|Influences||Maggie Stiefvater, Terry Pratchett, N. K. Jemisin, J. R. R. Tolkien|
|Bio||Wen is a fiction writer based in Sydney, Australia. She is originally from New Taipei, Taiwan. When she’s not writing, she can be found on volleyball courts, by the sea, obsessing over B99 and FRIENDS, or wandering in worlds of magic, faeries, dragons and mystical creatures.|
Lost, Gone and In-between
Did you know that fourteen point four million letters were lost in the mail every year?
A businessman’s promise to his daughter. An acceptance letter from a song-writing competition. A long apology, hoping to start anew, to forgive and forget.
Meanwhile, a girl waited with her school bag still on, her legs swinging listlessly from the railing she perched upon. She had been doing this for weeks under the tropical sun. The mailman arrived on the stuttering scooter, saw her, and had nothing to offer other than a sad smile.
‘Sorry, kid. Maybe next time.’
Each time, she tried to smile back. He left. When she took the steps to her house, her pigtails no longer bounced as they did before.
Miles away, a young artist crumpled up the last of his paper, placing the guitar into its case and pushed it into the back of the storage room in his parents’ house. Time to move out.
Four streets down, a woman in pyjamas stared at her telephone, the cappuccino in her hand long cold, dirty dishes piling up in the kitchen sink.
Beating all odds, this letter found its way to me.
Liz chucked the envelope onto my desk when she returned from her grocery trip.
‘It’s for you,’ she said.
I stared. ‘Who even writes letters anymore?’
Liz shrugged, and I’m reminded that we weren’t on talking terms. This was what you got when you put two people in the same room for too long. I could feel her gaze on me, however, as I tore open the envelope. Nonchalance wasn’t in her nature.
'Dear Andie,' the letter wrote. 'You might not know me. My name is Jake. I’m your brother.'
My brain tripped over the last sentence. What?
'You probably know that our parents separated when you were very young. Judging from how mad mother was when she left with you that day, I’m guessing there’s a slim chance that she’s even told you about me and dad. You would’ve reached out if you knew…right?'
Maybe, maybe not, my mind responded, still reeling from disbelief. I’d never know.
I tried to ask mum about dad once when I was twelve. Mum had the afternoon off work that day, so we decided that we’d do a Lord of the Rings movie marathon together. We’d carried back two armfuls of Cheetos and Oreos for the occasion. The lazy afternoon stretched onto the couch, lighting the room in a soft glow. The air smelled of coffee. Lots of it. As far as mum was concerned, everything went with coffee.
‘Yeah?’ Her gaze was fixed on the screen as the Riders of Rohan galloped in her black-rimmed spectacles.
‘What was dad like?’
She froze. Warmth seeped out of the room and tension slipped into its place.
‘We’re not talking about your father.’
Mum whirled on me.
‘I don’t remember anything, and the photos? I burned them,’ mum hissed, the alarming light in her eyes dared me to challenge her. ‘I burned everything.’
And that was that.
I shook away the memory with more force than necessary and read on.
'You’re probably wondering why I’m only reaching out now. Truth to be told, I managed to pinpoint where you and mother were a few years back. I don’t know what stopped me. I was scared, I guess, for some reason.
Dad was on another one of his business trips in Europe when the borders closed on him. I was staying in the dorms at my university as I am now, and it suddenly occurred to me that if anything happened to dad, I would have had no one left. It was a terrifying thought.
It served me good, though, as it’s why I’m sitting in front of my desk in the middle of the night, writing to you.
There’s a chance that this letter is going to get lost anyhow, with the chaos that’s going around. There’s a chance that you may never get to read this. And if that’s the case…I hope you get this letter.
I had to try. You would do the same if you knew, wouldn’t you? Father never talks about mum or you. The two of them are more alike than they’ll ever admit.
I just wanted you to know, well, I’m here, in this crappy dorm of mine if you ever want to talk about anything. I won’t expect you to write back but…I hope you do.
I grabbed and flipped my laptop open in a frenzy and typed in the name on the envelope into Facebook’s search engine. San Diego, California. I pulled up the profile.
There he was. I know it was him because he had mum’s secret smile—inward, soft delight—and our sea-green eyes, they matched the vast Pacific behind him. If that hadn’t tipped me off, the White Tree of Minas Tirith on his T-shirt definitely did the trick. The Pacific stretched towards the horizon, towards the other side of earth—to me.
I clicked on the chatbox. I hesitated, wondering what mum would think of this. That brief moment was gone as soon as it came, replaced by a trembling flame of feeling. She’d keep this from me no longer.
Hey, I typed and waited, fingers cold and face hot.
Dots appeared. Andie?
I let out a breath. Yeah
u found me
and here I was expecting a letter lol
I couldn’t risk it getting lost in mail.
Dots appeared, disappeared, appeared.
‘Who is it?’ Liz asked, finally giving in.
The smile on my face must’ve had melted away some years of not-knowing, of guessing and tossing and turning in bed on sleepless nights.
'My brother,’ I said.
The old knot in my chest unravelled. Just a bit.