“A Gentle Duplicity” by Gary Cuba

We’d like to present a new Feature Story here at Metro Fiction. Please check the Metro Fiction page for more information about us.

This week, Richard T. Dreyden makes an inquiry about his past that may affect his future.

Please enjoy our Feature Story: “A Gentle Duplicity” by Gary Cuba


 

Oak Grove Retirement Home

Room 24

Milford, CT 60640

February 14, 2013

Present Occupant

3600 Aberdeen Street

Baltimore, MD 21209

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

I once lived in your house, up until the time I was twelve years old. My family subsequently relocated from Baltimore to New York City in 1949.

I remember being very happy while growing up in that old home on Aberdeen Street. In fact, looking back on it, those were the happiest years of my life.

It may sound strange, but shortly before my family moved away I wrote a message on a tiny Valentine’s Day card to my “secret crush,” a lovely little girl who lived across the street. I was much too shy to actually present it to her–but yet I still wanted, in some fashion, to preserve the sentiment it held for posterity.

Kids can come up with crazy solutions to solve problems. In my case, I simply folded the card up and “delivered” it by sticking it down inside the banister post at the top of our stairwell. Time and life intervened, and I forgot all about it until just this morning.

The cap on the banister post comes off if you pull on it hard, and the post is hollow inside. (I’m sure you can appreciate how kids have a knack for finding all the little hidey holes in a house.)

The thing is, I cannot for the life of me recall what the note said–and I’m ashamed to admit that I can no longer even remember the girl’s name. But I know the message was very poignant, something that, at the time, I wanted to tuck away inside my heart forever. I would dearly love to reclaim that early memory, since I have been losing so many of them lately.

May I impose upon you to try to retrieve the card? I’m enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope for you to send it back to me.

I know this is an unusual request, but I cannot tell you how much it would mean to me.

Blessings on you and yours,

Richard T. Dreyden

*****

3600 Aberdeen Street

Baltimore, MD 21209

February 28, 2013

Richard T. Dreyden

Oak Grove Retirement Home

Room 24

Milford, CT 60640

Dear Mr. Dreyden,

I’m enclosing the Valentine card from inside the banister. I am sorry it took so long to send it to you, but I had to wait for my son to visit me to help fish it out. He spends a lot of time out of town on business.

I do hope the message lifts your spirits and brings back a happy moment in your life. I, too, am getting on in years, a widow living alone, and I know how important cherished memories become in the lonely twilight of our lives. I’ve been losing a lot of them myself lately!

Just to add: I would have been pleased and honored to have been your “secret crush,” way back when.

I wish you all the best, and I’m glad I could help you reclaim your note at long last.

May God bless you,

Mary Riddick

*****

Oak Grove Retirement Home

Room 24

Milford, CT 60640

March 5, 2013

Mary Riddick

3600 Aberdeen Street

Baltimore, MD 21209

Dear Mary,

Thanks very much for sending me “my” old Valentine card.

While the handwriting on it betrays the identity of its true author, I can honestly say that your inscribed message stirred my ancient heart in ways that I’ve not felt for many years. How different my life might have been, had I known you as a child!

I suppose we may, at this time, confess and dispense with our gentle duplicities. As you now know, I never put a card inside the banister post at the top of the stairs. If pressed even further, I would be forced to admit that I never lived in your house when I was young. To be completely honest, I grew up in Philadelphia, not Baltimore.

I believe it is true what many people claim, that we become more like children when we get old. As you can perhaps appreciate, in our present situation it often takes a measure of naive, childlike creativity to be able to reach out to others in any meaningful way. I can offer no other defense for my half-baked action than my encroaching senility. I don’t blame you if you take umbrage; it is certainly justified in this case.

But here is another crazy, childlike thought: Why must Valentine’s Day be relegated to a single day of the year? Why can’t it be celebrated every single day of our lives–if only to help keep hold of our most precious reminiscences, and to reinforce the one thing–the only thing–that has any real importance in the world?

In short, I would like to continue to correspond with you in the future. I have many happy thoughts and memories I want to share with someone who cares, before those precious moments evaporate from my brain forever.

Hopefully,

Richard

*****

3600 Aberdeen Street

Baltimore, MD 21209

March 9, 2013

Richard T. Dreyden

Oak Grove Retirement Home

Room 24

Milford, CT 60640

Dear Richard,

What a grand notion!

Enclosed is my first “honest” Valentine card of the day. While it is rather crudely fashioned from cheap construction paper and paper lace (and, I fear, betrays the state of my advanced arthritis), it is at least entirely unencumbered by any sort of “gentle duplicity”–being as its inscribed message is a true reflection of my warmest and dearest feelings for you.

I shall look forward to receiving yours, and then again the next day–and again on every single day of every week that remains for us on this wondrous plane of existence!

Love,

Mary


Gary Cuba’s short fiction has appeared in more than sixty magazines and anthologies. Now retired, he lives in South Carolina with his wife. Visit his website to find out more about him, along with links to his other work.

 


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One Comment

  1. Sweet story.

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