Image: A washed-out aerial photo of a strip of beach and tall, glinting metal buildings. The ocean is dark blue and endless. In hot pink, Greetings from Paradise.
Inscription: Esme, my darling, how I wish you were here with me in this heavenly sunshine. I know how much you miss summers on the beach, how it’s been ages since you’ve dipped your toes into a mild blue ocean. If only that silly boss of yours would give you more time off (since you had to use all your sick time visiting Mother), you could have spent the entire weekend with me sipping margaritas in the sand. No matter, I’ll bring back some ocean in a cup—if you’re lucky, even one of those tiny jellyfish, the ones that wiggle like wet contact lenses between your fingers but barely sting.
Signed: Your loving wife, Marie
Image: A too-bright photo of snow dusting the top of high stretching pines, a snow-covered mountain sloping up to a sharp peak against a nauseatingly cloudless blue sky. In center, a light wooden lodge with red skis leaning against its paneling. In jagged yellow, Aspen, Colorado.
Inscription: Esme, it has been too long since we’ve last spoke, and barely a day goes without me thinking of you and your beautiful wife. I’m in the mountains this weekend and the recent snowfall makes everything so bright it stings, but I love the crunch of fresh snow beneath my boots. You know all about that though, you’re in the mountains more than anyone with your cross-country skiing. You’ve won several medals, right?
I’m sorry to hear of Mother’s passing. It’s got to be difficult to be forgotten bit by bit by the only person to ever love you, unconditionally. At least you have your wife there with you. At least you didn’t have to go through such a death alone.
I remembered recently that time we got drunk on little sour Irish cream coffees and stole those purple flower boxes off your neighbor’s front steps. I always laugh when I think of us running across their front yard, barefoot and crouched with the boxes tucked under our armpits.
We should get together for coffees again sometime soon. You’re the only one who can really make me laugh.
Signed: Kisses, your long-time friend, Jean
Image: A yellow, almost green tinted water rippling in front of a city skyline. Skyscrapers jumble together, painted in greens, yellows, and brick reds against a soft pink sunset. In black calligraphy, Just arrived in New York.
Inscription: My dearest daughter Esme. I am writing from the balcony of my hotel suite. It is cold and I can barely feel my fingers, but the air is as refreshing as an afternoon with you. It could only be more perfect if you and Mother were here. Since Friday, I’ve visited all the necessary museums: the Elevator Historical Society, the Museum of American Finance, and even the Waterfront Barge Museum. It reminds me of when Mother and I took you on holidays as a girl to those museums along the eastern coast, how you’d press up against the glass, read every label, and could repeat back the function of any object we’d seen on command. A child genius. That natural photographic memory must be what makes you the best receptionist in the Midwest.
You would have loved all the numbers, and the trinkets, and the tools, the whirring and the order and the cleanliness. Visitors aren’t allowed to touch anything, just peer into the glass and read the little inscriptions that describe each piece’s function, it’s use throughout time. It reminds me of us, a little. How we’re perfect and whirring and then one day, we’re not.
I will recount all the details when I see you again. Stop thinking of Mother.
Signed: Be well, Father
Image: A soft black night with a singular sparkling star in the center. On the left, a purple 1940s style drive-in sign with bright lights twinkling around alternating blue and white text, Greetings from the Point of Singularity. On the bottom right in lavender bold, Wishing you were here, instead of me.
Inscription: Esme, my darling, my perfect only daughter (if I don’t count Helena, but of course, I never do). I write of the stars, to the stars, or from the stars—either way they’re bright and beautiful and quickly fading out. I’ve never been to the Goddard Space Center in Maryland, I saw this postcard at an antique store and I just couldn’t resist—it’s so perfectly us.
I need to thank you for visiting me in the hospital. Even though Helena lives closer, she only visited once like the ungrateful sister she is, making you travel all this way when I won’t remember it anyway. I need to apologize for everything, but mostly I was wrong to say you were too dull for that job in reception. I was wrong to say you looked quite ugly in that dress you wore to your sister’s wedding last summer; I was wrong to write you out of my will.
Do I love you? I always have. Will I forget you? I never could.