For two weeks, the sun shone from early, early morn to long past when it had any right to still be up at all. Two solid weeks of sun. Our Town melted and oozed toward Solstice.
Throughout the spate of sun, general sprucing had ensued: wall colors brightened with paint, unruly lawns subdued by blades, rhubarb eradicated (or given lovingly to friends). Car hoods wore the confetti buds and seeds of whatever tree they parked under. Kids were visible in public during business hours. The Soupster, like most residents of Our Town, had been saying things like, “I can’t remember when it was sunny two weeks in a row like this.” Or “Remember, we used to get two weeks of sun like this two times every summer 10 (or 20 or 30) years ago” — depending on how long the speaker had been here.
Overdosed on light, the Soupster relished the quiet and relative dark coolness of the post office. It was Saturday morning and he had the place to himself. He fought a quick urge to stretch out on the cool floor tiles. Instead, he pulled out his key and fit it into the lock of his post office box. At the exact second the Soupster opened the box, a business-sized letter moved toward him out of it.
The Soupster grabbed onto the letter and pulled.. And the letter… pulled back! This was ridiculous! The Soupster pulled on the letter, but it refused to budge. The Soupster was actually losing ground.
He peered into the dark postal box and could see at the far end about two-fifths of the face of his old neighbor, Roberta, a long-time postal worker.
“Soupster,” Roberta said, seeing him at the same moment, “I should have known it was you!”
“Roberta,” said the Soupster. “I had forgotten that you work here. How’s your little girl?”
“My little girl? That ‘little girl’ is going to college in Fairbanks in the fall,” she said ruefully. “Why don’t you come to her graduation party? I was going to send you an invitation, but, hey — this is even faster than the mail!”
The two-week softening of the Soupster’s brain from sun rays and the general weirdness of having a conversation through a mailbox made the Soupster feel unsteady. Nonetheless, “Thanks for working on the weekend,” he managed to say.
“Oh, pshaw,” said Roberta, as the Soupster locked up his postal box.
“Soupster,” said Stuart, the Soupster’s plumber, who was just then turning the corner into the row of post office boxes. “You talking to your mail again?”
“Female,” the Soupster deadpanned. “Female.”