Letters and Letters

The second part… Again… I tried my best to research things for this.

The last thing Ezra ever expected when he first received a letter from Laura Williams was that she would want to visit him.  In fact, her first letters had been cautious and carefully worded.  For some reason, Ezra had poured his heart out to her.  Perhaps he’d just missed writing to someone.

He’d always been the sort to enjoy writing a letter.  He’d had his first pen pal when he was in the fifth grade.  The young man he had exchanged letters with was more interested in sports than writing.  It was clear that, on his part, it was nothing more than an obligation for school.  For Ezra, it had been the start of a long string of pen pals.

After that, he’d had a new pen pal nearly every school year.  Sometimes, the friendship would only last for a few exchanges.  Other times, it stretched through the school year.  However, it had never extended into the next school year.  Indeed, only one pen pal had bothered writing to him through the summer months and, then, only because there was little else the boy could do with a badly broken leg.

After high school, Ezra took every opportunity he could to write letters to people he knew.  He corresponded regularly with his mother.  He kept in touch with classmates that had moved to other states.  Each time, the letters would trickle and slow, until he was reduced to sending Christmas cards at the most.  His mother had been the only person that continued to correspond with him regularly.

That was true, right up until he’d been arrested.  Then, she’d cut off all contact with him.  She was on his visitation list, but she never attempted to see him.  She didn’t write to him, although he had sent letters to her.  He had called her cellular phone, but she never answered the phone.

After a year, the letters began being returned as unforwardable and her phone was deactivated.  Without any way to reach her, Ezra had continued writing to her.  However, he couldn’t send the letters he wrote.  It became sort of a desperate, sad journal to a woman who clearly wanted no contact from him.

Then, he had received a letter from Laura Williams.  He’d never heard of the woman, but it hardly mattered.  It was like a lifeline thrown to a drowning man and Ezra had clung to it just as desperately.  As the holidays approached, Ezra sat on his bunk to read her latest letter.

“No, no, no,” he murmured, shaking his head at the words he read.  She wanted to visit him?  What was she thinking?  He bit his lip and then looked towards Josiah.

The older man arched an eyebrow at him.  “Is there something wrong, son?” he asked, his low voice soft and his manner casual.

Ezra flushed.  “She wants to visit me,” he said, his voice strained.  “My… my own mother doesn’t even want to hear from me.  Why would a person I’ve only ever met on paper want to visit me?”

“Perhaps,” Josiah said, his voice soft, “because she can tell you need it.”  When Ezra’s brows furrowed, Josiah shrugged.  “We all have visits from someone, even if it’s just our lawyers.  No one ever visits you, Ezra, and Laura is the only person on the outside that you have any contact with.”

“I… I’m going to tell her that it’s a bad idea,” he said, shaking his head.  He couldn’t say if it was just pride talking or if he was concerned that she would never write to him again once she met him.  All he knew was that some part of him was screaming that she couldn’t come there.

“You can write whatever you want,” Josiah said.  Then, he smiled and took a step closer to Ezra’s bunk.  Setting his large hands on the edge of it, he said, “Would you take a suggestion from an older, wiser man in a similar position?”

Ezra flushed.  “You know that I’ve always taken your suggestions as the gospel truth, Josiah,” he said, his voice soft.  It was the truth.  If Josiah told him that he shouldn’t make eye contact with this inmate or he should be at least polite to that one, Ezra didn’t think twice about following the suggestions.

“Put her on the list of acceptable visitors,” Josiah said.  When Ezra frowned at him, he smiled.  “Imagine if she were, in spite of your letter telling her it’s a bad idea, to come here with the intention of visiting you over your protests.”

“If she’s not on the list… they won’t let her in,” Ezra murmured.  When Josiah nodded, Ezra heaved a sigh and then nodded.  “Right,” he said.

“Tell her not to visit, if that’s what you really want,” Josiah said, his voice soft.  “Just don’t make her unwelcome if she takes it into her head to see you.”

“Yes, Josiah,” Ezra said, his voice soft.  That night, he wrote two letters.  One was for Laura and he would mail that the next day.  The other was to his mother.  He wrote about how it felt to know that his mother wanted nothing to do with him, while a virtual stranger was determined to see him.  That letter, was tucked away with the other letters he hoped to send the woman one day.

Then, the next week, one of the guards looked in on him.  “Visitor,” he said, nodding towards Ezra.  He smirked and added, “It’s a lady and she doesn’t look old enough to be your mother, Montgomery.”

Ezra blinked and then looked at Josiah.  He was very glad, now, that he’d followed his friend’s advice.  He nodded once and then followed the guard towards the prison’s visiting center.

His heart was pounding so loudly in his ears that Ezra could barely hear.  He felt a little light-headed as he approached the room.  “One hour,” he heard the guard say.  Nodding, he stepped inside.

His eyes went to the only person sitting alone and he knew it had to be Laura.  She was a petite woman with dark curls and wide blue eyes.  She smiled at him, flashing a pair of dimples at him.  Ezra had never been so happy to be ignored in his life as he was when Laura ignored his advice to stay away.

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