The postman parked his truck, shouldered his bag and began the trek down the line of houses on Seville Street, Greenbridge Bay. They were almost identical cinderblock houses, painted red to look like baked brick, lived in by a cornucopia of immigrants of varying financial stability, family size and ethnic origin, bound together by a common uncertainty. Among the residents, Seville Street was known as Lottery Row, a last stop with a last-ditch effort for undocumented visitors about to receive a one-way expulsion ticket to appeal and a first landing spot for refugees, asylum seekers, and folks just wanting to live in Greenbridge Bay because of the excellent schools and free enterprise.
Jay (that was the postman’s name) pulled out his stack of letters. He wondered if he could part with the green one today. Jay was in general an honest and upstanding citizen. The green letter had been his downfall. He pushed it down further in his bag and pulled out the stack of letters for the Ahmadzai family, dropped them in the box next to the large 23, and moved on to the Dutts. 25 Seville Street and he had just begun. He would go all the way down to 45, and then get the even-numbered houses on the opposite side of the street on his way back. The green letter weighed far less than the standard aerogram, but it felt like a weight in his bag. Well, he had a ways to go yet, before he really ought to part with it. He approached the home of Vanessa Swaray, the only person on this street who had lived there any length of time. In fact, she had lived there as long as Jay had delivered the mail, and that was going on fifteen years. But as Jay opened the flap he noticed the 2 and 7 hanging on the door moving a little and he found himself face to face with Vanessa herself. Jay was startled and stepped back, sinking his heel into the bed of tiny blue flowers just off the sidewalk. Vanessa had been friendly to him before but she had come out so suddenly and looked so large in the blue doorframe he couldn’t help but draw a quick breath.
Vanessa’s eyes narrowed, not in cruelty but in examination, like a thoughtful professor deciding whether “my computer crashed” was a legitimate excuse. “I know about the letter,” she said, not unkindly.
Jay’s fluttering heart fluttered a little faster and he opened his mouth. “What letter?” he heard himself say, though he knew it was useless. The flash in Vanessa’s eyes was enough to convince him she truly did know, but he said it anyways and she obligingly spelled it out to him.
“The green one,” she said. “The one that gleams and sparkles in the bottom of your bag every day, the one that has sat like a rock in there for the past three years. You can get your own, you know, but you really should give that one to the Battambang family. They’ve been waiting.”
Jay tried a different tack. “Great to see you today, Vanessa,” he said, extracting his foot from the flowerbed. “Here’s your mail.” Then he turned and walked on as if nothing had happened, his pace and gait saying nothing of the exchange that had just taken place or of the riot inside his head.