“Just throw the damn things away.”
Easy for Ness to say. I bit back the urge to yell at her, but the restaurant patio was too crowded with sun seekers shaded by umbrellas, drinks in hand, emptying them quickly before the balmy summer heat melted away their ice cubes.
“They’re practically evidence. I can’t.”
Never would I have thought pieces of paper held so much control over my life. However, they did more damage in the shoebox in the back of my closet than if the bastard just showed up on my doorstep.
“Sophie,” Ness leaned over the table and placed a hand over mine, the contact making me tense. “You may not be able to stop Donovan from sending the postcards, but you can control how they affect you. Throwing them out is just another step from showing him you’re not his anymore and that you couldn’t give a holy hell about the creep.”
If it wasn’t for the fact that Ness was right, I would’ve slapped her, but everything she said was bang on and I was too much of a coward to do anything. “I tried to make him stop…
“I know,” Ness cajoled.
We sat and stared through our sunglasses at each other at an impasse we had reached a handful of times over the last few years since “the creep” began sending the postcards. Since Ness was my best friend, she wouldn’t give up on me, but I just wanted Him to go away and pretend I’d never loved him.
“You need to date again,” Ness finally broke the tension and sipped her pina colada through a straw. The sunglasses didn’t hide the fact I knew Ness saw my eyes roll at the prospect. “Not all guys are stalker freaks. There are actually a few good ones left if you allowed them to get past “hello”.”
“I don’t need a man when I haven’t got rid of the last one yet. And I tried that, if you remember. All it did was get me another damn postcard and the date that sucked worse than a funeral.”
Without fail, on birthdays, holidays, first days, bought my new car and once when I had a paper published in the school newsletter, I would get a postcard. Donovan’s way of saying he’s still around, following the events of my life and never far from the neighbouring shadows watching my every move.
Never anything written on it, yet always the same postcard, the same picture of those old red phone booths from the UK as his way of refusing to allow me to forget the trip we had taken to London with Ness and some college friends in our second year. A perfect trip in a time when everything fit nicely in the ‘Couldn’t Be Better’ category.
Until Donovan’s true anger and possessiveness reared its ugly head in a blow-out that left me heartbroken and battered in every intrusive manner, answering police questions with mascara streaked, bloodshot eyes and Ness screaming bloody revenge. Donovan was kicked out of school and served his too short stint in jail, and on my first birthday after his release, the postcards started coming. There was no mistaking who they were from, but nothing could done as Donovan was too careful for fingerprints and nothing was written. The law needed something to prosecute and they weren’t enough.
“Maybe he won’t be able to find us here. We’re almost two hours away from home since we’ve moved. You didn’t leave a forwarding address. We won’t even have mail delivered to the apartment.”
Food brought in by our smiling waitress ended the conversation, it easily dropped as I didn’t have it in me to argue nor the optimism Ness forced. Ordering some refills on our drinks the waitress left as I dug into my BLT using my full mouth as reason for the silenced table. The toasted bread went down roughly and I was glad when the waitress returned with our drinks and greedily sucked down what I could without embarrassing myself.
“Oh,” the waitress turned back to the table as she had moved to leave. “A guy at the bar told me to give you this. He’s totally hot. Is he your boyfriend?”
Both myself and Ness froze as the waitress held out the postcard, its red phone booth mocking me as the waitress muttered something my defended ears couldn’t comprehend and Ness began yelling and ran toward the bar then back when she couldn’t find him, the waitress apologizing without understanding why as, no doubt, the whole patio had turned to the watch the spectacle.
Two hours of distance, a new job, an apartment under someone else’s name, years of non-contact…nothing stopped Him. And every time, just like the one now in front of me discarded on the edge of table, the postcard evoked fear, dread, despair and an ultimate emptiness that this has become my life. No matter the happiness I find, the excitement of new adventures or the prospect of future successes, I’m only a postcard away from the decimation of it all.
“Just throw the damn things away.”