By Anne Bevan (from the Ireland’s Own Christmas Annual)
A poignant tale of a Christmas letter never sent, and another not received…
The postman pushed his bicycle up the rough track to the old cottage door, his head bent against the wind.
“Hello Mrs. Murphy, hardy day out,” he said to the lady sheltering behind the slightly open door.
“Come in, come in,” she said. “Will you have a cup of tea, ah you will, to warm you for the journey.”
He sat at the kitchen table, knowing he had no use refusing.
“It’s beginning to snow out there, I won’t stay long today,” he said.
Mrs. Murphy didn’t get many visitors these days; all the old ones were gone now. Still, she loved the wireless and the very rare letter she got from that son of hers in New York; that and the postman’s visits kept her going.
“There you are now,” she said, handing him the cup and saucer; she never used mugs, ruined a lovely cup of tea, she said.
“Have a biscuit Dermot,” she said, proffering the plate of USA biscuits.
“I’ve a letter for you to post, to Daniel in New York; I haven’t finished writing the address yet. Will you take it with you?”
“I will,” Dermot replied, sipping the scalding tea and feeling glad now that he had come in.
“Good, good,” she muttered to herself, as she pottered about the kitchen looking for a pen.
“These biros are no use, not like the old pens used to be, the last one leaked all over the table. It was ruined only for the oilcloth.”
Finishing his tea, Dermot stood up and blessed himself.
“I’ll collect that letter from you tomorrow Mrs. Murphy, I’m anxious to get home today, the baby is nearly due and Katy is a little nervous on her own,” he said.
“Okay Dermot,” she replied, “safe home.”
In the morning the snow had stopped and Dermot made his way in bright sunshine; he called to Mrs. Murphy. He knocked at the door and waited but there was no sign of the old woman.