The pile of mail seemed overwhelming as I pulled it out of my little box in the mail room. I set the pile on the counter and double checked to make sure I had not dropped anything. As I started to sift through, tossing the junk mail that I did not need to trudge upstairs, a postmark from Boston caught my eye. I looked at the return address; the last name was my Grandmother’s maiden name and the first name sounded familiar. I racked my brain to try to remember the relation… third cousin, second? I placed the envelope on the top of the pile and headed up the six flights of stairs to my apartment. The high rise had two elevators but I had vowed to make healthier lifestyle choices as my New Year’s resolution and using the stairs was one of my choices. I had inadvertently lost 20lbs over the last eight months and was now smaller than when I had graduated high school eight years ago.
The six flights of stairs barely even winded me these days unless I was carrying up one too many bags of groceries. Tonight I almost went past my floor as I imagined what was inside the letter on top of my pile of mail. I was certain that it must contain bad news or at least a family secret, I honestly could not think of one positive that the envelope could contain. Questions overwhelmed me: Why did he write instead of call or e-mail? How did he get my address? How is he related? Why did my Grandmother, or whoever gave him this address, fail to mention that this estranged relative had asked about my contact information. By the time I got to my door I was no longer as concerned about the letter as I was about how easily this man had found where I live. I burst into the apartment so fast I startled my cockatoo who squawked at me impatiently as I rushed to my computer. I pulled up the internet and typed my name into Google, nothing. I leaned back, slightly relieved. Then the bird squawked again, bringing me out of my trance. I jumped up, mumbling my apologies to Saddie, my cockatoo, as I threw her a treat and retraced my steps to lock my front door and pick up the strange letter. I tore it open and read with apprehension:
I am sure this letter comes as a surprise, as we have not seen each other in some years. Our grandmothers are sisters but I’m afraid my location has prevented me from attending many of our family events over the years.
It is extremely pertinent that you make your way to Boston, I have enclosed plane tickets for a flight that leaves 72 hours after this arrives. I hope this gives you enough time to notify your employer and make any other necessary arrangements. I am sorry for the haste but the matter is extremely important.
There will be a chauffeur awaiting your arrival at Logan International.
The letter was handwritten and seemed to be more of a demand than a request. There was no number or contact information other than the tickets that were mentioned. I examined it and realized it was a one-way ticket and it was indeed for a flight that would leave in approximately 72 hours.
As the plane descended in Boston I had trouble coming to terms with the fact that this was real, I was not dreaming. I had taken vacation time and told my boss that it was a family emergency, and it might be. Thankfully a neighbor two floors up was willing to watch Saddie for me. My thoughts were interrupted by the flight attendant announcing our arrival; “Welcome to Boston, where the local time is 5:43 PM and it is currently 56°F,” my own thoughts drowned out the flight attendant as I thought, “and you may find buried treasure.”