19 Ivy Lane
Episode 1 by Aubrey Wynne
She stood waiting by the gate with a letter, as she did everyday. Victor Burnham readjusted the mailbag on his shoulder and gave her a sad smile. Eloisa refused to acknowledge the sympathy and gave him a wide grin that lit up her deep, blue eyes. She scooped her long, blonde hair back from her face with one slender hand and held out an envelope with the other.
He took it from her and placed it with the rest of the outgoing mail. “Nice weather we’re having for August, don’t ya think?”
“Yes,” she answered, her gaze holding his steady. “Anything for me today?”
Victor looked down at his feet. “No, ma’am, I’m sorry. Not today.”
Her expression never faltered. “Well then, perhaps tomorrow. Yes, perhaps tomorrow.” She turned back toward the house.
He watched her walk up the stairs to the porch, her thin cotton dress swaying around her ankles. The sun shone through the material, and he could see the silhouette of long, slender legs. Who does she write to each night? As he continued his route, he wondered. The look of expectancy on her face told him it had to be a man.
Eloisa Sinclair provided hours of delightful gossip for the small Midwest town of Momence. It seemed she had taken up residence at 19 Ivy Lane almost overnight. The house, vacant for the past ten years, had been taken over by a bank when the owners went bankrupt. A maintenance company out of Chicago kept up the property and replaced the “For Sale” sign each year with a new shiny one. Then one day this past June, the sign was gone. The local realtor said he’d had a phone call from an attorney and given instructions to leave the keys in the mailbox.
Two days later, Ms. Sinclair appeared at the gate and greeted Victor. She handed him a letter addressed to E. B with a post office box in San Diego, California. He mentioned the weather, she answered and their daily routine began. She visited the grocery store once a week, nodded to other patrons but never engaged in conversation. New theories about the town’s mystery woman now surfaced weekly at the local diner.
“I heard she’s a widow and writes to her dead husband,” the waitress told the men at the counter. “She’s waiting for him to answer from the grave.”
“Don’t be silly, her husband is overseas,” another man argued. “Those soldiers never have time to write. The mailman says she’s always smiling. It’s because no news is good news.”
“Someone at the gas station said she’s a floozy from Washington D.C. and hiding out from the press.”
Last week she had been a model, hoping for a reprieve from the paparazzi. With her looks, Victor didn’t doubt that possibility. But he kept his thoughts to himself.
The next day, the postmaster called after him as he headed out on his route. “Burnham, wait a minute. I’ve got something for you.” He waved a cream-colored vellum envelope in the air. “This should make your day. I hope it’s good news for her. ”
The letter, addressed to Ms. Eloisa Sinclair, was written in a bold, male hand with no return label. Hot damn! “Yessir.”
Victor couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. He barely noticed the rain coming down as he made his way up Ivy Lane. He paused for a moment when she was not at the gate. It’s raining, you idiot. Why would she stand out in the rain? But she had done just that on several occasions.
He made his way up the sidewalk, onto the porch and knocked on the door. No answer. He tried again. Still no answer. With a little guilt, he peeked in the picture window, and his mouth fell open in surprise.