The Proof is in the Post (HTML)

Dear Whitney,

Shit. Shit! Even that’s not safe. I mean, obviously what  I really mean is “Dearest Whitney, the light of my life and the stars  in my sky, who makes my life worth living.” And the post office imps  will make sure it says that when she opens it up and reads it. And then  she’ll never speak to me again. Argh.

OK, but no, I’m being paranoid. Calm down, Karen. Keep writing.

I  hope you will accept this invitation to attend an all-night movie  marathon at my home on Saturday, February 4th, starting at 5:00 PM and  continuing until we run out of movies. Bring a sleeping bag and your  favorite pajamas. My parents have left us pizza money and a Costco-sized  case of frozen breakfast burritos.

Hold  on. Reality check. Do normal teenagers invite each other over for  sleepovers, or did they outgrow this shit by the time they hit double  digits? After that, doesn’t “sleepover” become a euphemism, for, you  know, sleeping together? Especially  considering the line about my parents. She’s going to open this up and  read “the coast is clear, we can make out all night long and nobody will  catch us.” Because the post office imps know that’s what I’m hoping  for. I mean, aren’t I? I don’t know. This whole thing is terrifying. Thinking is terrifying. La la la la la I’m not thinking about anything especially not making out with anyone in particular.

Fourteen is a terrible age to develop a crush on your best friend.

Please  advise as to preferences regarding pizza toppings and favorite movies.  Anything you love, I bet I’ll love too. It is a truth universally  acknowledged that you have scintillating taste.

Seriously, why am I contemplating mailing her anything at all? Even actual couples don’t  mail each other letters until they’ve been dating for a while. It’s too  risky. New relationship energy does not mix well with truth, the whole  truth, and nothing but the truth. The most casual letter in the world  might wind up revealing that the sender is already designing wedding  invitations and naming their future grandchildren. Talk about awkward.

But I like her.  I want to do nice things for her. And she would get a kick out of a  formal invitation for something as silly as a movies and pizza  sleepover. She does shit like that all the time. Like, coming up to me  at the end of our eleven o’clock period and saying, all high-society  accent and snoot, “Darling Karen, won’t you accompany me to luncheon? I hear the chef does a marvelous Steak  à la Salisbury.” And then I get to walk to lunch hanging off her arm  and feeling like the luckiest girl alive, even though I know it’s just a  joke. Maybe if she knew how I felt about her, she’d stop making those  kinds of jokes. Wouldn’t want to lead me on. Or give me ideas.

Or maybe she would keep offering me her arm, and it wouldn’t be a joke anymore. Hey, I can dream.

I devoutly hope you will chuse to attend, or, should other duties make this impossible, be pleased to offer me a, how you say, rain check.

Besides,  what else am I going to use all this wildflower paper and teal-sparkle  ink for? It’s been kicking around in my desk since that segment of last  year’s state history class, waiting for something special enough to use  it up on. It’s not like in our great-grandparents’ time, when there was a  real vogue on for making your own paper and ink, not to mention  perfecting the idiosyncrasies of your handwriting. Back then, when the  post office imps first showed up, everyone panicked about Criminal  Elements Tampering With the Mail. They wanted to make it as difficult as  possible for rogue post officers to forge alterations to their letters.

But  now we know no one’s at fault, not even those nominal “post office  imps”—it’s just a cute term, lots easier to say than “automatic process  at work inside the post office that points to aspects of our world we  don’t understand yet.” No one believes actual tiny sentient demons are  infiltrating the post and editing letters for brutal honesty, except  maybe small children whose parents have just begun teaching them not to  lie. So there’s no fashionable cottage industry in paper-making or  ink-brewing anymore. That makes what I’m doing with this invitation special.

I  guess I could always just bike over to her house and drop the invite in  her mailbox, or even hand it to her at school. Make a big production  out of it, bow and present it to her and say “Message for you, my lady.”  She’d probably be delighted. But wouldn’t she wonder why I wasn’t  mailing it? Wouldn’t she suspect I was hiding something that the post  office imps would reveal? Because I totally would be.

In anticipation of a highly enjoyable weekend,

Only, I’m not one hundred percent sure what exactly I am hiding. Not exactly. I  mean, how much of what I’m feeling is true and how much is me just  being stupid and fourteen? How much do I really want, and how much do I  only think I want? Shit, I don’t know. I don’t even know what I don’t know.

Maybe the only way I’ll ever know is if I mail this letter and Whitney tells me what it says.

Your friend and not-so-secret admirer,

P.S. I’m so glad to have you in my life.
This has been the Friday Fictionette for January 26, 2017. It's also the Fictionette Freebie for the month, making the full-length fictionette (933 words) available for anyone to download from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook regardless of their pledge tier.

Cover art incorporates public domain images sourced from Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons.