Leep was sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a cup of green tea, which he had never tasted, in the kitchen of Beth, whom he called (in his head) Lizzie, when she received a letter in the mail.
Leep never received mail, except for flyers and ads. He paused to think who would ever send him a letter, written on paper, sealed in an envelope, and physically deposited in a mailbox. He could think of no one, except perhaps his mother’s sister Theresa, a grim grey person who belonged in a smokey, spidery fairy tale and who felt Leep was ungrateful, though he barely knew her. She might though, if she had to communicate, send Leep a letter, perhaps to express her disappointment, and only because she could not tell Leep in person or email him or find some other way to express her disapproval. Still, Leep thought, it would be fun to get a letter.
Beth seemed surprised to get this letter. It was ten in the morning. Deborah was at work, and Beth was due to start her shift at noon. Leep had dropped by to drop off a British tabloid account of her son-in-law’s murder, which he had laminated and wanted to put in the binder that Deborah had kept overnight.
He loved visiting Lizzie when there was just the two of them, and no Deborah to remind him how awkwardly different he was, and just Beth, in whose life he was a still a somewhat insignificant satellite, but one whom she still took seriously and treated with careful politeness. And who served him green tea, which she said was good for his health. He never drank tea. It tasted a bit like dishwater, but he tried to imagine the health benefits as he sipped it, and thanked Lizzie, and watched her open the envelope.
“Wow. Fuck,” said Lizzie. She folded the thick creamy pages of the letter, then unfolded them and read it again. She then handed the first page to Leep.
He read, I am sorry and want to make amends. You meant no harm. I want to–
Lizzie snatched the page from his hands and folded it into the second page. She threw it all onto the kitchen table. Then she picked the letter up and opened it again.
“Leep,” she said. “Do you mind? I have to go out. I think I’m fucking rich or something, but I’m not sure. Ok? You can finish your tea and whatever. The binder is on the coffee table or whatever. Just turn the lock before you leave, ok?”
Leep nodded, and watched as Lizzie stuffed the letter into an already bulging leather bag, flung it over her shoulder, and left through the back door.
Leep wasn’t sure, but he suspected this was not a great development, in terms of his relationship with Lizzie.