I watched 'The Lake House' the other night and thought to write a story similar to it... well, kind of. I've been trying to write something like this for a long time; and this time I think I got it right!
The day was stinking hot when Tammy moved into the house she inherited from her agent and friend, Brian. They weren’t close, but he had gotten her her start in the publishing industry; and he didn’t have any family. He had never married or had any children. But he did buy some great pieces of land with houses on them. In his Will, he gave what the immediate family thought were worth something; and gave her the house down by the river.
It looked like something out of a Thomas Kinkade painting, but it appeared as though it hadn’t seen anyone to look after it in over a decade. As she pulled the old set of keys from her pocket, a car drove up behind the moving van and the real estate agent got out.
“Hi.” She walked over in her suit and heels, “Are you sure you want the house?”
“Yeah. My lease is up soon and I don’t want to share house anymore.” She said, “I want to have a place and space of my own.”
The agent cringed, “But this place is a dump.”
“You’re a real estate agent. Aren’t you supposed to sell these places?” Tammy asked.
“Yeah, but really, Brian bought this on the spur of the moment.”
“I find that’s when you can make the best decisions.” She smiled and walked up to the building to open the front door.
From the first day, she started receiving mail – and she hadn’t told the post office where she was living yet. There was a letter from a man welcoming her to the neighbourhood.
‘Dear Neighbour, welcome! My name is Ben. I live across the river in the other cottage. I noticed you were moving in and would like to come and say hi one of these days. Just leave a letter in your letter box to let me know when I can come and I’ll do just that. Yours neighbourly, Ben Cross.’
She smiled and wrote a quick note to him immediately, ‘Dear Ben, Thank you so much for your lovely letter. So nice neighbours still welcome each other! I’ll have the house straightened out by the weekend. So, do drop by on Saturday afternoon. Tammy.’
Tammy busied herself with her new house, her next book and started cleaning up the garden as well; and Saturday came just as quickly. During the week, she and Ben swapped notes on a constant basis. She found out so much about him through his wonderful penmanship and yet, wondered why the paper smelled like pipe smoke.
Then, the day came. She had been out to the local store and bought some food just for that Saturday afternoon visit from Ben.
However, he never showed up.
‘Ben, what happened? Did you get busy? Tammy.’
‘No, I was there. But you weren’t. I was about to ask the same about you. Ben.’
She frowned at the piece of paper as she stood by her letterbox when the postman walked by, “Miss Tammy Kramer?”
Looking up, she smiled, “Yes.”
“Boy, do I have some mail for you!” He gave her wad of mail and three cards, “You have to collect the rest at the post office.”
“Okay.” She smiled, “Hey, do you know Ben Cross?”
His eyes slowly met hers, “I did, yes.”
“He’s no longer here.” He turned away and walked to the next house down the lane, leaving her with her thoughts.
Tammy walked inside, put the mail on the table by the door, grabbed the car keys and drove into town to collect the rest of her mail. On her way there, she thought to drive around the long way to see Ben’s house.
But there was no house on the other side of the river.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” a voice shouted at her from the other side of the road.
She spun to find an old man standing in front of her car, “Hi. I’m looking for Ben.”
“He’s no longer here.” He snapped.
“People keep telling me this. But I want to know why.”
“Why would you want to know?”
“I’ve heard of him, that’s all.”
“He died last year in a house fire.” The man turned and walked down the road, his face twisted and bitter.
Tears filled her eyes, as she climbed back into her car, started it and drove into town, collected her mail and back home almost without saying anything to anyone. When she arrived home, she Googled Ben and found out how he died.
“Oh, my god… he dies tonight last year… at 10pm.” She looked up at her clock and found it was 6pm; plenty of time to write him a letter and warn him about what’s going to happen. To stay away from his place for that night and, ‘…meet me at my house on 23rd, July, 2016 at my letterbox. I will be waiting. Please don’t go to your place… it’s going to burn down at 10pm. Trust me, because I love you. Tammy.’
She rushed outside into the night air, pushed the letter into the letterbox, put the flag up and waited next it.
She waited for the next four hours.
Tammy was sitting against the stone wall crying when she heard a car engine coming around the lane. She checked the time. It was a little past 10pm, and scrambled to her feet. Last year’s Mustang pulled up outside her house and a man – who looked very much like a younger version of the postman – stepped out of it.
“Tammy? I’m Ben.” He pulled out of his coat pocket a letter and smiled, “I’m not sure how this worked, but I received this letter a couple of years ago while I was living at this address to meet you here… but I had only started living across the river about three months before you moved in. Your letter to not go home on the day of the fire saved my life.”
“Where did you go that night?” she asked.
“My parents’ house.” He smiled, “I think you may know my Uncle, Brian. I believe he was your agent.”