“The Vanishing Letters” by Melinda Moore

We’d like to present a new Feature Story here at Metro Fiction. Please check the Welcome page for more information about us. This week we have a cautionary tale for new mothers.

We present our Feature Story: “The Vanishing Letters” by Melinda Moore



Emily lost her “i” in the hospital room. It was swallowed between the “m” and the “l” as she signed the birth documents for her new baby girl. The baby’s name, Miley, was written with precision to avoid any mistakes when the birth certificate was made, but, as Emily wrote her own name, Miley cried a hiccupy wail, causing Emily to scrawl her signature and whisk the baby to her bosom.

When the nurse greeted her, Emily thought the end of her name was slurred, but she soon forgot as she was brought to tears for nursing and swaddling Miley in all the wrong ways.

*****

Emly took more notice when the “l” was lost. She was at a playdate, and a little toddler with sand and snot on his face ran up to her and cried, “Ms. Emy, Miley pushed me off the slide!” Instead of correcting the child, she ran and scooped up Miley who was pouring a bucket of dirt over a girl in a purple tutu.

When her husband came home that night, he tossed his keys and wallet on the counter and said, “Hey Emy, how was your day?”

“That’s not my name,” she replied. “My name is—” but even Emly didn’t sound right.

“I know,” said her husband, kissing her forehead. “But I think it’s cute. Don’t you? Where’s Miley?”

*****

Emy lost her “y” on a winter school day when she was called in for yet another conference about Miley’s behavior. She didn’t understand why Miley acted out; she must’ve read every parenting book published. The school room smelled of paper and glue with a sprinkle of pencil shavings. It was cold, but she was always cold anymore and often thought her skin looked bluish.

“Em,” said the teacher, taking her hand over the small desktop that was Miley’s. “I think the real problem is Miley’s not being challenged enough. She should be tested for the gifted program.”

Later that night when she called to tell her mother that Miley was a genius, her mother said, “Of course she is, Em.” Emy blinked. Her mother always called her by her full name, not a nickname. But then, wasn’t Em her full name? She shrugged and went on to talk about all the important tests Miley would be taking.

*****

Em lost her “e” after a long day of driving Miley from middle school to soccer practice to a violin lesson. During the driving time, Miley ranted in her tween way about the cliques, gossip and bullying. Em offered her own stories and advice: the bond to her daughter fueling her soul and draining it at the same time. Arriving home, Em fetched the mail and noticed each letter was addressed to Ms. M.

Retreating to her room, Em shivered as she looked in the mirror and thought how her skin was chilled and almost transparent like a snowflake. Her smartphone chimed with a text from her husband: “M, I have to work through dinner. I’ll meet you at Miley’s concert.” She sighed as she tossed the phone on the bed. At least he never missed anything Miley did, no matter how pretty the client was.

*****

M lost her “m” at Miley’s graduation party. Between playing chauffeur to out of town relatives, preparing food and setting up tables, M hadn’t even had time to sign the card to her daughter. Picking up a pen, she thought her hand looked like a reflection in a shop window. Before she signed her name on the card, she looked out from her bedroom at Miley laughing with her friends in the backyard. M smiled; her hiccupy baby was now a confident woman.

Turning back to the card, she gasped when her own name escaped her thoughts. Her breathing was shallow as she flipped through her checkbook, looking for her identity, but all the checks had a blank space where her name should have been. Looking back at Miley, the pen she still held fell through emptiness, clattering on the desk.

She forgot who she was and vanished like all of the letters in Emily.


Melinda Moore lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico: The Land of Enchantment. Possessing a love of adventure, she has been a dancer, professional musician, music educator, recipe creator, parent and now published author. Her awards include The Sallie Mae First Class Teacher Award and Finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. You can read about what inspires her on her site “Enchanted Spark.”

 


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6 Comments

  1. Creepy. So much can be tied to a name.
    Thank you for the story.

  2. Beautiful!

  3. Thanks for reading! For a discussion on what inspired the story, please see my blog at enchantedspark.com.

  4. Very cool!

  5. Sweetly sad and metaphorical. Loved it!

  6. I love this story, Melinda. It tells how we can get lost while being such an intricate part of other people’s lives.

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