by DSM - The Violet Eyed Devil
I know the day not by the calendar on my desk, not by the daily morning radio show that insists on waking me up ten minutes before I am sure I set my alarm, not even by the small little window on my watch that reads 'Tues' in tiny little neon blue letters. I'm sure my paper has the day emblazoned on its first page, but I barely glanced at it this morning as I dashed out my front door, a piece of jam toast dangling from my lips and my cup of coffee clinking together with my keys.
No... I know it's Tuesday because he's sitting there... just like every other Tuesday. And just like every other Tuesday he isn't looking at the road as I walk along down the path, bag slung over my shoulder and cap resting jauntily on my head. A cup of coffee... black, two sugars...is settled by his side and a book is nestled in his lap. What I thought was a brown scarf the first day I walked this route, and what I latter realised was a long rope of braided hair, hangs over his shoulder... the tip gently brushing the pages of the book that I know he isn't reading.
And like all the other Tuesdays, he lifts his head to pin me with hopeful eyes... a shade that limbos somewhere between blue and purple... that slowly dim with that one usual shake of my head.
He stands in one fluid motion and walks, his feet pacing out a heartbeat across the cobbled stones of the path as he joins me at his letterbox.
"Mornin' Mr Maxwell."
"Hey, Steven. Nothing new today."
He states that not quite question every Tuesday, and every Tuesday, as I hand him the usual array of bills, junk mail, and personal mish mash, the flicker of heartbreak that flashes through his eyes is an almost tangile entity making this postman wish I was handing him the letter he is is waiting for.
He smiles his Tuesday smile... a rougish grin that speaks more of what he's trying to hide than what he's actually showing. I return my own smile, waving goodbye while he returns to his house with that same pace ploding in time with my saddened heart and I follow his swinging braid until it disappears behind his front door.
And then I move on again, already hoping that next Tuesday I will have the letter that he waits for and wondering why the sadness of this single man amongst the hundreds I'll see today touches me so. I know I'll be seeing that moment when hope is crushed for the rest of my route.
* * *
Another Tuesday and he's here again.
Hopeful eyes once again fall. Again those heavy steps bring him over to the letter box where I stand, holding out a fist full of letters and knowing not one of them are the one that will bring back that sparkle in his eyes... a sparkle Sheree says used to be there when he first moved into the house and had a place on her own route.
"Mornin' Mr Maxwell."
He doesn't ask and I know something is different this Tuesday. I catch his gaze and I understand... hope is fading after so long without food to feed it. I break my Tuesday routine... I just have to know what this man is breaking his heart over. Faint surprise crosses his features as I ask what brings him to the letter box to meet me every Tuesday... what brings him to my fellow postal workers every other day. A sad smile... more genuine than any Tuesday grin he has offered me before... creeps onto his lips and he shakes his head slightly.
"Waiting for something I'll probably never get," is the only explanation he gives before he bids me his usual goodbye and turns towards his house, braid once again swinging behind him. But this time, softly on the breeze I think I hear his voice whisper, snippets reaching my ears..."should say... goodbye... Heero..."
And once again I turn away and continue on my route, thoughts always occupied by the mystery behind Mr Maxwell's sad smile.
* * *
Something is different this Tuesday.
Nestled within the usual bills is a thin envelope and it's presence in my hand and head has already cause a strange mishap with a clumsy cyclist and a young man. A crashing of spokes and bike chain and a flurry of letters later and I am being helped up by a stoic looking young man. A flash of incredibly blue eyes and he's gone, leaving me to collect my letters and continue to wonder.
There's another letter for Mr Mawell.
It bears no return address... only a name and address printed in simple, functional script written on a crisp white envelope. I gape in wonder and hope that this is finally what my Tuesday morning man has been waiting for.
A smile crawls onto my lips and I miss ten houses just to rush it to Mr Maxwell's house as soon as possible.
I'm at his box again and nodding my head, waving the letter even before his eyes have a chance to meet mine and the life that action breathes into those eyes is worth the small amount of extra time it will take to double back and deliver the mail to the houses I skipped over.
He's at the box before I have chance to blink and holding the letter in reverent hands, simply gazing at the handwritten envelope with the purest expression of joy I will ever be blessed to see. I'm not sure he even cares what the envelope contains...the very presense of the script all he seems to want to see. He meets my gaze and I rejoice at what those violet eyes are telling me.
"Something extra today, Mr Maxwell." I can hear the joy in my own voice.
"Yes..." his voice is only a exhalation of breath and then he's heading back towards the house, tears shining in his eyes, his voice echoing one word back to me...
I stand, watching until the front door slams, deep satisfaction growing then settling within my chest. I know next Tuesday, I will have no Mr Maxwell waiting for me, no sad eyes haunting my route, no heartbreaking mystery left to be revealled.
I turn to double back with a lighter heart, and a chuckle at my weakness for happy endings with a soft "Goodbye" on my lips... only to stop once I reach the corner.
The strange young man with the brilliant blue eyes is leaning against the wall, watching me as I make my way down the street towards him... and with the final piece of puzzle clicking into place, I finally understand.
I stop before him, a quick jerk of my head towards the house I have just come from.
"He's been waiting for you."
The man nods. "I know."
And I offer him a smile and a slight wave as he walks past me towards Mr Maxwell's house and then continue on my route, a deep, soft voice reaching my ears as I do...
"Goodbye, Mr Postman."