"The Blue Envelope," By John Gower


She was just a block from her house when she found the blue envelope on the sidewalk. With very little hesitation Sherry picked it up and continued walking home. At age twenty-two she was at her peek of curiosity and this was just the sort of thing she needed to offset her long hard day of waitressing. She figured someone that took the bus as she had just done had probably dropped it.  

There was no name or address on the envelope and the flap was securely sealed. It felt like a card inside. Sherry thought maybe it was an invitation to a party; that would make sense, a blue envelope, yes, that was probably it. As she continued walking to her house she let her imagination wander. She thought of all the things she wished she had and all the burdens she’d like to unload. Walking up the steps to her tiny house Sherry stopped, softly stroked both her cheeks with the envelope and sniffed at it. The possibilities of what it contained seemed to sooth her.

Good, no one was home. Gail, one of her two roommates had left her a note. Barb and I went to Bob’s for dinner; adding a little heart underneath. Sherry frowned at the heart. She thought it juvenile, it reminded her of all the gifts Gail received from her relatives while Sherry was strictly on her own- … and just remember if you leave here with that boy, you are on your own, her father practically screamed two years earlier as Sherry was quickly packing.

Sherry declared to him that Joe was the love of her life. He was, as she liked to say, her first really, real, boyfriend, though looking back they really barely knew one another. Joe left her six months later, because, he said, she “was smothering him” -only to discover later that he was indeed seeing Jackie just as she had accused him of.  He did however provide the reason Sherry needed to leave her father’s house and maybe, after all, deep down she knew Joe wasn’t the one for her.

For the next few hours Sherry went about the house making dinner, looking through magazines, listening to the radio, and always touching the envelope each time she passed it on the living room table. It had taken on for her a giddy-sweet push and pull of anticipation and wonder. Later, before her roommates returned she brought the envelope to her room and placed it in her underwear drawer. She liked how the envelope had begun to buoy her imagination.

As the days passed by the imagined contents of the letter changed. One day it was a letter from a new boyfriend, on another day an invitation to a smart and lively party. When the hard days at work would build and tumble on top of one another she imagined it contained an acceptance letter for new employment. The tiresome wiping and setting of tables was made less dreary as she imagined the new job descriptions held within the envelope. After coming home at the end of her shift Sherry looked forward to opening her drawer and holding, or if her roommates were close by as they almost always were, at least seeing, the blue envelope. Just knowing it was there gave her comfort. It seemed to contain her most valuable possession; it contained her imagination. When her moods were particularly harsh and dark she placed the envelope reverently and secretively under her pillow. Each and every time she touched the envelope she most certainly thought of opening it, but each day would end with the envelope still unopened.

Some days when her mind felt weak she imagined the envelope may have been placed right there on the sidewalk for her to find and she would scan in front and around on the bus to see if there might be something else, something more. It pleased her to think her roommate was not the only one to have unexpected gifts come her way. Sherry was usually not one to pray or believe in superstition but something about this envelope had resurrected her childhood sense of hope. It felt good. It almost felt like love.

One morning her customer Fred, who she had become friendly with, approached her with the idea that she might work for him. His right-hand man at his coffee-shop had fallen ill and he was sure that she could quickly catch on. The job paid a whole lot more than she was currently making and there was talk of eventually making her a partner. She agreed right then and there to take the job and they shook on it. She gave her two weeks notice at the end of her shift. 

The next morning on her way to work she took the unopened envelope from her drawer and placed it in her purse. As she approached her bus stop she held the envelope to her chest, closed her eyes, and prayed for the first time in years. She prayed that someone might benefit from this envelope as much as she had, and she thanked that that had placed it there. Then with no one watching and to the best that she remembered she placed the envelope exactly where she had found it and walked away

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