The Postcards

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by

Cheryl Chia

It’s sad that one would pick sending an email or text message over taking up a pen and scribbling with purpose and pursuit. That’s what I thought almost everyday. How could I not notice? Seeing that among stacks of official government letters, there were hardly any personal mail with imperfect writing. I’ve worked here for 10 years and I find it a predicament. Can a text message give out the scent of a place? Can an email let on the nuances that comes with how hard the pen is pressed on the paper? 

Oh look, it’s 12. Time for lunch. My thoughts broke and I head to the canteen. Macaroni soup was on the menu. I shall have that. I didn’t feel that hungry. I looked at the clock.  It read 2pm. Oh great. I quickly slurped up the remaining soup, went to the ladies and rushed back to my work station. The postal officer came by at 2.05pm on the dot with his bag of mail for the day and I signed for it. I pushed the big trolley of mail to the sorting room and sat down with a smile. Let’s see if there’s a post card from either lovebirds today. I love how they always keep to schedule. Tuesday he replies, and Friday she replies. And today was Friday. Hmph.

I’ve been a witness to this blossoming love story that defied all current social conventions of present day romance. Exactly two months back, a post card caught my eye. Who writes post cards these days? I was so intrigued I read it. A certain Ethan based in London was a journalist who had met a certain lass Danielle when he was backpacking across America. Both were quite unlike your modern day couple. They had promised to keep in touch via the most unconventional means, to keep their communication tangible and romantic.

As an audience to a slow developing romance quite the opposite from television’s super sonic wham-bam-thank-you-mam’s tales, I’ve learnt that patience is a virtue that I need to hone. I was getting anxious week after week. Last week’s post card was intense and went like this:

Dear Danielle,

I love reading your postcards every week but what I want more than anything in the world is to see you in the flesh again and hold you in my arms. 

I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I am coming to visit you next week. We will talk more then. 

Love, 

Ethan. 

A proposal! Surely she must be ecstatic! I know I was! Today she would have sent her reply. I was looking forward to a super romantic one. I went through tonnes of mail before my eyes landed upon a super cursive writing with a medium point blue ballpoint pen. 

Dear Ethan,

I’m so sorry. You cannot come to visit. I have met someone. Someone who can be in the same country as I am. I wanted to tell you earlier but I couldn’t bear to break your heart. But I think you deserve to know the truth. I will understand if you don’t ever want to reply me again.

Love Danielle. 

Noooooo. This cannot be. This does not end here. What would I do week after week? I need their story to go on. I cannot imagine life without this pair. Danielle oh Danielle what were you thinking! 

My mind was pacing and I suddenly felt like I was betrayed. I felt what Ethan could feel. I had known them so well I could feel what either was feeling. 

Then it clicked. 

I went to the next room, got myself a postcard, laid Danielle’s one next to the new card and mimicked her handwriting while I crafted my reply:

Dear Ethan,

Alas I won’t be in the country often as my best friend has taken ill and I have to visit her. I won’t be able to write often but I will give you the new address once I have it. I am excited to meet you in the near future though. Keep well.

Love,

Danielle.

I did it. I committed forgery. 

Was I really going to send it? What do I stand to gain? I held the forged postcard in my hands and looked at it hard. The words I had written under someone’s identity inked on a card that featured the Niagara falls on the reverse. My stomach feels like the Niagara falls. Could I really be this desperate for some human contact that I would interfere with the lives of others? 

Maybe. Yes. 

I have to. And I threw the postcard into the sorted pile of mail. It will reach London. He will think Danielle still loves him. All will be fine. 

And if he replies? I will give him my own address. Yes that’s what I will do.

And he will never know it is me.


Cheryl is a very hungry person. She likes cake and truffle fries and words. She does CrossFit to offset the result of her hungry diet. She believes that it is in the feeding of one’s stomach and soul that we attain wisdom. Once in a while she writes to get her mind off fries. And sometimes it works!

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