The Sign Up
On my way to my favorite bookstore, I noticed a sign in the window where you could sign up to write to a pen pal. Smiling sweetly, I thought about the lovely idea; writing to some stranger and telling them about your day or just to converse with them. There were no other details, except to go inside to the café if you had additional questions. I shrugged my shoulders and went into the bookstore to browse the wooden shelves; the idea placed in the back of my mind as I started building my stack.
This was a common occurrence in my life, collecting books to read; often the stack included five or six books, today it was seven. New releases always managed to snag my eye and this time, I had to grab a basket to carefully balance them on the way to the register.
“I’m sorry, but our registers are down. We have to perform an upgrade every now and then to improve our service. You can purchase your books in the café. Sorry about that,” the cashier told me, nothing they could do at the moment.
“No problem. I was planning on reading up there anyways. Thank you,” I stated, smiling politely. I turned and walked down the middle of the store towards the café. Ascending the stairs, I made my way to their register, paying for my books and a hot tea. I sat down at a table and picked up a book from my large stack, beginning to read.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a table with two people – a man and a woman – sitting at it, sheets of paper sitting on top of it. The sign hanging from the edge was identical to the one in the window of the bookstore. It brought back the idea from before, something telling me that I had to sign up today. I watched as two girls approached and wrote down something – my guess would be their names and addresses – walking away when finished with the paper. It gave me enough courage to approach the table, curiosity growing inside me.
“Hi. Want to sign up to be someone’s pen pal?” the man greeted me. He had brown hair, silver strands at his ears, green eyes and a mustache; he was wearing a gray t-shirt and blue jeans, frames encasing his green eyes. His partner, a woman with light blonde hair not quite gray yet but I guessed she was around the same age as him. Her eyes were a dark shade of brown almost like chocolate. She had on a red blouse and black jeans, a friendly grin on her face.
“Do you e-mail or is it texting?” I asked, fingers itching to pick up a pen.
“Neither, dear. Old-fashioned letters are sent to your correspondent. Technology is great but maybe a bit of nostalgia can have you connect to another person in a different way,” the woman answers, a twinkle in her eyes.
“For how long?”
They both looked at each other beaming with a love I longed to have myself.
“You’re an inquisitive girl. No one else has bothered to ask any questions. My name is Frank Williamson and this is my wife Gloria. The length doesn’t matter as long as you can be able to connect with someone special,” the man explained.
“What an amazing concept. Do we select who we write to or is it randomly selected?” I asked, grabbing a pen and writing my information down.
“Once the deadline hits tonight we’ll call everyone tomorrow to come in and grab his or her pen pal’s information. It’s up to you to start corresponding with each other. Just so it’s a mystery, the girls will come in the morning, the men in the evening,” Gloria replies, smiling as she handed me a business card. I took it and told them goodbye, returning to my seat and reading for another hour before going home. I had no idea signing up would lead me to fall in love with a charming super soldier.
Scrambling to the bookstore to pick up several new releases before it closed, I found myself curious over the pen pal thing. I had seen it a few days ago but didn’t have the courage to sign up for it. Tonight felt like I should, a feeling I couldn’t shake from my mind. I grabbed a basket and stuffed it full of books in a hurry to buy them before the store closed at nine. As I waited in line, I noticed the people hosting the pen pal event were packing up, my chance at signing up slipping away. Finally, my turn came and I watched painfully as the couple walked past.
“Wait! Hang on; I’d like to sign up for that pen pal thing. I just didn’t have time to stop by earlier. Please, I’m about to finish up,” I stated, disappointed that I had waited too long.
“All right, young man. We’ll wait for you. You haven’t missed the deadline yet,” the woman told me.
“Thank you. So it’s actual letters right? No e-mails?” I asked, picking up my bag of books.
“Yes, old-fashioned letters. A different way of connecting to others,” the man replied.
“Do we choose or is it randomly chosen?”
“Another inquisitive person. We’re Frank and Gloria Williamson. We’ll call you tomorrow night to grab your correspondent. You don’t get to meet in person with each other. A mystery until you decide to take that step on your own,” he continued as he gave me the sheet to write down my information.
“That’s perfect. I’m eager to see who my pen pal is going to be. Thanks for waiting. I meant to sign up a few days but I got a little busy,” I told them.
“No. Thank you. It’s nice to see people loving nostalgic things. Here’s our card. We’ll call you. I even have a great idea on who your pen pal will be,” Gloria commented. We exited the store and I returned to the compound to read alone in my room. Somewhere in Manhattan a woman sat in her bed as well, a book in her hands reading late in the night; two people destined to fall in love through letters.