Unlike supply shipment day, mail day wasn’t met with much fanfare at Watchtower Ten. Some of the members of the crew were excited, of course, but others were less so. People who chose to move away from everyone they knew to work in the middle of nowhere generally didn’t have too many strong bonds with the outside world.
Still, mail did happen.
“Alright, mail truck comes at five today. If you’ve got anything to send, remember to drop it off in the mailbox.”
Kate nodded. Etta, by the look of it, was only barely awake. Bertie looked surprised.
Well, this was why he’d reminded them.
“Etta? You awake?”
“Mhmm. Mail at five, got it.”
Kate went down to the mailbox after breakfast. Mail wasn’t a secure form of communication, but at least she could check in with her dads.
She’d written the letter last night. She’d tried not to make it identical to the last one. Weather was still bad, team was still good, Bridge was still deserted. Still, she mentioned a prank Etta had pulled on Bertie and a weird old PSA she’d found in the archives.
She missed them. She was doing good work here, but she still wished this was the type of job that allowed for an internet connection.
Bertie had forgotten that it was mail day. He’d been very busy lately, he thought defensively. And anyways, most of the time he didn’t send out much mail.
But this time he had a birthday card to send. He’d bought a year’s worth of cards the last time he was on the mainland, but he hadn’t gotten around to filling this one out yet.
He filled it out, hesitating a moment before signing it “Uncle Bertie”. He wasn’t really her uncle, not by blood and not even by marriage. She’d been born during the engagement, though, and so they’d decided it would be easier to call him uncle from the start. And even after, well, Sofia had insisted. She’d told him he was still part of the family, and her daughter wasn’t going to lose another relative.
He sealed the card with a flower sticker, specifically bought for situations like this.
He dropped it off in the mailbox, then took a deep breath. He tried to feel the grief without letting it overwhelm him. He was getting better at that, maybe.
Etta hadn’t been avoiding writing to her aunt. No way. She’d just… not done it yet, that was all.
After lunch, she decided she should probably stop putting it off. She re-read her aunt’s letter. It was filled with small talk and stories about work.
Etta hated this. She hated how they didn’t know how to talk to each other. They never had, not really. Her aunt had never wanted children. And Etta didn’t want someone trying to replace her mom. Her aunt had done her best probably, but it just hadn’t been enough.
And now Etta was an adult and she hadn’t seen her aunt in years. Hadn’t talked to her except in the form of bland letters that were only sent because they felt a vague sense of obligation towards each other.
Etta started a reply, scrawling down a couple of anecdotes about work. When the letter looked long enough, she decided that it was good enough and signed it. She got it in the mailbox with a couple of hours to spare, then moved on to trying to figure out which story she’d broadcast next.
Roger realized what time it was a bit under an hour before mail time.
He went up to his room, grabbing the letter he’d written the previous night. He considered whether to bother sending it; it wasn’t a particularly promising lead, and she’d been missing for years.
He sent it anyways.
At five o’clock, the mail truck came. The mail carrier picked up three letters and one bright pink card.
Soon, someone would come out to collect the mail. Kate would read the letter from her dads. Bertie would hang the drawing from his niece on his wall, next to the others. Etta and Roger would go about their evenings as normal, not having received anything.
But that all would wait. At the moment, they were all busy.
Roger was chopping a bell pepper. Bertie was washing mushrooms. Etta was measuring rice. Kate was dealing with raw chicken.
It was time for team dinner. The outside world could wait.