The thunk of the mail slot opening and banging shut was always one of the most satisfying and exciting sounds I ever heard. It foretold of unopened letters, fresh magazines, the occasional flyer, and sometimes the odd piece of mail that had been delivered to the wrong house.
If I made it in time, I could see the whole wad of it being jammed through by some invisible hand. Sometimes I thought the mailman was done only to be surprised when an extra piece of mail fluttered through the slot, lagging behind its friends. Then the slot would bang shut for the last time that day and the mailman’s heavy footsteps would grow fainter and fainter as he continued on to the next house and the next.
There was never anything for me. I liked to sift through the mail, to see who the letters were addressed to, to try to figure out what secrets the envelopes contained. But they were never addressed to me. I always hoped, always dreamed of seeing my name scrawled in ink across the rectangular piece of paper, but I never really expected it.
It was in this frame of mind that I tumbled to the foyer, pulled by the clang of the metal slot hitting the door. It was a brisk winter day. Outside, the sky was turning from blue to white as clouds spread overhead. The weathermen had forecast a blizzard; I could hardly wait. I ran down the final steps, stopping short in front of the door.
The mailman had already left; the pile of mail lay scattered at my feet. I dropped to my knees and settled into a more comfortable position. I fanned the pieces of mail about me so that each one was visible. I reached for one but, even as my hand grazed the hard envelope, I let it go and caught another letter instead. One with my name scrawled front-and-center in flowing calligraphy. I took in the colorful stamp, but my eyes were drawn to the return address in the opposite corner.
I didn’t recognize the name or the place. I sounded them out, whispering; neither one rolled off my tongue easily. This excited me, filled me with a sense of adventure. Already I was imagining the exotic place that the author of this letter came from. Leaving the rest of the mail where it lay, I clutched this wondrous envelope to my chest and drifted towards the window. Outside, it had started to snow.