#ThirdTimesTheCharm: A Letter from a sinner to his lover

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The following is a letter referenced in Third Time’s The Charm;

Somewhere around the twentieth letter she had given up any idea of secrecy or discretion. She drank up his words until her veins felt infused with his longing, rage, bitterness, humor, nostalgia and love, so much love.


My dearest Mary,

I woke this morning with the scent of you as clear as touch in my nose. You’d say that makes no sense if you were here, smell and touch are two different things, you’d say, and then I’d delight in arguing with you. Just because. It’s a sad truth that no one argues with me these days, unless you count Theresa. But there’s no joy in that, it’s like arguing with a child, pointless and absurd. There’s no joy in anything anymore. No, that’s a lie, which, again, were you here, you would be the first to call me on.

What I mean is, I could have sworn on a stack of Bibles that you were here, so strong was the scent of you in my bed. That lightly perfumed body soap mixed with the sweat of our bodies and the detergent you used on our sheets. Sheets you bought for me, or I bought, since it was my money that you would then spend on me so we could carry on pretending I wasn’t paying for everything anyhow. I think that was probably my first mistake–hard to tell, I made so many–not being more honest with you. The irony in that is I was just honest enough to hang myself, to give you the ammunition to destroy us, but not enough to give you a reason to stay. I get that. I really do. Doesn’t change anything, you’re still gone.

But everywhere I see the ghost of you, and worse, our son. Every red-headed woman turning a corner makes that cruel burst of longing re-appear, and every little boy’s laughter, a fresh knife-wound.  The only thing that helps a bit is rocking Kiki to sleep as I did with Tommy. I even agreed to try for another baby with Theresa, thinking that would help, but it just highlights what I’ve lost. I could have a thousand children and love them all, but my heart will never stop missing the one you stole from me.

First, you stole my heart, then my child, and now I am beginning to think you’ve stolen my hope as well. On the other hand, maybe that theft would be a blessing. Hope is a worse poison than anger or hatred. At least with vengeance in my heart, I have a purpose. Would that you could come home long enough to steal my memories as well. Without them, I might be free for once.

Yes, you’re right. That’s a lie, too.

I’ll never be free of you, and I don’t think I want to be. When I was with you I felt the most free I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt like I could just be Michael Downey, the man who loves Mary Gates. Michael Downey, Tommy’s father. Michael Downey, the guy who remembers to set the garbage on the curb, call his mother, buy you flowers on your birthday. Just a regular Joe, no pun intended. See, I still hear your laughter in my ears when I would make a bad pun like that, and I wouldn’t even have had to explain that I was talking about Big Joe and how un-“regular” he is. You just knew. You just knew me, the real me, better than you can possibly realize. Just like you knew even before your mind wanted to accept it that I was a criminal. It was never that you didn’t know me well enough to know I loved you, wanted to be with you and Tommy and not her. It was that you had no faith in me to do something about it.

And that’s where I’m at now, where the theft of hope began, I’m left with the bitter knowledge that the only woman I ever let into my soul had no faith in what she saw. She saw more liar than lover, more sinner than father. If you would have had just a little more faith in me maybe I could have found a way to be all those things at once. That‘s the chicken and egg of it all, did I kill your faith or did your lack of faith make me what you saw? A man who valued power more than his family. Unfortunately, just as I’m not the only thief between the two of us, I’m not the only killer. Because your lack of faith killed that hopeful man named Michael Downey.

Oh, I can just see your eyes narrow, your nostrils flare, and your cheeks flush as fiery red as your hair at the injustice of that statement. 

Come home and argue with me about it. I dare you. 

I love you, always,


Read the rest of the letters here: Letters From Mickey Downey

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