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The Mail Carrier

Listen to this piece on episode 25 of the podcast.

The sun crept around a passing puff of clouds. At first timid, though a minute later emerging in full glory once the heavens opened completely. A spider’s web glistened in the post-rain glow above Andrea’s head on the front porch of her mother’s two-bedroom 1950s red brick home. Andrea chewed her lip as she struggled to stay seated rather than bolt back to the bus stop a quarter mile up the road. Every time she came to her mother’s home they argued. Today’s topic was Andrea’s ratty cotton dress “attracting the wrong sort of attention” to Pam’s good Christian home. Andrea sighed, tossing her dog chain necklace in her hands. Engraved in that metal was The Serenity Prayer. Its cursive words caught the sun’s rays.

Andrea’s mom, Pam, could have left Andrea’s mail in the mailbox. Pam could have left it in a bundle just outside the front door. But Pam brought all of the mail into her house and tucked the envelopes addressed to Andrea out of sight so that her daughter had to beg for these bits of correspondence every week. Mail sent to Andrea’s only address of record while she got her life together. Andrea shivered as the sun’s warmth intensified in the early afternoon heat. An odd response for most, but Andrea had not quite adjusted to the freedom of sun on her face. The bondage of police handcuffs and needle pocked forearms and jail cells had been her life up until five months ago. Andrea repeated the prayer as she waited for her mom’s return. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…

Andrea’s low-hung head snapped up with the heavy steps of her stress-worn and embittered mother. The storm door flew open.

“Here’s your mail,” the older woman said, thrusting a small stack into Andrea’s hands.

Andrea thumbed through them quickly. Maybe her mother wouldn’t forgive her on the healing journey. But Lily? Andrea needed her forgiveness desperately.

“Mama!” Andrea cried out just before the woman slammed the door. “Mama! Has she written anything back?”

Pam shook her head slowly, the slightest trace of pity forming on the creases around her lips.

“She calls me from Mexico all the time,” Pam said. “But Lily isn’t ready to talk to her deadbeat Mama.”

Andrea’s face wrinkled far beyond her thirty-eight years.

“One day,” Andrea whispered to herself.

And Andrea set back out for the bus stop to the half-way house where she stayed. As she walked she recited the rest of The Serenity Prayer to herself as the sun shied back behind the clouds and it began to rain once more.


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