It was late afternoon when I arrived home from work. I was tired and sunburned, and dirt was streaked across my face and caked to my clothes.
I set my lunchbox in the foyer and kicked off my steel-toed boots.
“Hey, Peter,” called my girlfriend, Joanne. “Is that you?”
She came padding into the living room in her socks. She was still dressed in her nurse’s uniform. “How was work?”
“Brutal,” I said, slogging into the kitchen and sitting at the table. I wasn’t allowed to sit on the living-room furniture until I’d taken my after-work shower. “We had sprinkler lines break at two different houses, so I spent most of the day digging. I’m exhausted.”
“Well, check this out,” Joanne said, handing me a folded piece of paper. “Your parents forwarded this. It was sent to their house by a Professor Evitts.”
“Professor Evitts?” I frowned and unfolded the paper.
“Yeah,” Joanne said. “Does that ring a bell? Did you know her in college?”
I read through the letter.
“Oh, wow!” I said, my eyes widening. “I know what this is! I can’t believe it!”
“What?” Joanne asked.
“Professor Evitts was one of my junior-year English professors,” I said. “And one of our assignments was to write a letter to ourselves two years into the future. We were supposed to write about where we were going to be and what we were going to be doing. She promised to mail them when the time came.”
“So you gave her your mom and dad’s address?” Joanne asked.
I nodded. “Yeah. I knew I was going to be moving after school, so I didn’t know what other address to use. This is so cool! It’s dated and in my own handwriting, like a time capsule! I feel like Marty McFly in the third Back to the Future movie, when Doc sends him a letter from 1885 through Western Union.”
“Well, quit nerding out and read it!” Joanne said. “I want to hear this.”
I unfolded the letter and read it aloud: “Dear Peter: I hope wherever you are, this letter finds you well. I’m sure by now that you’re working at a newspaper, or maybe a magazine, and that you’re spending your off-hours writing a novel. College is tough right now. You have three papers due by Friday, but I know it’s going to be worth it. Your degree is going to open all sorts of doors. Remember, you love to write. The written word is your passion, and the reason you exist. I hope you have a job that allows you unleash your inner creativity to its fullest expression. Don’t settle, Peter. All this hard work is going to be worth it. It’s all going to pay off and open the door to the job of your dreams. Keep believing that, and most important of all, keep writing. That’s why you were put on this planet, and that’s what you’re meant to do. Best wishes always, Peter.”
I slowly set the paper atop the table, then stared into space. I could feel Joanne looking at me.
After a moment, she said, “Wow. What happened to that optimistic dreamer, Peter?”
I shrugged. “He took a job mowing lawns, I guess.”