The late afternoon sun hit the postcard and illuminate the idyllic lake-and-tree picture of the upper peninsula. Marty sighed. On the last day of school, Marty and Will decided to penpal over the summer while he was away in Michigan. They promised to write each other every week, even if nothing exciting happened. So far, Marty had written seven postcards to receive nothing in return. Should he continue to send words that seemed to fall on the deaf ears of his friend?
Marty sighed again. A promise was a promise, even if his friend didn't write back. He placed the postcard in the mailbox, flipped up the flag, and turned to walk back down the gravel lane. Even if he was not Will's best friend, Will was Marty's closest friend in California.
The move had not been easy. Marty didn't care for his new step-father or the fact that he had to move from one side of the country to the other right before starting middle school. True, living next to the ocean was not a bad perk, but it was all so different. Marty felt lonely more often than not, and he missed being surrounded by his cousins. Meeting Will gave him a break from the nagging desire to hitch-hike across the country and leave behind his new life in California. Will taught him how to surf and skateboard, as well as where to find the best ice cream on the West Coast. If California didn't always feel like summer, Marty would miss spending lazy sunny days exploring with his new friend. But Michigan had cousins, sailboats, and biking through the woods until the sun set or the mosquitos sucked dry your last drop of blood.
Maybe it was silly to be angry or disappointed. Marty was having fun in Michigan, and he was glad to share his memories with his new friend. If he wrote enough enticing letters, maybe Will would even come visit for part of next summer.
Still, though. Seven letters. Marty knew the post office might lose one or two here and there, but seven consistently? That would be cause for rioting in the streets and an overhaul of the whole mail system. No... maybe Will just lost track of time in the land of sun and beaches. Every day starts to feel disorienting-ly the same, and seven weeks could feel like two days.
- - -
Nothing. Not a thing.
Junk mail, sure. There was always junk mail and those credit card offers that fueled his parents' fire pit. But no letters. Not from Michigan, not from nowhere.
At first, Will would check the mail with excitement. Now, it was just a ritual on his way to the beach. Will was sure that Marty would have been different than other want-to-be penpals. Shoot, they both read letter correspondences of famous dead people and joked about their own letters being published someday.
Unfortunately, you can't publish nothing. And that was the extent of Will's correspondence with Marty. True, he wrote a couple of letters at the beginning. But it was difficult to keep it up with no returned discourse. You can't keep firing ideas out into the void like that. His last letter was four weeks ago. Four pages. Filled with J's in different script. If Marty wasn't reading his letters, at least he could practice his handwriting skills. Now, Will could state proudly, without refute, the ability to reproduce a perfect J in 237 different scripts. How about that for fame?
Of course, he would forgive Marty of the many reasons or excuses given for not writing. Life happens. But after getting that all sorted out, he might torture his friend for a little while with script quizzes or another viewing of "Helvetica" before letting on that everything was okay.