I found a love letter in the forest today. It was worn and yellowed with age, nestled into a cozy opening in a tree. The envelope was dirtied as well, personally protesting my efforts to clean it. I shook it out anyway. The flimsy paper felt smooth under my fingers. Strange. It didn’t feel as rough as I’d expected. Flipping it over I saw a gorgeous wax seal, a deep purple hue that looked softer than velvet. Stamped into the wax were two hearts intertwined, that’s how I knew it was a love letter. I glanced up, noticing that the sun was beginning to set. 

The walk home was an uneventful one. I kept my eyes glued to the letter, as if it would disappear at any moment. I was so inattentive to my path that I stumbled over tree roots more times than I’d like to admit. But I made it home in one piece. 

It took me exactly 3 hours and 27 minutes to convince myself to open the letter. It was an arduous debate. Surely someone had left it there for a reason, and I was certain that they hadn’t intended me to find it. But following this rationale made me feel guilty, so I moved past that idea. Even if the letter wasn’t meant for me—I argued with myself—it was so incredibly old that it wouldn’t matter who it ended up with. This thought was much better, and yet I pondered. Just why was this letter in the forest— I mean who even does that? Obviously it’s placement was intentional, it wasn’t dropped or lost. Ultimately my curiosity won out.

Clearing my desk of the clutter that inhabited it was not what I had planned on spending my evening doing. But opening the letter felt like I was participating in a ritual, everything had to be just right. Finally, I finished with my cleaning. I set the letter in front of me, hesitant to take hold of it. I decided that I had to be delicate, lest I ruin the only exciting thing to happen to me since I found a snake in the attic. Turning on my desk lamp, I could see through the thin envelope. There was definitely a letter inside. With precision fit for a surgeon I pulled apart the envelope’s top flap. Apparently I forgot my resolve, as I dumped out the items in the envelope without a hint of grace. 

The contents of the envelope were as follows; a slightly wrinkled letter in this same condition as its casing, a dead sprig of lavender, two quarters, and the backing of an earring. All of these items together were nothing short of bizarre. I sat back in my chair, momentarily stunned by the sheer oddity of what I had found. Pushing through this daze, I continued on. My hands shook as I gingerly unfolded the letter.

What a disappointment. All of the words in the letter were smudged and faded. There were only short snippets that could be read, the rest was unintelligible. I skimmed through the letter in genuine annoyance, as if I had been personally slighted by this sheet of paper. But some things still did catch my eye. At the beginning of the letter I could faintly make out the traces of a name: Eliza. And towards the end I could make out how the letter was signed off. It read, “your beloved, Oliver.”

I have no idea who these people are. But this letter never made it to Eliza, and I want to find out why.

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