He does not expect the stab of disappointment that tackles his insides when no Keith nor Tavvy greets him this morning. He scratches the back of his head awkwardly, thinking only now that sitting two minutes on the lawn waiting for a version of yesterday to repeat will most likely be considered as slacking off from work.
He picks himself up from where he’s daydreaming on the grass, pushing all wishful thoughts to the back of his mind. It can’t be helped; it’s a big neighborhood with a lot of mailboxes for him to check, and sometimes time just doesn’t work for their schedules to coincide.
Hell, he doesn’t even know where Keith goes to work, or if he does at all. All he knows about this interesting person is his name, that he owns a banana-suited corgi, and that he has an amazing pair of legs. It’s almost stupid how these loud lighthearted feelings hinge on those few minutes Shiro spent in his company.
There isn’t even any mail for this household today, and Shiro had made the sidetrip just to bring the borrowed towel back to the owner. He walks to the mailbox to deposit the freshly washed-and-dried article inside, pulls his hand back before he decides anything else.
Shiro takes his time in walking away, looking back twice at the empty house before finally deciding to leave the matter for good.
Of course he doesn’t exactly leave the matter for good. Shiro isn’t the type to give up on anything after exerting only minimum effort – he only ever gave up on cooking after wrecking the third oven.
Now, the immediate day after, he realizes it’s probably too conceited, too assuming of him to drop that unsolicited note in the mailbox along with the towel.
It’s nothing really – just a tiny purple post-it note with a modest caricature of a peeled banana saying:
Thank you again!
P.S. I kept my word – didn’t play with stranger’s balls today.
The innuendo sounded funnier in his head. Maybe he should have just kept it in his head.
Shiro sucks in a deep breath, internally reprimanding himself that he’s only a mailman, and not even Keith’s mailman considering they’d only met on one delivery on his first day, so the most appropriate label for him would still be ‘stranger’.
Except they’d already exchanged names. Maybe ‘acquaintance’ then?
Or just ‘the guy with the metal arm who got smothered by a dog’.
Either way, Shiro’s too overcome by embarrassment to go back to Keith’s lawn any time soon. Fortunately, there isn’t a lot of mail that arrived for his area so he can make his rounds quicker today, a fact that Shiro half dreaded and half thanked the heavens for.
Maybe if Keith had seen the note, he’d have a good laugh, then forget about it come afternoon. It really shouldn’t be a big deal. Shiro definitely shouldn’t be stressing out about what kind of reaction he had, or if he’s thinking about him, too.
A couple of days later, it arrives – mail for Keith.
Naturally, it’s within Shiro’s jurisdiction, so naturally he’s going to be dispatched to deliver the mail. Except he doesn’t accept it. In a panic, he pleads with his superior to switch jurisdictions for today with Sendy . It’s only for today, he promises.
He’s not even sure if he’ll catch Keith there today, but he’d rather not take the chance to show his face any time soon.
Boss Zarky shares a funny look with Sendy before agreeing. Apparently they know, but of course they know, Shiro can’t stop talking (muttering) about how what an embarrassing move it was to leave the note. They don’t let him go without teasing him a bit about bananas and balls.
“Don’t try to play with any balls today, Shiro,” Boss Zarky calls from his desk as Shiro runs off to get his bike.
“Or maybe you should grow some and deliver the mail yourself,” Sendy yells as he rides the opposite way. He doesn’t have to look back to know Shiro has ungracefully fallen of his bike.
When Shiro gets back in the office, he’s met with these questionably giddy and annoyingly knowing smiles, reminding him of that meme about high school girls grinning when one of their friend’s crushes passes by. He finally loses it when Sendy and Prorky start eating a banana – yes, a single banana – in front of him.
“Okay, what is it, you bullies?” Shiro mutters as he plops into his desk chair.
“Bullies?” Prorky says in mock hurt and self-defense. “I’m offended.”
“Is it wrong for us two big men to share a fruit?” Sendy shrugs, and Shiro almost fears for his large biceps tearing through the fabric of his uniform.
“You know that’s not what I’m talking about,” Shiro says, the heat returning to his face. He just can’t talk about anything related to Keith without getting flustered. “I mean, why should it be awkward for two friends to share a banana?”
“Exactly,” Sendy says as he lets Prorky take a bite. “I think leaving an innuendo in a stranger’s mailbox is much more awkward.”
Shiro chokes on his water bottle. He sputters, releases a string of unconnected syllables until Sendy surprises him by sticking a post-it note on his forehead.
“Guess what I found today in the same mailbox, Champ.”
It takes Shiro a moment’s delay to register what his coworker just plastered on his face before he unsticks the piece of paper to take a good look at it. All at once, he swears all these things happen – his skin clears, his crops flourish, his clan survives the winter unscathed.
In his hands he now holds Keith’s reply – a red sticky note with a doodle of what seems to be Tavvy in an R2-D2 costume with the following message:
You’re welcome! Glad to know the neighborhood balls stay safe.
P.S. Tavvy loves his new suit.
P.P.S. Missed you the other day, hope work’s okay.
Shiro’s about to burst into a million fragments of stardust. Squeezed into the bottom right corner of the paper is a messily written P.P.P.S., like an afterthought.
I mean ‘missed’ in the “I didn’t see you” way, not in the ‘yearning’ kind of way. Hahahahaha
He lets out an undignified snort – he imagines the way Keith would have done a ‘Hahahahaha’ in person. All the embarrassment he felt up until this point melts away like pee to the ocean – an unnecessary episode of emotional turmoil in a sea of miracles. This analogy doesn’t make sense, but Shiro doesn’t mind – all the romantic poetry he never knew he needed now runs within the ink in this tiny note.
“Someone looks like he’s just seen a unicorn pissing rainbows,” Prorky says as he throws the banana peel into the green waste basket. They like to keep their trash segregated.
“Give the man a pen and a sticky note,” Boss Zarky calls from behind his desk. “He’s going to need those when he breaks out of his giddy stupor.”
Virtually nothing has changed and the universe ensues walking on its mundane axis, but Shiro feels like he’s entered into a happier and more beautiful version of reality. The sky seems more infinite, the bright sun appears to be smiling, the birds sound like Snow White’s little posse of choir animals.
He cheerfully rides his bike, both nervousness and excitement building up at the prospect of seeing Keith this morning.
The lawn is empty when he gets there, but the disappointment doesn’t stab as much as the last time now that he knows he was ‘missed’ – if Keith thought about them not seeing each other, he most likely had expected them to meet again that day. It might be too conceited, too assuming of him to nurture this bubbling feeling of happiness and let it grow into a pool of ecstasy, but he can’t help it – he’s been weakened since.
He pauses by the mailbox – no letter has come in for this house today, but he’s got a personal delivery to make. This time, it’s a doodle of Star Wars VII’s Luke Skywalker with the robot prosthetic saying:
Now I know Tavvy loves something other than balls :)
P.S. Work’s alright, thank you. Missed you guys as well, in the “I didn’t see you” kind of way.
He posts the sticky note inside the door of the mailbox, knowing that it will definitely reach Keith, wondering if the unwritten words will seep through the ink.
The next day he finds a reply in the same place he had left his note. This time it comes with a polaroid of Tavvy in the white and blue Droid suit. The little corgi looks incredibly pleased sitting on sofa cushions in his outfit, grinning with his tongue lolling out.
Watched Episode VI last night. Here’s the suit that got the Tavvy-tail-wag of approval.
Shiro has to physically hang onto the mailbox to keep from falling into a melted heap on the grass. Once he’s pulled himself together, he fishes out a notepad and pen from his sling bag, and immediately scribbles the first things he thinks of:
THIS IS PRICELESS. SMILING LIKE AN IDIOT RIGHT NOW. MY DAY HAS BEEN MADE :)
P.S. Tell Tavvy Shiro says ‘Hi’
It’s silly, but he adds a messy self-portrait that looks like a potato-avocado hybrid with a fringe, attached to what seems like a simple straw-like body with a single arm waving hello. He can definitely do better, but he can’t stop his hand from shaking as much as he can keep himself from smiling.
The picture of Tavvy is something Shiro keeps in his wallet and brags about to his colleagues when he gets back to the office.
There’s another polaroid in the mailbox the next day. This time, it’s of Keith standing beside the fridge with Tavvy slung in one arm, and Shiro’s self-portrait among other pictures and a variety of magnets.
Guess which art piece made it to our fridge.
P.S. It’s a recipient of the most coveted Tavvy-tail-wag.
Shiro can’t believe it. He feels like a dozen suns combusting simultaneously. This definitely can’t eb real. Keith and Tavvy aren’t real and Shiro’s just high on a gallon of ice cream.
Finally, one of my goals has been achieved. It’s an honor.
P.S. Here’s a photo of the guys in the office when I showed them the polaroid you sent me. I mean, it’s okay to feel like a father bragging about his son, right?
Too conceited, too assuming, too giddy and filled with a million butterflies in his stomach. He keeps Keith’s picture in the breast pocket of his uniform for the whole day, where it’s closest to his heart. Unlike the first, he doesn’t brag about this photo to anyone, and keeps it to himself instead like a most beautiful secret.
Shiro now keeps three pictures in his wallet – one he took of himself and his family, the other two given to him by Keith. The one with Keith’s face on it is hidden away behind Tavvy’s solo pic, and Shiro only takes it out like a secret lucky charm before he sets out of his apartment.
And somehow it does work, because as he finds out an hour later into his daily rounds, a Christmas miracle just came early in the form of Keith’s reply note. It says:
Which one of these hooligans placed that ball on the lawn the first time we met? I’d like to thank them.
P.S. I bet it was Sendy. He likes to play with my son.
P.P.S. So you feel like Tavvy’s father? :) But I am Tavvy’s father. Tsk, too soon, Shiro, you have to ask me out first before speaking about marriage like that.
Once again Shiro finds himself having to literally hang onto the sturdy frame of the mailbox just to keep from metaphorically disintegrating. His heart feels like a ticking time bomb enclosed in his ribcage.
How do you even respond to this unexpected straightforward assault to the heartstrings? Shiro can’t deal. Everyone thinks Shiro is the type of person who can handle anything calmly, but no, this much happiness isn’t something he can definitely contain within himself in any composed manner. He’s convinced that in any version of reality, however this innocent flirting would have gone, Keith will never fail to take him by surprise and steal his breath away.
He makes a mental note to buy Sendy some bananas on the way back.
Shiro leaves a reply right before cheerfully riding off on his bike.
Yes. Tavvy I am your father.
P.S. Alright, you convinced me :) :) :)
Dinner this weekend?
Yes | No
Shiro doesn’t expect to see two notes posted on the inside of the mailbox door.
The first one is computerized on a short bond paper cut in half, nothing but his name printed on the front side. An unsettling bubble of nervousness erupts in his gut, but curiosity lights up the torch and leads the way – after all, who else would leave a letter for him in Keith’s mailbox? Shiro unsticks the folded paper and opens it - simple in design, yet heavy on substance.
We’ve been noticing your little notes in the mail. We also notice that those tiny things make our son happy. We’d like to meet you and take you up on your offer for dinner before we return upstate this weekend. How does homemade mac & cheese this Friday at 7PM sound?
Thace & Ulaz
He has to literally walk around the lawn to breathe right after he reads it. How does one physically, mentally, and emotionally recover from that? So Keith has two dads and they both want to meet him.
The second one beside it is written on Keith’s signature red sticky note.
Tavvy won’t mind two dads, but his grand-dads would like to meet you first :)
P.S. Honestly, took you long enough :) :) :) It’s a YES for me.
So, our house this Friday?
Yes | No
Friday evening – there’s a bag of bananas left on Sendy’s desk. Also, Shiro’s bike is parked outside Keith’s porch.