The Lost Love Letters of CumberlandGerry LaFemina
I know she wrote them–Shawnda– but don’t know (can’t know, really) whether he read them. If not, did she just misplace these folded sheets of looseleaf– her chubby, cursive declarations of love–or did she leave them deliberately there like square-winged moths on a bench downtown slightly ruffling in the slight wind. There are, of course, some answers I can never know though I try to picture Andrew’s pimpled, bemused face & close-cropped hair not knowing if this urge when he’s around her to touch her is love or something . . . baser. He’s sixteen after all so why wouldn’t he throw away those notes that proclaim I wanna be with you for the rest of my life until I die. I wanna have your kids? I can’t say, but there they were some with a lingering patina of perfume, & I gathered them up gently, fingering each sheet so I could fold them up perfectly again as if they had never been read even though I had no intention of returning them. Hadn’t I thrown away all the romantic notes of my youth? –the ones I wrote & never sent, the one I didn’t receive? A girl I loved then committed suicide & another was born again; & Shawnda looks downward all the time & complains bitterly to her friends. I’ve seen her or someone just like her at the shopping mall & coffeeshop. It always comes back to Andrew who does what he always does & who seems confused by her crying & who says to her I love you & hopes he means it, & who is like any of us in the face of that overwhelming.
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