He had not been expecting a letter. He was expecting a phone call, although it was possible that a simple text message would bring him the news he was awaiting. A phone call would have been nice, providing a personal touch, but also opening up the possibility of awkward moments and silences. God, how he hated those awkward moments and silences. It sometimes felt like his whole waking life was comprised of awkward moments and silences, interspersed with desperate attempts at meaningful interaction that invariably led to more awkward moments and silences. Yes, a text message would have been better. Short and to the point, text messages allowed him to suffer in silence with no words needing to be spoken. The silence after a text message has always been all his, with no awkwardness about it. He was able to just sit with his thoughts in blessed silence, no need to reply, acknowledge, or even breathe.
Emails had been tougher for him. He was all too aware that sometimes people get acknowledgements when you open their email. He would often stare for hours at a new email, ruminating about whether or not to open it, whether or not to show his hand. The tension was often palpable, culminating with sweat running down his temple, dripping onto his arm. He would often watch as the beads of sweat traced their way down his arm, headed for the hand that controlled his computer mouse. He often thought that if a bead of sweat made it to the mouse that would be the sign he needed to open the email. But that never happened. A slight muscle movement in his arm or hand was always enough to divert the sweat droplet to the table, pre-mouse.
He definitely had not been expecting a letter. It had been years since he had received something that qualified as a real letter. Sure, he had received business letters offering to buy his house, sealcoat his driveway, or provide him the best cable television package money can buy. But a real letter from a real person? Years. Why was this in letter form when a call, text, or email would do? He never wanted to receive a letter again.
He took his letter opener and spun it in his hands with the tip pressing into his finger as he pondered the letter. Then he felt the blade, dull and lifeless, capable of slicing through creased paper at best. He knew a knife would do a better job and he walked into the kitchen to get his carving knife. He used this knife for just about every job in the kitchen, and he knew it would do a fine job here. It was definitely sharp. He ran his finger along the edge of the blade until he could see the skin on his finger start to separate just ever so slightly and a drop of blood rise to the surface. It tasted sweet and warm. One hand held the ubiquitous letter while the other rested the knife blade on the wrist of the hand that held the letter. He was not sure how much time had passed since he had gotten the mail. It may have only been a few minutes, but it quite possibly had been a few hours or even days. Time passed quickly for him when faced with such a dilemma like an unexpected, unopened letter. It was decision time and one swift stroke of the blade was all that was needed. And then it was done.