The Mail is the second continuation short story of Amy's struggle with life. It tells about her dread of the Postman (Mailman) bringing her more bills which she cannot pay.
Amy heard the letter box snap shut and her heart sank. She looked out of the window and saw the postman leaving her path. She used to look forward to the postman bringing mail she liked the anticipation of what surprises she might find but now all that he brought were bills that they could not pay. With a heavy step she headed to the front door and picked up three envelopes. She went into the kitchen and put the envelopes on the kitchen table without looking at them she would make a coffee first and build up to it.
As Amy boiled the kettle her thoughts drifted into the past. They had such dreams of the future when they were wed. There was no indication at this time that life would change so drastically. Tim earned good money as a builder. He worked for a large construction company having started as an apprentice learning all aspects of building before completing his apprenticeship as a joiner. He worked long hours as extra work was always available and they needed the money to set up home. They saw a bright future ahead and never saw the recession as anything that would change their lives. But since the recession had hit banks would no longer grant mortgages with good rates so people stopped moving around they simply could not afford to do so as they found their homes were no longer worth what they had paid for them. This meant first time buyers could not obtain mortgages to get their foot on the ladder to becoming homeowners and so they were forced to rent. All of this meant a big change in all areas especially in new buildings. First of all the extra working hours disappeared then the redundancies started. Tim withstood several pay offs but eventually his turn arrived. That was over a year ago and things were not improving. Amy knew Tim was giving up hope. In the beginning he had been optimistic saying I will do any job I am sure I will get something soon how many people had said the same thing she wondered.
Tim was at the Jobcentre now signing for his Jobseeker’s Allowance. She used to wait for his return from these visits with hope that they had found a job for him but now she had stopped asking. Should she wait for him to get home and they could open the envelopes together. She dismissed this idea quickly as she knew he would make a feeble excuse to disappear it seemed that sorting out the finances was her job. Well it had been an easy job when times were good but an impossible one now. So with a sigh she put her coffee on the table beside the three envelopes and sat down. Maybe her luck had changed she hoped because last week in the Supermarket she had met Mrs Brown the dear old lady who had shared with her the hamper she had won. Mrs Brown had been so kind. Amy knew that she had given the biggest part of the hamper to Amy saying “you don’t eat much when you get older dear or my teeth won’t manage that”. Amy had been so grateful because it meant she could use the money to let her son Simon go on the school trip with his friends. She should of saved it for coming bills but seeing the look on his little face was worth the sacrifice. She would never forget Mrs Brown’s kindness and would make sure she called in every week to visit as she had promised.
She picked up the biggest envelope first and slit the top pulling out the contents. It was from Cancer Research asking for monthly contributions no matter how small. Amy felt bad when she tore this up but even small was impossible. In the past she never ignored a collector in the street but now she crossed the road to avoid passing them. The next envelope held no secret as it was clearly marked with the name of her energy supplier. She had tried so hard to be careful with her energy switching lights off, putting on extra clothes and putting hot water bottles in the beds but no matter what the amount she did not have the money. With trembling fingers she opened the account. £300 it could surely not be correct. She scanned the figures anxiously until she notice the “E” indicating it was an estimated bill. They would estimate on her previous bills and in the past Amy had never considered being cautious, she left lights on in empty rooms and had her heat blasting from morning until night sometimes all night in the winter. She would read her meter and send the reading into the company thereby buying her a bit more time to pay although she knew she would not be able to pay it they simply did not have enough income. She could not borrow anymore money from her parents she felt so embarrassed to ask them as they already helped by buying clothes for the children and never coming empty handed bringing groceries etc. on every visit. Someone had told her if you cannot pay they will come and put in a pre payment card meter. This works by buying credit from an appointed shop and inserting it into the meter. The meter will take a set amount from the sum which you owe and you will only get power from the remainder which is about half. This seemed unfair but she realized there would be no choice.
She looked at the third envelope summing up the strength to open it. She turned it over looking for a clue to it’s contents but it was just a plain white envelope, however, when she took a closer look at the typed address she observed it was addressed to Mrs Amy Gallagher not Mr & Mrs so it could not be a bill. She tore at the sealed part of the envelope and withdrew a sheet of white typed paper starting My Dear Amy. The letter was from her friend Sarah who she had not seen for several years as Sarah had moved out of the area when she married. Sarah wrote that her husband’s job was bringing him back home and she was so excited to be able to renew her friendship with Amy. Amy’s first reaction was pure joy she had missed Sarah so much when she moved away and at first they had long conversations on the telephone on a weekly basis but these calls got less and less until the had fizzled out and of course the telephone was one luxury that they had given up making do with essential calls made on a mobile. Sarah had written “we can do those all day shopping trips again when we would arrive home in the evening a little tipsy”. Amy froze she could not afford the price of a coffee never mind the amount they would spend on those shopping days equal to one week’s benefit money which she had spent in the past without a second thought. Of course it would be nice to resurrect the friendship but their lives were poles apart now. Amy felt depressed the letter had added to her problems she thought now she had to decide if she should reply and if she did what would she say. Amy jumped up and put on her coat and shoes she would go and visit Mrs Brown and tell her all about it she always felt better talking things over with her new friend.
If you enjoy reading about Amy in The Mail please keep looking for the next episode
The Mail The Mail The Mail The Mail The Mail
Return to short stories from The Mail