The Forgotten Mailbox

Hello everyone! Time once again for another Christmas tale. I hope you enjoy the story.

Hope everyone finds themselves in a joyful holiday season, and that 2009 brings only good things.

– John


Once Upon a time, perhaps, it was a thriving neighborhood, with bakers and bankers and businessmen, gangs of happy children, ice cream trucks, and sparkling dreams. But that was long ago. Now, it is mostly abandoned, and those who stay only stay for a brief time. They go either to better or worse places.

There’s a phone booth which hasn’t had a dial tone since the 70’s or earlier. There’s an old car that’s melted into the street and seems to float on cracked asphalt like an iceberg. There’s a mailbox which has not been on any postman’s route for as long as the postmaster himself has been alive.

And there’s a girl–we’ll call her Sue–who writes a simple letter to Santa. Sue’s a quiet girl, and has moved with her parents so frequently she barely knows her own name.

The letter says:

Dear Santa, Please send me a doll and a friend.

When she goes to drop it in the box, there’s a boy–we’ll call him Joe. “Ain’t nobody ever sends letters through that box no more,” he says.

“Why not?”

“No one to pick ‘em up. No one to deliver ‘em. So no one ever gets what you send.”

“Some things get sent no matter who picks them up,” she tells him, showing that the letter is addressed to Santa at the North Pole.

“That’s all fun and games,” Joe says, “but that’s more a rustbox than a postbox anymore, and no one’s gonna get your letter, not even the Big Guy himself. Anyway, look around you, we’re right at the heart of nowhere. No one comes here who ain’t lost.”

“I’m not lost,” she tells him.

“And anyways,” Joe adds, “Christmas is tomorrow.” You wouldn’t know it, not there, as no lights decorate the street, no tinsel hangs from any tree, and no trees have made it into the cramped little apartment holes.

“He’ll get it,” Sue stubbornly says. “And he’ll come.”

The mailbox doesn’t open easily, or soundlessly, but it opens, and she drops the unstamped envelope into the mailbox.

Next day, bright and early–because even in a place where dreams seem as forgotten as a rusty old abandoned mailbox, children rise early–Sue rushes to the street corner. Her parents had given her something small and practical, like socks, and something for each of them–and one of those things is the seed of hope though they don’t yet know it. Sue rushes to the box thinking perhaps something might’ve been left for here there. She finds Joe.

“Morning,” he says, grinning. It’s the way he’s always grinned, in all the hours she’s known him.


“So, did the Big Guy come?” Joe asks.

“I got socks,” she tells him.

“I got underwear.”

“That’s useful,” she says.


“Anything else?” she asks. He shakes his head. Sue frowns, because socks are nothing like a doll. She climbs onto her tiptoes and opens the squeaky mailbox, but the slot is too narrow and the insides too dark. She sees nothing.

“I’m sorry,” Joe says. “I know I said he wouldn’t come, and he didn’t, but I really wish he did.”

She lets the box slam shut, and the bottom half–the locked bit, from which the postmen of old would’ve collected the mail–that bottom half swings open a mere quarter inch. It’s enough to stop Joe. It’s enough to pique their interest. It’s enough to make Sue open the forgotten mailbox. The shadows inside are deep, and drip like syrup, and it’s hard to see through the gloom and the spider webs and the dry, cough-filled air. The dust finally settles to reveal two bright packages. One’s green, and labeled Joe. The red one says Sue.

Joe opens his present. It’s an old book, in fair condition, its spine crinkled but the title and author clear. If this was Joe’s story, you’d understand why it wets his eyes with tears, and why he’ll treasure that paperback for the rest of his life.

Sue opens hers. It’s a doll. She doesn’t know it yet, but it’s just like the doll her mom had when she was Sue’s age, and it may in fact be the very same doll. But it’s a smiling doll, and a smiling Sue, and a smiling if tearful Joe. With great care and no small bit of reverence, Sue closes the mailbox door, and checks to see that it’s locked itself once again. She whispers so that only the forgotten mailbox can hear, and says, “Thank you.”

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