I found the ivory envelope in the hotel room on the fifth floor. The bed was to my left, flawlessly made, red covers pulled tight, white sheets peeking out from underneath them, and a variety of red and white pillows stacked neatly in two rows. The floor was just a shade darker than white, the popcorn ceiling similar, and the walls were a solemn shade of grey. Two paintings were hung, one a portrayal of a brilliant sunset on the far wall between two small windows, the other of a sole red rose, just above the bed. After setting down my collection of belongings on the wooden desk to my right, the ivory envelope captured my attention. It was placed at the foot of the bed, in the far corner, and wrapped around it was a blue ribbon, twisted into a bow. It was not addressed to anyone, but there was a small, handwritten heart in thin, red ink on the top right corner.
I felt my heart rate increase, my chest tighten as I walked to the firm bed and sat next to the envelope, bringing my legs to my chest. I lifted my right hand to my mouth and began biting the skin around the nail on my middle finger… Anxiety rushed over me like water. I had an idea of what this was, but I was hoping it was just a love letter, or something else. There was a heart on it, after all. I argued with myself about opening the letter; was that a violation of privacy? Was this intended for a specific audience? Do I actually want to know what’s inside?
I took a deep breath, and with quivering fingers I unwrapped the blue ribbon from the ivory, and hesitantly opened the envelope. It was not sealed. I pulled out a single piece of paper folded in thirds, thin, college ruled, lined in black ink. The handwriting was neat, small, each letter obviously carefully placed. I noticed there were areas where the ink had bled, blending a couple words into one. Like the envelope, the paper was not addressed. I began to read.
If you’re reading this, I want to thank you. I want to thank you for caring enough to open the envelope, pull out the paper, and letting your eyes skim across the lines. I wouldn’t have to apologize for the illegible sections of this note had I been able to type it; ink doesn’t run when tears land among the keys on a keyboard.
I tried. I tried so hard. I tried so hard for so many years. I’ve lost so much of myself I don’t know who I am anymore. That carefree, outgoing, beautiful blonde girl with bright blue eyes and a bright future is gone. And no matter how hard or how long I fought for her, I couldn’t get her back. I guess she was broken a long time ago. All I wanted was to get her bright eyes back, see her hope and joy and laughter and life in my eyes, but all they hold now are secrets of how my mind and body betrayed me. I have spent so long trying to fix a body that didn’t want to fix me back. Trying to find the pieces of me I’ve shattered, or the pieces people have stolen from me has proven to be an impossible task, and I’m tired. I’m tired of just be patient; tired of smile, it’s not that bad; tired of keep your chin up; tired of you’re strong enough to do this. I fight wars within myself people can’t see, and some people refuse to believe exist. All I wanted was to have her back, and to be ok. Because she was ok. And I’m not. They told me to go to therapy, so I went to therapy. They told me to see a psychiatrist, so I saw a psychiatrist. They told me to take medication, so I took medication. And still here I am, in such agony I cannot put it in words. I have hurt myself, I have hurt others, I have scorched everything trying to recreate who I was when I was her. I couldn’t do it. All I have left is clear when I look in the mirror: an unsettled mind and chaotic thought process, eyes overflowing with sorrow and frustration and helplessness, and a frail body falling apart. Nobody can see the broken heart buried within my chest, but I can. I’ll never get that girl back, and I loathe who I’ve become. I’m not going to blame anyone for what turned that wonderful girl into this broken beast, but this was not all my doing. What’s left of me is an empty shell of a woman who can’t keep herself together anymore. I can no longer justify waking up in the morning to the same demons that put me to sleep the night before. I cannot do this anymore. So this last cigarette is my hourglass; when the smoke ceases to drift off the lit end and dissipate into the night air, I will say goodbye. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry to anyone who cared. I’m sorry to anyone who tried to help me in my struggle. I’m sorry to my friends, my family, my doctors, my boyfriend; please know you did not fail. There was nothing more you could do, or could have done. I can thank you for the happy moments I remember. Without you, I wouldn’t have gotten this far. I just want to be that girl I was. Since she died a long time ago, I’m going to go be with her. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough. Death is the only guaranteed cure for everything.
I need to be at peace.
I stared at the paper for several long moments, seemingly an eternity, as warm tears fell from my cheeks onto the paper in my shaking hand. Her tears were no longer the only tears shed for her; her heart no longer the only heart broken for her. And it was broken for me. I set the paper on top of the ivory envelope, dropped my head in my hands, and let myself go. Her story, what she had written, was my story. That piece of paper sitting on the red covers beside me held my struggle, my pain, my agony, my demons. She described what I had been attempting to for years. I could feel every word, and in a way it broke me because she was likely gone, and I was still here. Guilt hit me, a wrecking ball to my stomach. Why couldn’t she do it? Why couldn’t she handle it? Why did I make it further than she did? Why her, why not –
A knock on the thick hotel door startled me. I quickly sucked in my sniffles, and yelled, “Just a minute, please!” as I scrambled to fold the paper and shove it back into the envelope, wrapping the blue ribbon around it and making an attempt at a decent bow. I jumped off the bed, swiftly wiping the tears from my swollen eyes and red cheeks as I walked to the door. I glanced through the peephole and saw a thin, frail, young woman with long black hair, and bright blue eyes. A crimson sweatshirt hugged her small frame, jeans gripped her legs, and I could see what appeared to be sandals on her feet. She was beautiful.
“Who is it?” I asked, genuinely curious as to who would be knocking on my door, and contemplating on why she was here.
“My name is Evelyn,” she replied, her voice quiet and gentle. “I left something in the hotel room I think.”
It took every bit of remaining strength I had to keep the emotional waterfall from starting again. I slowly opened the door. She smiled, and the hurt was apparent to me in her face, her mouth, her eyes. I smiled at her, hoping she wouldn’t recognize mine. I turned and pointed at the ivory envelope on the corner of the bed. I nearly choked on my words, but managed to ask her if that was what she was looking for.
She nodded. “Yes, that’s mine. I left it by accident.”
I walked back to the bed, picked up the ivory envelope, and handed it to her. When she reached for it, the sleeve of her sweatshirt lifted just enough for me to notice a small, black tattoo of a semicolon on the side of her wrist.
She smiled again. “Thank you. I appreciate it.” She began to turn and walk out of the doorway.
“Somebody cares,” I whispered, unsure as to whether or not my comment would upset her, or cause more harm than good.
She stepped out of the room, turned to me, and with a genuine smile whispered, “Thank you.”
I saw her blue eyes light up, right before she turned from me and began to walk down the hotel hallway. I watched her cautiously from the doorway for a moment. She walked in a line close to the wall, and when she reached the trashcan sitting on the right several yards down, I watched her casually toss the ivory envelope into oblivion.