Every year when I get the boxes of decorations down from the loft I wonder about the mysterious Christmas card that arrives addressed to a woman called Mavis Lockheart. I’ve tried my very best over the years to find out who Mavis Lockheart is, but no one has ever heard of her. She wasn’t the previous owner, or the one before that, and I even went so far one year to ask all the elderly neighbours whether they could remember anyone who had lived here by that name. The answer was a big fat no and the mystery continues.
There was no return address, so the first year I left the large envelope with loopy handwriting unopened on the little table in the hallway, where the downstairs telephone, the pot for keys and various other odds and ends are, in the hope that someone would come to claim it. It sat there for the weeks running up to Christmas and well into the new year. By the end of January I realized that no one was going to come and claim it, so I stashed it away with all my other correspondence.
The second year I did the same, but by the third year my curiosity was getting the better of me and I could no longer leave that envelope unopened. I slid my silver letter opener under the flap of the envelope like a thief in the night and in one clean sweep it was open. Afterwards I wondered whether I should have used steam from the kettle like you see them doing on the television, but we’re all wise in hindsight, aren’t we? For weeks I was worried that Mavis Lockheart would come to claim it and I would have to admit to my crime. There was a short message from a Dorothy, enquiring about Mavis, her black and white pet cat and her brother Arnold. Dorothy’s husband, Thomas, was still working, but hoping to retire in the next couple of years. I had been right: it was an older woman. I had guessed as much by the handwriting and had suspected that Mavis was a woman of around the same age. I asked around the neighbours again, this time asking about the brother Arnold as well. Mr. Peterson, at the far end of the road, thought that something rang a bell, but he couldn’t put a finger on what. ‘I’ve got such a terrible memory, these days,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there’s no grain of truth in what I’ve just said at all.’
But no one came to claim it that year, the year after or any year for that matter.
Every year when I take down the Christmas decorations – by January 6th, of course – I take Mavis Lockheart’s card and stow it away, wrapping it up with a Christmas ribbon along with the all the others. My husband tells me I’m overly sentimental, not to mention silly, keeping them. Over the years I’ve learned that Dorothy’s husband, Thomas, has passed away and now she lives alone. I can only begin to wonder at Mavis’ life. I really wish I could get in touch with either of them as in some respects they have come to feel almost like friends. But the most likely case is that these Christmas cards, along with their lives, will always remain a mystery.
©2013 Laura Besley
Flash Fiction Diary
This is the first of my NaNoWriMo_2013 pieces to see the light of day. It was inspired by a friend's post on facebook; she had received a Christmas card addressed to someone and she didn't know who it was.
This will be my last post of 2013, so I'd like to wish you all happy holidays and all the best for 2014.