“This is getting ridiculous.” Maggie yelled, crumpling a page of the letter into a ball and throwing it hard against the opposite wall.
“Well, he’s been threatened. Repeatedly. That’s bound to make anyone a little paranoid. We’ll ask him not to next time.” Nan answered carefully, always the peacekeeper between her sister and brother.
“William sent us a letter, in code. When I translated it out, it was in code again. And that was in a third code! Each message took an hour to decode, and then another, and then another.” Maggie was balling up more and more paper, throwing them at her sister’s head now. “And even that isn’t the whole letter! He’s sent us a paragraph a day for the last six days, and the letter isn’t finished yet!”
“He doesn’t want anyone else to get his messages,” Nan offered weakly, “His sisters are the only ones who can know his secrets.” She says the last part like she wasn’t one of his sisters, like she hadn’t sat there just as frustrated as they discovered the third code of the paragraphs.
“Why? What are they going to do with the fact that the orange shipment that he received wasn’t as good as he thought it was? Or with the fact that he got a green jacket for Christmas?” Maggie threw the last piece of untranslated paper at her sister, nailing her in the center of the forehead.
This was the way of the Davis siblings. Maggie was loud and brass and sure that nothing in the world could hurt her—no matter what they threatened. William was quiet and fearful and believed that the only way to remain safe was to act cautiously, growing more and more fearful the older they got. And Nan went back and forth between them, begging Maggie to be more careful, and asking William to take more risks—the glue that held the family together and keep everyone moving forward in the world.
Nan sighed as the paper hit her, but didn’t rise to the anger that Maggie wanted. Instead, she tried to appeal to Maggie’s logic. “What do you want me to do, Mags? The Letter is probably all sent now, all in its code. I already agreed that we should ask him not to do this again. What else do you want me to do?”
Maggie shifted uncomfortably in her seat—trying to think of something, anything, to demand from Nan now—but she couldn’t come up with anything. “I still don’t like having to decode letters from my brother’s a paragraph an hour at a time.”
“It should be over tomorrow,” Nan offered, based more on hope then on actual proof. “One more hours work and we’ll have the whole letter.”
“I sure hope so,” Maggie groaned, letting her head fall against the desk in front of her. “For my sanity’s sake.”
And for my patience’s sake, Nan added in her own head, getting up to clean up the mess of paper’s Maggie had left.