January 24, 2009

Old News

Lucy: The man in a FedEx shirt and cap smiles. He lifts up a white box and shakes it lightly with one hand, holding out a plastic screen with a pen in the other. I open the screen the door and grab the pen, scribbling my name on the green screen – Lucy Malone.

As FedEx man turns back to his truck, I step out into the hazy sun. The street in front of our house looks wrinkled in the steam rising from the pavement. The small patch of grass that makes up our front yard is yellow-tipped and fried brown in some spots. It must already be 80 degrees.

I sit down on the top step of the porch and stretch my legs out in front of me, hoisting the package into my lap.

It's addressed to my mom, Bonnie Malone, but I tug the box's little cardboard tab anyway. And as soon as I open it, I know exactly what's inside. I can smell it – the musty scent of newspaper. Reaching inside, I pull out a stack of seven fat newspapers. The Hartford Courant. The same package came every Saturday – a week’s worth of papers from Connecticut. On top of the stack was a little yellow Post-It note:

Dear Bonnie: Another week has gone by, but unfortunately there hasn‘t been much excitement here in the newsroom. I had to cover a story about the Boy Scout Camporee last weekend – you know, I get all the breaking, hard-hitting stories. I wonder if I can still be considered a fledgling reporter at age 47. Oh well, my break will come. Hopefully yours will come too. All the best – John.

I pull the note off the stack of papers and stick it to my finger, waving it in the air like a tiny flag of surrender. Every week this stranger's notes seem to get a little more relaxed, a little more personal… Is he trying to flirt with my mother?

The sun is beating down on my bare shoulders. I can already see a light pink blush forming down my arms and across my kneecaps. Standing up, I gather the thick pile of papers into my arms… and as an afterthought, I crumble the tiny note into a ball and flick it off the steps into the bushes. Then I step back inside.

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