Collection of Gavin Kissling's Writing

Green Envelopes

The mailman woke early, even by the farmer’s standards. The sun was still dreaming of his daily stroll when the mailman was out the door, wandering down to the office. He unlocked it and grabbed the bag sitting on his desk. It was old leather,  and a couple of the seams seemed like they were about to split, but he wouldn't hear of replacing it. It was prepacked, like always, with a deep green note of instructions in the front pocket. He glanced through quickly. Only had a few stops this time. Might even be done by three, he mused. Maybe he’d grab a drink or two. That’d be nice. He didn't get out much, anymore. Not since his Pop had died and left him a couple hundred dollars, his mailbag, and the job. He didn't mind the work so much- he'd been learning the job since he was little, but he did wish that he'd have a little more time to himself. But between his job and the repairs that always seemed to pop up when he was home- his fence was practically rotten, and some punk had broken his window with a baseball yesterday- he hadn't had much time for socialization. A shame, that, but it's all in the line of duty. The mail must come first, afterall.

His first stop was the church, of course. Same as always. The priest always had a few letters from out of town, from leaders of bigger congregations and townsfolk who'd left. A few more from some Methodist kids who'd gotten lost on tour, a couple from a Catholic priest that had stayed for a week or so, and some from a mosque or two that had members with relatives in town. The priest sent out more of the same. The mailman checked the note. Oh, he’d almost forgotten! He pulled a letter in a green envelope and a tack from the front pocket of his pack and pinned it to the town notice board. OK, that should just about do it. He adjusted the note one more time, making sure that the address lime- TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: you know who you are!- was clearly visible, and headed back to his route.

The next package needed some special instructions. It was a carefully wrapped package from the library, heavy and rectangular, with directions to be placed in the alley behind the movie theater, awaiting pickup. The mailman took a moment to survey the alleyway- no one there. He almost decided that he had the wrong address, but he hadn't broken from the green notes since he first got the job. Doing what they said was practically habit at this point. He pushed the package down the alley and banged on one of the walls. As he turned, he heard something move in the dark. Guess someone was waiting, after all.

He was on to what passed for the residential district, now. This is where most of his bag went, dispensing packages and letters to dilapidated houses and residents with wide, toothless grins. Most everyone was there to receive their mail; same time every day, despite him not owning a watch. To the mailman, there never seemed to be a need for the exact numbers. But regardless, he was always at the blue house by the end of Solace Street at exactly 2:27, habitual routing and instinctual hurrying or dawdling, as the situation called for, during his lunch break leading to absolute consistency.

He delivered a package and a letter in a green envelope to a house with a fence practically eaten through by mold and a shattered window. No one was home, so he left it on the doorstep.

He delivered a green envelope to a house entirely painted red. Dark brick shades for the outside, bright tomato for the door, and- from what he could see when the lady who, he presumed, lived there (who was, bizarrely, dressed entirely in lime green) opened the door, the insides were covered in velvets and magentas. The lady invited him to sit and enjoy a cup of tea. The mailman wondered if she’d dyed the tea red as he walked away.

He delivered a green envelope to a house that smelled of mildew. The walls were carpeted with yellowing wallpaper with a fringe of mold, adorned periodically with amateurly mounted animal heads and pictures of men, women, and children lifting fish as big as they were. The owner snatched the letter from his hand and eyed him shiftily. The mailman decided it was best to be on his way before the unfortunate symptom of trespassing in rural America shot him in the back. 

His route was almost done. The last bit he never needed instructions for, but he read through his note regardless, like he did everyday. He sighed, and took the long road up to the pond. It wasn’t really the pond that he was concerned with, but the farmhouse that sat on the hill nearby. When he arrived at the door, the old man inside was murmuring on the other side of the door. Don’t worry, I’ll be there in a second. Old bones, you know. It’s fine, the mailman said. I’m here with your letters. Oh, thank you, the old man said. Like he hadn’t been receiving his letters at the same time for the past few years. What a wonderful young man, he said, like he always did. Could you do me a favor? Sure, the mailman said. Whatever you need. The farmer grinned, stained dentures bared. Can you feed my chickens? I try to get out to do it, but it’s such an awful walk. Sure, the mailman said. I got it.

The box of feed hadn’t been replaced or refilled in a long time- not since he had first taken the job. The kernels had begun to mildew, and there were at least two families of spiders fighting for territory. He thought he’d spotted a third, but he wasn’t so certain. Regardless, he took a scoop and tossed it into the chicken coup, swinging the door quickly to mask the cloying smell of fungi and rot. There, that wasn’t so bad. And now he was done. A bit too late to go out, especially if he wanted to wake up on time for the next morning. 

When he got home, he kicked through his old fence and pulled the blinds down behind his broken window. I probably should go get those punks' parents to pay for repairs, he thought, like he had every other day since he came home to find it broken. He rifled through his mail- he’d gotten a package today! He set the box aside for another day when he wasn’t quite as tired, shoved the letter into the front pocket of his bag, and headed back up to the office to lock up.


A Poem for You

Let me write a poem for you,

Something brilliant, beautiful and true.

I could be bold,

Sweeping away all the old

Ways of life and ways to think,

Burying them in paper and ink.

I could be pretty,

Write something bright, write something cheery.

I could leave smiles and laughter behind,

Write how flowers bloomed and the sun shined.

I could write something with sorrow,

Mourning all our missed tomorrows

For when we leave this rotating sphere,

Write what we miss when we aren’t here.

There are so many beautiful poems and rhymes,

But before I write, I need to make up my mind.


Against Eternity

There is magic in this world. It's subtle, gentle ripples that can seem meaningless at first, but it’s there, pushing us to be who we can. And I hope you find some in the ramblings of a teen you may never have looked twice at outside this room, if only for a moment.

Once, there was a single bronze fly, a tiny Colossus, like that of Rhodes, dancing through the air in a dizzying spiral that no invention of mortal hand can match. It will die in a week, just another speck of life vanishing to time's relentless pace. But for a moment, it is noticed. For a moment, someone marvels at the speed and skill the insect treats as commonplace, the only thing it's ever known, as it spins around the leaves of a rosebush. For a single moment, the beauty of the insect and in the way it weaves dazzles and bewilders the one who watched. But only for a single moment, before it vanishes into the leaves. And so too does it vanish into the dark corners of my memory, a note in a page in a journal that I may never read again. But while that moment held, it was enchantment distilled. Pure magic in the way it swooped and swerved, the gold of the sun draped around it like ceremonial armor, the practical turned to something fantastical. But even that golden sun shall one day burn out, collapsing under the weight of its own significance. And the ancient trees will rot, clutching to their indifference, and the stone's magnificence will wear away. And all our great wonders, our Pyramids and our Collusi, our temples and attempts to find meaning, our great gardens, sanctuaries of life, our repositories  of knowledge and our beacons that call sailors home will vanish under the inevitable rush of time. Nothing will be left behind. But for a moment, for a single, glorious moment, standing against eternity, we can be seen. We can be the spectacle that sends ripples through this world, and we can be glorious, if only for a moment. We can be magic. The magic of a single fly seen by a single person in a single moment before it vanished into the rose bush.

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