Wednesday, June 15, 2022

WEP June 2022: Please Read the Letter


It's already time for another WEP Challenge in our Year of Music. This month's musical inspiration is "Please Read the Letter" by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. For more information or to join in on the fun, check out this post. If you need additional inspiration for this prompt, be sure to check out the Challenges 2022 page.

Here's my take on this month's prompt. I hope you enjoy.


The Letters Left Unread

Ingrid wrote a letter every day. It was a habit she started early in her childhood. Her first letters were written to Santa. She didn’t write just one like most kids her age. No. Her anticipation in the lead up to Christmas was so intense that she found herself writing to him daily. Her spelling was less than perfect, her childish scrawl filled with inverted letters, but she poured every bit of feeling she could into those letters. 


Dear Santa,


My name is Ingrid. I want a pony. Do your elfs like makking toys? Do you like flying around the wurld?


I love you.


Ingrid


She wanted him to read them. She wanted that so badly, but she never got a reply.

Then Ingrid got older, and she learned the truth of things. She also learned that her parents, who had promised to mail those Santa letters, had instead kept them in an old trunk of keepsakes in the attic. They were a treasure, something her mom and dad valued dearly.

So she kept writing. These letters weren’t meant for anyone to read. They were more of a diary of her feelings. A way to say truths she wouldn’t dare say to anyone’s face.


Dear Miss Potter,


I don’t like you. I liked Mrs. Brown better. She was nice, and you are mean. I wish I could go back to 4th grade so I don’t have to be in your class. No one else likes you, either.


Sincerely,

Ingrid Pearl Nelson


That was her first angry letter. It stuck out in her mind years later. That was how she learned she could release her anger and frustration on the page and feel better afterward. So of course, that became her favorite way to vent about problems and frustrations.

She wrote letters to her family members. Friends. She wrote them to her exes after a breakup. 


Dear Brad,


I trusted you. That was a mistake. You kept telling me I was paranoid. You flirted with so many girls, often right in front of me. The rumors I kept hearing. You kept changing plans last minute with minimal explanation. Every time I tried to talk to you about my concerns, you kept twisting my words and using them to make me feel crazy.

There’s no denying the truth now. I saw you and Debbie with my own eyes. We are over. I wish I could push you into traffic, but you’re not worth going to prison. You’re not worth another minute of my time. To hell with you.


Sincerely,

Ingrid


On and on, she grew and accumulated stacks of letters. She placed them in shoe boxes under her bed. When she moved out to go to college, she brought them all with her. She stacked them in the bottom of her cramped closet where her shoes could have gone.

The small frustrations often made it into her collection.


Dear Random Stranger,


You drive like a moron. How dare you cut me off in traffic then dare to flash a rude gesture at me as if I’d done something wrong? Yes, I stopped in time to avoid an accident, but maybe I shouldn’t have. Maybe I should have rammed into your rear end and damaged your precious Mustang. You’d have deserved the resulting damage.

Please take some driving lessons.


Sincerely,

Ingrid


Heartbreak made it into her letters, too. Two months after she wrote that last angry letter, she had reason to write another relating to a car. Unfortunately, an accident actually happened this time.


Dear Random Stranger,


Why did you have to do it? Why did you have to get in your car after a long night at the bar? Why did you have to drive down the same road my mom takes home after a long shift at work? Why did it have to be her?

Damn you. I wish I could tell you how much I hate you for taking her away from me, but I can’t because you died too. Maybe some would call your death a just punishment, but you don’t get to suffer for what you did. You got the easy way out as far as I’m concerned.


Bitterly yours,

Ingrid


That letter went in a box, never to be seen by anyone else. The next morning, after a restless night of tears and hardly any sleep, she sat down to pen another letter.

This one didn’t go into a box. Instead, she slipped this one into an envelope, and when the funeral took place two days later, it accompanied her in her purse.

After she watched her mother’s coffin being lowered into the ground, she lingered until the crowd had thinned out enough to give her some privacy. She gazed down at the shiny box that would soon be covered in dirt. There was so much she wanted to say, but her voice wouldn’t work. Instead, she pulled the envelope out of her pocket and tossed it in. She wanted her mother to read the letter, to tuck it away somewhere to be reread and treasured as she had with the Santa letters. The best Ingrid could do was leave it here with her.

Ingrid walked back to the car, her body numb as her mind relayed the words she’d written.


Dear Mom,


I’m sorry I didn’t tell you how much I love and appreciate you every single day. I wish I hadn’t fought with you over so many tiny, pointless things. None of them mattered. Not really. I can see that now.

I wish I could have one more day with you. I wish I could find a way to fix everything. It all feels so broken now.

I feel broken now.

I’ll always love you.


Love,

Ingrid


Word Count: 962

FCA

Tagline: A young woman writes letters to cope with the difficulties of life.




17 comments:

  1. Clever take on the prompt with an unexpected ending. Profoundly moving!

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  2. Brilliant! So many people learn to deal with feelings by writing - and this showcases that so well. I hope Ingrid finds a reason to write a joyous letter too!

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  3. Imagine writing letters all your life!? The letters written here, highlight your character brilliantly. Well done.
    Nancy

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  4. I love your story. It’s a clever and original take on the prompt. I like how it progresses from writing to Santa to writing to her mother after she died. My brother is a therapist, and he suggests his clients write letters to help them express their feelings. Sometimes it’s easier to write stuff you struggle with than to say it out loud. Thanks for a good read.

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  5. Hi Laura - this was clever ... a great selection of letters extracted from those held by her, yet written over her life ... this sort of accident occurs more often than one likes - and then we're lost. Excellent take on the prompt - lovely - cheers Hilary

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  6. Tears here. Profoundly moving post.

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  7. Ingrid, you're my soul sister. That is what I do too, what all writers do. We write what we feel. We channel our emotions through our stories, when it feels like an impossibility to express them openly. Write, Ingrid, write!

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  8. An interesting way to adhere to the prompt. I liked how you traced Ingrid's life through letters.
    -Sonia

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  9. This was consummately done! Letters as a release and at the end an eulogy. Brilliant take on the prompt.

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  10. Laura, a very real way to cope with life - the cathartic power of letters. The ending was unexpected and very moving. Thanks for the brilliant take on the prompt.

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  11. Ah! this moved me. A wonderful usage of the prompt :)

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  12. A lovely piece which traces the character's life, and as the piece unfolds, it serves as character development.
    Well done!

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  13. Very moving and a wonderful character arc. Letter writing is a lost art. I love the idea of using them to get out feelings, like a journal.

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  14. I can of course admire the way you wrote the story but more than that I want to tell you how much your story made me feel. And that is a clear sign of great writing. Thank you.

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  15. I've written letters like that all my life. Used to love corresponding with family and friends that way. But always wrote my angst in a letter never to be sent. The one I sent backfired in a big way. Live and learn. But your take is just lovely, so sad but brilliant!

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  16. Well done. A story in letters! You made me teary eyed.

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  17. Writing letters that are never sent is a good way to deal with feelings. This post took quite a journey.
    I wrote a humorous piece for the June WEP prompt (it isn't adult, though some may mistake it as such at first, depending on your hobbies).
    And I'm contemplating my favorite book worlds for the IWSG July prompt (I'm co-hosting). Any thoughts?
    Over at Operation Awesome, we're gearing up for our Pass or Pages query contest with July's family saga genre. Know any writers who might want to enter?

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