Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Postcard Dreams
The chair squeaks as I spin in the same circle over and over until I can feel my stomach lurch from nausea. My eyes track over the postcards littering the entire wall of my tiny cube at the call center I work at. I inhale deeply, trying to clear away the dizzy feeling in my head, but it only proves to remind me of how stale the air is in here.
The cards are not from my travels. No, I’ve never even been on a plane or left the comfort of the state of Iowa in my twenty three year life. We’re farmers, or rather my family is. I moved to Cedar Rapids in an attempt to get away from the corn, and the small town boys whose only future resides in the combines they’ve known how to drive since they could reach the pedals. My tiny studio apartment is one I can barely afford on my miniscule salary here at Watson Cable. I get paid to try and calm customers down from being furious because our outage is causing them to miss the Hawkeye’s game or some soap opera I thought had been cancelled years ago. Yep, It’s pretty glamourous here.
I finger the edge of a postcard of New York City, lit up in a cotton candy pink sunset that I think only Photoshop could produce. A wistful smile creeps across my face when I remember finding this one being used as a bookmark in a copy of Catcher in the Rye I found in our local used bookstore, Novel Hovel. It’s the start of my obsession in finding old postcards. I look for them at garage sales and flea markets. It’s my poor man’s version of taking a vacation I’ll likely never be able to afford. The words written on the back, sentiments I wish I’d receive from a loved one.
“See you soon!”
“Wish you were here.”
“I can’t wait to share this with you.”
My hobby fuels my imagination as I try to picture the type of person who wrote those succinct words crammed on the back of a card that anyone in the post office could read. Do they mind their sweet nothings being palmed by their sweaty overweight mailman, Dale? Where do people get the confidence to express themselves without a care of the world? It’s what draws me to each unique little momento. My own little way of escaping the mundane life I’m living.
“You know, you should maybe go to one of these places before you run out of room on your wall.”
I spin back towards the sound of my boss, Jamie. She’s always harping on people to use their vacation time and strive for a work - life balance. “Yeah, when I win the lottery, that’ll be first on my list--” I chuckle, “--actually it will be second to quitting my job, then I’ll head to the airport for a ticket to anywhere warm with a beach.”
“You know, the company sends the top customer service agents to the annual company conference in January, right? Maybe you should keep working hard and you’ll be chosen to head to New Orleans. I think that’s where it’s being held this year? It’s not a beach, but it’s definitely warmer and has better food than we do.”
“You think I actually have a chance at being picked?” My heart pounds in my chest with a mix of terror and hope.
She bends down to whisper her reply, “I wouldn’t have mentioned it if I didn’t.”
With those few words she walks away and leaves me pondering a world outside of Cedar Rapids and into the possibility of sending a postcard of my very own.
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Michela Walters is a wife, mother and book enthusiast. She is currently attempting her hand at writing her first romantic fiction novella. You can read her other stories on her blog: michelawalters.wordpress.com