nodded. A small smile began to creep across her face. “Actually, the irony of the mailbox is pretty funny.”
Chelsea cocked her head. “Can’t you hear Grandma laughing from heaven?”
“Yeah, I guess I can.” Mavis closed her eyes. She pictured her grandmother with her head thrown back and her curly white locks bouncing as she laughed. “She really earned the ‘Mailbox Madame’ title engraved on her tombstone.”
“She told me not a day went by that she didn’t drop something in the mail to someone who needed it. Whether it was a note of encouragement, a requested recipe, a humorous cartoon, or a prankster letter, she used the U.S. Postal Service to spread her cheer.”
“I know.” Chelsea looked thoughtful. “After my divorce, she sent me a note every day for months letting me know she loved me without question or judgment. Sometimes it contained a Bible verse or just the words ‘I love you.’” She reached into her purse, pulling out a soggy-looking tissue.
“Let’s see, it’s been about seven years since my car accident. Grandma either visited or mailed me funny cards with jokes and riddles every day afterwards.”
Chelsea wiped her raggedy tissue across the dusty silver mailbox.
“You know her all-time funniest use of the mail system, don’t you?” Mavis asked.
They said the words together. “The costume party.”
Mavis bent and wiped a patch of dirt from the gravestone. “Who would have thought of mailing each invitation with individual instructions to dress as a character from a specific movie?”
“Mom showed up as the green-faced wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz and Dad…” Laughing, she stopped to compose herself. “And Dad posing as Winnie the Pooh, carrying a honey pot and wearing a short red t-shirt that did not quite cover his belly.”
“They realized Grandma’s prank when they saw the rest of us dressed as characters from serious classics.”
Mavis curtsied. “I did do justice to Gone with the Wind, didn’t I?”
“My, my, you certainly did Miss Scarlett,” her sister said, using her best Southern accent.
Mavis plucked a loose thread from her postal worker uniform, saying, “God bless the Mailbox Madame.”
She pops the red flag up, glancing over her shoulder as she does. They all do. She looks at the sky and presses the palms of her hands to her eyes.
It’s Jack I feel bad for. A postal worker in life, he didn’t know he’d be required to continue his courier services by death.
When she’s gone, I collect the letters, one from her to “Mrs. Virginia Anders” and two others. Mrs. Anders is her mom. Or is it was? I’m never sure on these things. I know this because this is her third letter to leave. The first was tentative. “I miss you and love you.” You could tell she didn’t know where this was going. The second letter was needier. “I could use you this week! What do I tell him?”
I steam the envelope to her third letter and carefully peel open the flap. She’s angry, oh so angry! “How could you leave me!” she says. In spots, the writing smudges. The color of the ink distends into this circles with ragged edges. The paper’s wrinkled.
Then I do something I’ve never done with any of the letters. I add a note at the bottom. “Mrs. Anders,” I write. “Please don’t worry. I’ll take care of her.” I refold the letter, return it to the envelope, and glue the flap shut again. Then I take it and the rest of the letters in a metal bowl to John’s gravesite. I light a match and watch them burn like I have for two years now. It’s not in my job description.
The letter in my pocket crinkles when I lie on my back. I pick out a few constellations and wonder about the families of Orion and Gemini. I ask them, Is this right? Will the gods punish me for this? But it doesn’t matter if they do or don’t, so I take the letter and slip it in the mailbox.
It’s almost a week before she comes back. She rifles through the other letters in the mailbox. They all do. No one expects anything, but they hope. You can tell. I know when she sees my letter. Everything in her body halts like she was hit by a sting ray gun. She looks around, but no one else is in this section of the cemetery right now, and pulls the letter out, pocketing it almost before I can see she has it. She starts to put in her letter, but stops. Instead, she leaves with it.
Later that afternoon, she comes to me. I’m in the crane, digging another gravesite. My stomach does some sort of basketball play, running every which way. Her facial expression could mean anything. I jump out of the backhoe and wipe my hands.
“Yes,” she whispers. I can barely hear her, but I know that’s what she says because the next instant, she’s in my arms.