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“Come on, Nana. I’m makin’ us a path!”

Swinging a big stick machete-style, Fanny’s five-year-old grandson hacked at weeds and bushes on the overgrown trail that led from the house to the lake. The house had been a bargain. It had been empty for almost seven years, abandoned in a frenzy of illness, divorce, and untimely death—maybe even murder, or so rumors went.

Moving in just before the snows began, there had been no time for Fanny to explore beyond the large yard that surrounded the house. But, after a long, snowbound winter of cleaning, repairing, and painting, spring finally had the upper hand. The snow had melted, the sun was warm, and this weekend her grandson Jack was visiting for the first time.

“Watch me, Nana! Look what I can do!” Jack said with a scowl of determination pinching his blonde eyebrows.

Fanny smiled back as Jack began thrashing reedy grasses and the branches of a wild rose bush that had spilled onto the path. “You’re doing a great job,” Fanny was saying when they both saw the weathered envelope. It had been hidden under the part of the bush Jack had just massacred.

“Look! Here’s some mail,” Jack said, handing the envelope to Fanny, “Is it yours?”

“No, sweetie, it’s not mine.” There was no address, just a faded “D” underlined twice. Turning the square envelope over, Fanny saw an embossed monogram, “RDS”, on the little triangle flap. The flap was sealed shut along its glued edge, and with a round, gold sticker bearing the same monogram.

“This is expensive stationery,” Fanny said, “I wonder what this letter is doing here?” She also briefly wondered if she should open it, taking another moment to contemplate the envelope before she slipped her finger under the sticker, tearing the seal. Prying loose the rest of the flap, she removed a single sheet of cream-colored paper, folded in half.

“Nana, we’re not supposed to read other people’s mail,” Jack said, clearly surprised by his Grandmother’s breach of etiquette.

“It’s okay this time, Jack. We don’t know whose letter this is, and the only way to find out so we can give it back is to look inside for a name,” Fanny said as she stared at the loopy black script laced across the page.

“All is forgiven. Please believe me, please. I want to go home–I need some rest. I’m spending the night on the boat. If you still want to leave, just come to the boat by 7 tomorrow morning. You are forgiven! Trust me, please. Love, R.”

Like the “D” on the envelope, the three words, “Trust me, please” had been underlined twice.

Gazing at the lost message, Fanny suddenly found a tight knot of tears threatening to unravel. Forgiveness, the most difficult of all gifts to give and receive. The forgiveness for which she had waited in vain all those long years. And now, in her hands, she held that gift meant for someone else. The knowledge that someone had been forgiven and might never have known was almost unbearable. Fanny carefully re-folded the letter and tucked it back into the envelope, already planning how she would start her search for “D”.

“Nana, come on!” Jack pleaded, “Aren’t we still going to the lake?”

“Yes, we are, Jack,” Fanny said, putting the letter in a back pocket, “I’m right behind you.”

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