Letter from the unknown
Letter from the unknown is a short mystical story about human choices and desires and the price we pay for them.
Sunday morning. Cloudy autumn day but this is the first weekend for Rosie after a long time, so it`s a wonderful day. No need to rush, so girl decided she could afford to sleep in. However, you can`t sleep all day long. The clock on the nightstand showed that it`s 11 am already and a huge desire for black coffee made her get up. A cold shower helped to wake up and after Rosie switched on the coffee machine, she decided to go through her mail. Bill, fresh newspaper, another bill – nothing special. Wait! What is this? A weird looking black envelope with no stamps or address. Perhaps somebody threw it into Rosie`s mailbox by mistake.
She took out the letter. The paper was smooth and pleasant to the touch and the handwriting was firm and masculine.
Waiting no longer, Rosie started reading, completely forgetting about her already ice cold coffee. The very first lines made her feel the chill down her spine and goosebumps covered her skin.
My dear friend!
If you read this letter, I`m probably dead. I`m writing because I want to share my story. A story of wrong choice and bitter consequences. I don`t know who will get my confession, but I truly hope that my story will be read and teach a lesson. I beg you, dear reader, do not repeat my mistakes, do not look for easy ways. Well, let`s begin…
This happened to me a long time ago. I just graduated from the university that I had entered to make my parents proud, and I didn`t know what to do next. I was born in the family of economists and this fact decided my future giving me no choice at all. Nobody asked me what I want, and honestly speaking, my parents never cared about my desires. Having authority and money, my father bought me a spot in one of the most prestigious university in our country.
-My boy is going to have a bright future. – My mother kept telling to her empty-headed friends during constant martini parties.
-Certainly, dear! Your boy is so talented and intelligent, a pure angel. – usually replied these “snakes”.
A “pure angel” just turned seventeen and hated economy with all heart and soul. Soul… I possessed it then.
…I`m sorry for getting distracted. Let`s continue. Thus I graduated from the university and had no clue what to do next. By that time mother and father had passed away leaving me a decent inheritance. I could live a comfortable life for the rest of my days if I disposed of it wisely. Well, I wasn`t wise. I was twenty-two and decided to go with the stream. I wasted my entire inheritance, and five years of my life with simple pleasures – women and alcohol. I don`t remember much of it. All I have left is the felling that I`m a complete looser, and my two best friends, who were always by my side, no matter what.
One of them is the greatest composer of our generation but back then he was a young, talented, but unappreciated and unknown musician. The second one is an enamored poet who became the famous writer K* after a number of years.
Finally we`ve reached the most interesting part. Three friends, all around their 30, and without money or future. No one knew that one day our lives would turn upside-down. But we paid a high price for it. I didn`t realize it then. Oh God, how foolish I was! God… You can`t help me.
If my memory doesn`t fail me, it happened in one unusually warm evening at the end of October. As always, three of us were sitting in the bar “Spider web” spending our last money on cheap gin and trying to find the answer to the question – “What next?”
I don`t remember how it happened, but soon one more person joined our pretty drunk company. He was tall and thin and wore weird old-fashioned clothes – dark blue velvet tuxedo. He was also holding a cane in his hands. “Is he imitating Bulgakov`s Voland?” – was my first thought. But our new friend brought a bottle of gin with him and we didn`t care about his odd appearance anymore.
In half an hour the topic of our conversation changed to more private. Our new acquaintance, who introduced himself as Lucian Heylel (oh, God!), suddenly asked us about our innermost desires. Gin loosened my tongue and I started complaining about my life and universal injustice to the new friend. I honestly told that my deepest desire is…money. Yes, so simple and banal, I want money to be well-to-do for the rest of my life
-Hm, ambitious human without purpose. I can work with it. – answered Lucian.
Musician was next. He said that all he can dream of is recognition. He is very talented after all, but unfortunately modern world doesn`t need talent.
-Oh, unacknowledged genius! This is so interesting! – replied Heylel.
The last one was poet. He told his love story that tormented him all these years.
-Poet with broken heart. So exciting and so predictable. – answered Lucian – well, you are very lucky men as I can give you what you want.
- Really? Just like that. – laughed drunk poet – Out of the kindness of your heart?
-Of course not! Do I look like an altruist? I help disinterestedly only to pounds. What to say, I love dogs. – said our new friend. – Don`t worry gentlemen, I don`t need much. All I ask in return is your souls.
- Deal with the Devil? – I asked Lucian faltering.
-Call it what you want. – he answered calmly.
-No way! – shouted musician – I don`t want to go to hell when I die.
-My dear friend, why are you so worried about the hell? No one came back yet to prove its existence. Moreover, what is a soul? And do you really need it?
There was a long pause as we all were thinking about what Lucian had said to us.
Then poet asked:
-How are we going to do this? I mean selling our souls. Do we have to sign an old piece of parchment with our blood?
-Nonsense! – replied Lucian. – What a medieval method! To seal our deal I just need your verbal consent. All of you give me the permission to dispose of your immortal souls as I wish, after your deaths of course, and, in return, I pledge to make your innermost desires to come true.
-What do you need our souls for? – asked musician.
- Well, I lost mine many years ago and I have been trying to find a perfect replacement. Unfortunately I haven`t succeeded yet. – Lucian briefly shared his story pouring gin into musician`s glass. – So what do you think gentlemen? This is the deal of a lifetime. No one will ever make you a suchlike offer.
Either we were so drunk that we didn`t care at all, or Lucian had an incredible gift of persuasion but we all agreed to sell our souls. Idiots! Drunk idiots! Lucian smiled and said:
-Gentlemen, it`s done and it`s time to say goodbye. Await wonders.
The last thing I remember from that evening is the tall thin figure slowly walking away and the sound of the cane knocking on paving stone. One. Two. Three. Four… And I blacked out.
Next morning I woke up in my bed having no memories of how I reached my house. Later in the evening three of us gathered in “Spider web” again. We were drinking cheap gin in silence. We were scared to talk about what we had done yesterday. Poet broke this awkward silence:
- You won`t believe what`s happened to me today. While walking in the park I bumped into Aleksandra, my Aleksandra. We fell into talk. We were standing there and talking for an hour. And we are meeting tomorrow again.
- Really? This is a big surprise. – answered musician – I thought she left the city long time ago.
- I`m happy for you. That`s wonderful. – replied I. – Wonderful…
And it was just the beginning. The beginning and the end.
To make long story short, in next five-seven years all our dreams came true. My friend musician got public recognition and became famous not only in our country but also abroad. My dear poet K* became quite popular as well, but most importantly he got what he always wanted – Aleksandra`s heart. The wedding was marvelous. As to me, I also got what I asked Lucian about long time ago – money. Now I can provide a prosperous life not only to myself but also to my children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.
My friends and I saw each other more and more seldom, but when it happened we didn`t have the courage to talk about Lucian, our desires or our souls. Everything happened as Heylel promised – wonders came into our lives. But he didn`t tell us that we wouldn`t be able to enjoy these wonders. As soon as we sealed the deal, we lost the taste of life, we didn`t feel anything. Happiness, joy, anger, sadness, love, hate – just words to us. All we have is the emptiness inside.
Thirteen more years slipped by. Two months ago we said our goodbyes to the poet. Cardiac arrest (either an overstrain or a sudden fright). After the funeral musician and I were sitting in my living-room, sipping gin. For the first time we fell into plain talk about the choice we made long time ago and consequences of this choice. My dear friend confessed that he kept thinking about ending it all. He was fighting these gloomy thoughts, but lately he felt that he was losing this fight.
That was the last time when I saw him. For the past two months I haven`t received any news from him. Deep inside I know what that means. It means that he lost the fight against himself. I`m afraid to call, afraid to get the confirmation to something I already know.
Yesterday I saw Lucian. It was late in the evening, I looked out of the window and recognized the tall and thin figure in the velvet tuxedo. He hasn`t changed at all. He looked at his pocket watch, turned around and walked down the street. I swear I heard the sound of his cane knocking on the paving stone. One. Two. Three. Four… I know what it means. My time has come...
After reading this letter from the unknown Rosie decided to go for a walk in the park nearby. She needed it to clear her head. It was the end of October and park was covered with golden-red carpet of leaves. Rosie sat on the bench in the heart of the park. That was her favorite place. She comes here often to read the book or just to be alone. In half an hour a tall and thin man in the velvet tuxedo with the cane in his hands approached her hiding spot and politely asked to join her. Rosie was so deep into her thought that she didn`t even realize where he came from. But his disarming smile won over and she just nodded in approval. They fell into talk and Rosie thought that he is very interesting and pleasant man.
-Oh, time flies so fast. – said the young man. – May I see you to your house?
Slowly they started walking towards the exit of the park. In twilight it seemed so mysterious, keeping secrets that will never be uncovered. The weather was pleasant, you couldn`t even hear the noise of the wind. All you could hear is the sound of the cane knocking on the paving stone. One. Two. Three. Four…