Defining Moment

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In Which Orion Writes a Letter

"Mortimer Clancy." The name rang throughout the room at the postal office of the small town, a name so strange, and so seeming not to belong to anyone who might live there that the very sound of it stopped wooden mailboxes from slamming, stopped people with their mouths open ready to lick stamps, and fell unrecognized upon the ears of even it's owner.

The poor disowned name bounced through the open door, and through all the streets of the town, turning into nothing but echoes, and had to be repeated a second time by the postmaster.

"Mortimer Clancy – " He held up a long envelope that bore a a few lines of tidy penmanship on it, precisely in the center At that very moment, the door opened, and a young lady, her hair windblown and her fingers inky blew in the door, and smiled.

"Good day, sir. Good day, postmaster.

"A letter for you, miss," he said, handing the letter the counter.

"Thank you," she said, paying the postage, and reading the return address, which was an unfamiliar series of letters an numbers, beginning with the name of a nearby university.

"Orion," she murmured, hurrying back out into the tumbling fall leaves, and tearing the envelope open as she walked. The wind whipped the paper about in her hands, but Maggie held it in a firm grasp, and eagerly took in the contents of the letter.

September 16, 18––

Dear Maggie,

Greetings from University! It is quite a splendid place. I don't much care for the gigantic eagle that looms over the great hall, for it looks – as eagles often have the habit of looking – quite angry, and holds in it's talons a combined bunch of arrows and lightning bolts. But other than that, I like it a great deal here, and am already getting on capitally. But I did not write to tell you of the architecture here. My uncle, in sending me off, gave me an immense package wrapped in brown paper, and tied up with twine. I am sure you know about this – no doubt you were his accomplice in plotting against me – but I was exceedingly pleased to remove the paper and find it was a copy of the first printing of one Complete Timeline of The World's History By Date and Geographical Location by Eustace Reid and Mortimer Clancy! Already some of the fellows have asked after it, and I have been able to tell them a short version of the remarkable story you told me of Eustace Reid, and, of course, of the remarkable Maggie Clancy. I am all eagerness to read it from cover to cover, but as such, I have only been able to page around in it. (Your drawings are truly wonderful.)

But, though I have already devoted a good deal of space to the above two digressions, that is not what this letter is about. I find in my absence I admire you more and more, and am forever grateful to the effect that getting to better know you has had on my view of history, indeed, my view of life, of the whole world. And speaking of life, I have begun to ponder, not my history, but my future. You know much of what I have determined to do with myself, but not all. I wish that you did, to spare me to difficult experience I am about to have in telling you.

I love you, Maggie. And I humbly ask, that when I have graduated here, and return back to that lovely eccentric little town, that you would do the honor of marrying me. I am no fool – I know you loved Eustace Reid once, and that first (for I don't believe that Phillip Melville incident to have been true love) but I admire you so greatly, respect you so highly, and love you so deeply that I will be content with whatever part of your heart that you have yet to give to a poor soul named after a constellation. My heart does not misgive me; I know that you feel something for me too, or I would not be writing so boldly. One does not clasp to the bosom as tightly as you did me someone for whom they do not care just a little.

Write me back, and set my mind at rest. I cannot study properly until I know your answer. And yet I feel that I have it already – you gave it to me in your eyes when we bade each other farewell last week. You are such a dear, transparent girl. Forgive my abominable handwriting, and give a shout in that lovely old manor of yours just to hear it echo.

At your every beck and call,

Orion Burns


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