He was coming today—she was sure of it.
She was sure of it because it’d come 365 days ago. And she knew for sure that 365 days had
passed because she’d kept track, marking off on a calendar day by day.
She glanced at the clock on the nightstand, read off the numbers. 1:06. It had come at 3:00
last time. She had it written down, here, on her calendar.
Three minus one was … what? Two? She thought so. But she was being silly again, just like
years ago, when the teacher had stood in front of her and rapped her knuckles. Reprimanded her.
She’d been so embarrassed, but, funny, she couldn’t remember why, why it had mattered, why she
had been scolded in the first place, only the feeling of embarrassment remained.
Her mind was no longer as sharp as it had been. And certainly that wasn’t a good excuse, but
it was her only one.
She closed her eyes and lay back down on the bed, running her finger down a long red line
on her arm. Her arm was old, wrinkly skin, no longer thin and shapely, but the scar was not so old.
She frowned, stared at it, and then shook her head, the memory too much to muster.
What did the scar on her arm matter, after all, when there were less than two hours until he
She didn’t remember how many minutes were in an hour. Twenty, thirty, a hundred? And
there was something that came after the minutes, too—but try as she might, she couldn’t remember
what they were called either.
Up she went again, feet planted on the ground. The calendar, full of red marks, lay at her
feet. She bent down, groaning at the effort, picking the calendar up.
It was a good thing, then, that she’d marked off the days as they passed, although she
couldn’t for the life of her figure out how she’d remembered to do so. After all, the days were only
passing by, and the memory faded along with them. But, then again, it was all she had left to hang
on too—she would wake up every morning and see his face—bright blue eyes, golden hair… She
couldn’t help but not forget every day. All she had to do was think of that day when it would come,
as she drew a red mark across a square…
She didn’t know how many minutes were left, she didn’t know how much longer it would
take for him to come, so she stood up, pushing her way past a pile of calendars, all covered in red
Poor Robert, everyone thought. He knew they were thinking it, he knew that they did
nothing but pity him, and he hated it.
It wasn’t because it wasn’t true, although it wasn’t. But what people didn’t know was that
Robert wasn’t Poor Robert, he was Stupid Robert. Poor Robert was the one who didn’t deserve
what was happening to him, Poor Robert was the one who the world decided to hate. Stupid
Robert, on the other hand, was the one who’d ruined it all. One night of drunkenness had done him
in. He’d thrown his life away, and being the Stupid Robert he was, he’d thrown her life away too. It
was because of him, because of Stupid Robert.
He looked down at the parcel in his hand, the shiny wrapping paper. Her favorite color was
gold—like the color of royalty, she called it—and he’d picked out the paper as a reflection of that.
All his life she’d guided him along, and he wanted to give her this small gift—the color she loved
most—at the very least.
It was a stroke of luck—bitter luck—that because of the terrible thing that befell her, he was
just Robert to her once more. It was a stroke of luck, indeed, because every year he came, and when
he came she did not turn him away in anger.
Every year he had come, and every year he came only made Robert realize even more what a
Stupid Robert he was, after all.
It was 2:28 when the doorbell rang.
She opened the door at 2:27. The mailman stood in front of her, finger already poised to hit
the doorbell. And he was so surprised to see her, he pushed the button anyway.
It was a different mailman, different from the mailman clad in blue that came to her house
daily. In fact, that mailman had already come today, earlier. But she knew that this was his doing, that
there was a different mailman because of him. And this mailman stood in front of her, dressed in
shorts and a t-shirt, his eyes haunted, blonde hair tousled.
A smile stretched across her face. She looked down in the mailman’s hands, saw the package
he held. It was wrapped with a shiny gold wrapping paper, and she frowned—the gold hurt her eyes.
But he had meant it for her, and that had to mean something, didn’t it?
“That… it’s for me, it is?”
Her voice, raspy from days of not being used. Her mind, it struggled for the words to say.
But that blessed mailman seemed to understand what she was saying.
“Yes, this is for you.”
She took the package eagerly. Fingers trembling, fumbling with the shiny gold wrapping
paper. The paper falling away, the weight in her palm remaining.
It was a bird, a clear blue stone in the shape of a bird. An ocean blue bird—her favorite
color, it was—it had to be, it was from him!—as blue as his eyes ever were.
She felt a prickling sensation in the back of her mind, as if she knew this weight in her palm.
But that was silly, where would she have seen this bird before? She didn’t even like birds—or so she
She looked at the bird again, brow furrowing, then at the mailman. He seemed so oddly
interested in her, this mailman—she remembered this mailman. He was the one that came last year,
and the year before that, and all the years before that. It was surprising that she never remembered
his face until he stood there in front of her.
But of course, the mailman didn’t matter, all that mattered was the weight in her palm—not
the memory of it, but the weight, because it was from him—it had to be from him—and, oh, she
needed to go and buy a new calendar, to make new marks in and count off. She smiled briefly at the
mailman, prepared to close the door—
“Do you like it?”
She stopped, startled. The mailman’s eyes looked so sad as they stared into hers. She glanced
back down at her bird, so clear and blue and it brought back so many memories—
He dropped his head, dropped his eyes, flushing. “I’m sorry, I—I’ve been busy, and I didn’t
have much spare change, but… I’m glad you like it.”
His words didn’t make any sense to her—why was he apologizing? “No, it’s all right. I just
want to you thank my son when you get back, you hear now, young man? …you know, David.” And
as she said the name, she knew that she was right. All those past 365 days she had been trying to
remember, been trying to remember her son’s name, and now she remembered.
“David? Your son’s name is… David?” His voice faltered. She frowned for a moment,
confused. If this mailman didn’t know David, then who was he? Surely it was a mistake.
“Oh, David has the most beautiful blue eyes, and he always remembers everything—much
better than I, at any rate. And whenever it’s my birthday, he always sends you, doesn’t he, to give me
his birthday present?”
The man—whoever he was—looked at the stone in her hands, at her face. He seemed
disconcerted, for some reason, as if he could not share in her happiness. “I suppose so.”
She looked at him for a little while longer, for he was the mailman that came every year, after
all—and how could he not know David? And so then she furrowed her brow a little more, stared a
little more. He watched her watching him, and she saw tiny drops of perspiration on his brow.
“What’s your name?” she asked finally. Perhaps if she knew his name, she would place him.
Perhaps if she just heard the name, she would know who he was and why he didn’t want to admit
that he knew David.
The man’s eyes were darting back and forth, not meeting hers. “I—I… It’s Robert. And I
just want to say, I’m sorry.” And then his eyes flicked to her, but to her arm, to the red angry line
across it, and she watched him swallow. “I’m sorry,” he repeated, as if he were trying to make
himself believe the words.
Sorry for what, she wondered absent-mindedly to herself. But she didn’t know anyone
named Robert. Her son’s name was David. This mailman did not know what he was talking
about—and she found that her hands itched instead to get themselves on a red pen, on a brand new
calendar. If she didn’t draw the line across that first day, that fresh and shining 1, she would forget,
and what would be the use of her calendar?
The mailman—she was forgetting his name… Richard? Ryan? It had started with an R,
but… it wasn’t important. The mailman was just staring at her, saying nothing else—nothing else
that had anything to do with David.
So she shrugged, said her thanks again, closed the door, trying to block that mailman out of
her memory. He wasn’t important. Already, she was placing the little bird on a shelf, to be looked at
and not touched; already she was deciding the best days to go and buy a new calendar.
365 days, and David (she whispered that precious name to herself many times—she would
not forget it this time) would send her something new.
And so she sat back down, content at last, and then her brow furrowed as a picture on the
table caught her attention—for some unfathomable reason, a picture of the man—it wasn’t Ramsey,
was it?—who had delivered her present was sitting on the dining table. And his eyes were, she
realized, an ocean blue.