Sue Allen has worked in the small post office on the corner of Bird Drive since she was 21, she is now 41. It is a quiet post office, which asks and expects little from her. She likes the fact that the manager still does not know her name and switches it from Sarah to Cindy regularly, despite the name tag she wears.
Sue Allen’s job pays a good enough sum to support her uneventful life. She has enough money to pay for her one room apartment and the food she eats, as well as the cat food she buys for the neighbours, fat, irritable ginger cat who essentially lives with her, and who she doesn’t have the heart to throw out, despite her raging allergies.
Every day, for the past 20 years, Sue Allen has arrived at work in the morning, hung up her coat and proceeded to the room she fondly thinks of as her own. Sue Allen sorts out the postal packages that have been damaged on their trips, she feels through the envelope for the extent of their damage before stamping the bright red “Return to sender” stamp onto it. This is a perfectly boring job, ideal for someone who lacks curiosity of any kind.
Sue Allen is allowed to open the packages if she feels closer inspection is called for. This has only happened upon two occasions. Occasions, Sue Allen remembers vividly for their rude disruption of her orderly day. The first had been a crudely-made bird house, a gift from a eager grandchild to a grandmother. The roof of the house had been torn apart, not surprising as it seemed to be stuck together solely with tape. Sue Allen had been sad to send this back, especially after reading the note attached to it, signed by, “Your bestest grandchild.”
The second misshapen package was a framed picture of a couple kissing. A feeling of anger and resentment had risen up at the sight of the lovers’ embrace. She’d violently resealed it and stamped the envelope. She pretended the pain she felt had come from the cut she’d received upon pulling the frame out and not the raw pain caused from the feeling that you are not loved.
It was with apprehension that Sue Allen halted her dutiful work. She let her fingers move around the package she held, feeling the broken shards within it. Obviously the item had been smashed beyond repair. She reached for the stamp, then stopped. The unfamiliar feeling of curiosity bubbled up into her fingertips and begged to be satisfied. Before she could stop them, they had sliced open the envelope and let the insides come tumbling out. She was left with a disturbing mess, the product of curiosity.
They were pieces of some sort of tile, broken as if they had been stamped on. This couldn’t have happened in the post, these mutilated insides must have been deliberately smashed before they were put in. She shook her head at the absurdity of sending damaged goods. She picked a piece up, it resembled the pupil of an eye, turning the tiles up she realised they were the broken pieces of a face. She quickly set to work with an uncharacteristic look of glee upon her face.
She stepped back to view her masterpiece. It was the face of a woman, wrinkles had just begun to crease her skin and her hair had started greying. Her eyes were a startling light blue. The sun was hitting the tile, from the corner window of the small room; it gave her the impression of winking at Sue Allen. The expression of profound sadness stained her features. Sue Allen wondered at this sadness, she reached for the letter that had accompanied the woman.
It was lovingly addressed and said, “You think you are so broken right now, but look, my darling, you can be put back together.” Sue Allen began to cry. Her tears splattered onto this beautiful note and the beautiful tiled face of the woman. She realised it was not damaged goods she worked with every day; but rather goods in need of repair. Sue Allen had come across the epiphany that people were not damaged either, simply in need of repair by someone else’s loving hand or even their own.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalms 147:3)
Story by Amy Curry