The twelve stones marking the distance between the front door and the mailbox grow double in size each day. The chipping paint on the rusting metal flag glows brighter until it looks like it would be red-hot to the touch. Each day it takes more effort to make myself open the box and reach my hand inside.
The possibilities fly through my mind as I look away, delaying the knowledge of what lies within a little longer.
Acceptance? Penny-pinching and saving, loans and budgeting. A change of scene and pace. Finding an apartment, roommates. Classes, homework, papers, exams, again but with a job as well. Or correcting and teaching, if there’s an assistantship in there as well. Adult responsibilities but with the freedom of adulthood as well.
Rejection? Stuck, further delaying hopes and dreams. Stuck, in a dreary job that’s beginning to stretch the definition of temporary. Dreading the possibilities of complacency and settling because it’s just easier. Saving faster but for what? When? Disappointment, in self and abilities.
My hand hovers near the top of the mailbox as one last thought occurs, worse than acceptance or rejection.
Nothing. An echo of my hand hitting the empty metal. My questions unanswered. Or junk. Bills, advertisements, magazines and catalogues, unnecessary credit card offers that head straight for the recycle bin. But nothing with an academic seal or in a large nine-by-twelve inch envelope. The stone steps doubling once more and the flag losing its red tint, turning almost white.
Finally, my hand falls. And feels paper. An envelope. No, three envelopes. And a magazine. Or a catalogue. It doesn’t matter which. I almost leave it behind it concerns me so little.
The first… is junk. A charity seeking donations. And yet they attach a nickel to the envelope. I’ll consider it a contribution for my education. Maybe.
The second… is more junk. Another magnetic credit card for the collection on the fridge supporting the mosaic of take-out menus.
I close my eyes as I move the third envelope to the top of the pile, take a deep breath and hold it before I can bring myself to open them.