“…and all of us really enjoyed the cookies you sent. Thanks! You’re a great friend, Jean. Sure wish I was home and we could hang out like we used to. Pray this war is over soon and I can leave Vietnam for good. Thanks for your letters, they mean a lot to me. Tell everyone I said hi! Write back soon. Joe”
Sitting on her front porch, Jean ran her finger over the yellowed paper, still remembering the excitement of getting letters from Joe. They had been friends for years, then Jean realized she was in love with him shortly before he left for Vietnam. Too shy to reveal her true feelings, she continued corresponding with him just as a friend. She had actually written a letter declaring her love for him, but had always been too scared to mail it. If only she-
The cheery voice startled her as Jean looked up from her keepsakes.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to scare ya.”
The face was unfamiliar, but she recognized the postal uniform. Hers was one of only a few neighborhoods that still had mail delivered on foot.
“That’s okay,” Jean smiled. “Are you new?”
“I’m a sub. Angelo’s the name. Frank’s takin’ a couple days off.” He nodded at the box in her lap. “Must be some good readin’”
Embarrassed, Jean pushed the letters back down. “Just some old memories.”
“Good ones, I hope.”
Angelo raised an eyebrow. “You don’t sound too sure.”
Jean normally didn’t open up to strangers, but there was something so kind and inviting about him, she felt free to talk.
“Just someone I cared very much for, but I never let him know. I hoped things would just happen for us somehow, but they never did. He went off to Vietnam and then his family moved away and I never heard from him again. I did marry, but it didn’t last long. He just wasn’t Joe. I did write him this, but-” she stopped, suddenly self-conscious.
“Never mailed it?”
Jean shook her head.
“I think you should.”
“What? Now? That was over forty years ago! I don’t even know where he is, or what he’s doing, or-”
“Well, when you need something delivered, you know who to call!” Angelo leaned forward, holding out his hand.
“How would you know where he is?”
“Let’s just say…I know a lot of people.”
“Oh, this is just silly!”
“Maybe,” Angelo took a step closer. “But haven’t you always wondered what could have been?”
Jean nodded silently.
Angelo kneeled, looking up into her eyes. “Then why not? Won’t you feel better knowing that at least you tried?”
Slowly, she pulled her letter out from among the others, handing it to Angelo. He took it and gently placed it in his pocket.
“Words have power to change our lives,” he stood and turned to leave. “Always remember that.”
Jean paused for a moment, lost in thought, then jumped up. “Oh, I forgot to-” She stopped, looking around. Angelo was nowhere to be found.
“Grama Jean! Look! I’m doing it!”
The little girl turned awkward cartwheels on the front lawn.
“That’s wonderful, Katie! I knew you could!”
“Where’s Grampa Joe?”
Joe stepped outside as the screen door slammed behind him. “Here I am! Looking good, sweetie!”
He turned to Jean, holding up an old, fragile letter, “Guess what I found?”
“Is that THE letter?”
“Indeed, it is! The letter that changed my life!”
“Both our lives!”
“Yes, both. I was so surprised to get it…and so happy. Amazing what a few words can do.” Joe pulled her close. “It’s so strange how that whole thing happened, isn’t it?”
“Do you ever wonder how things would be if you hadn’t sent it?”
Jean smiled, watching their granddaughter play. “No, not at all.”
“Really?” Joe pulled back, grinning. “So, my dear, if you had it to do all over again…would you still send it?”
Jean glanced across the street and noticed a mysterious mailman…smiling.
She rested her head on Joe’s shoulder, “I already did.”
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