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Angela Watt, 17 Sep '12

So what would you do in my shoes? The ticket had arrived unexpectedly in the post on just another ordinary Saturday. I’d heard the tuneless whistle of the postman, the rattle of the letterbox and the thud of the post hitting the hardwood floor in the hall. I’d wandered through in my pyjamas to pick up what I thought would be the usual dull post in the form of letters from the gas company or an offer I couldn’t possibly refuse to upgrade my mobile phone. And there it was in the middle of the usual gatherings – a square, white envelope. This wasn’t everyday post. This was something very different. I picked it up and knew that I was holding something of quality. I could feel the weight of it in my hand. It was not just another flimsy envelope barely covering the contents within. This envelope was substantial. It conveyed that its contents were important and that they were worth sending. It had an old-fashioned, things done properly way about it and most of all it looked expensive.

I could feel the thickness of the vellum under my fingers and as I turned it over, I saw my name and address were beautifully inscribed on the front of the envelope in brown ink. I didn’t recognise the writing as none of my friends or family wrote this exquisitely. There were curves and flourishes in the hand written letters of my name and address that I’d never seen or experienced before. It made me feel very important. Discarding the other mail, I sat in a chair at the table and contemplated the letter. Should I make tea to sip while I read the contents or even dig out that old letter opener we’d discarded and put at the back of a drawer once the days of text and email rendered it virtually useless? This letter demanded a ceremonious opening. It demanded attention and suddenly I felt shy about revealing its contents, wanting to keep them a secret, in case they didn’t meet my expectations.

It was too hard to resist though - a hand addressed letter to me marked private and confidential. I slid my fingers gently down the sealing strip breaking its contact with the envelope to reveal the contents. I pulled out what looked like a folded ticket of some description. Once opened, it seemed to be a first class air ticket to Venice. My eyes glanced backwards and forwards over the details on the ticket, trying to take it all in. Yes, it definitely was an air ticket to Venice. My name was firmly printed on it as the passenger and the departure date was only a few days away – in fact this coming Thursday. I returned to the envelope, searching in vain for some form of explanation. But there was nothing, no accompanying letter, no post-it note message, nothing. I got up and looked about the room, checking to see if anything had fallen from the envelope as I’d opened it. I looked through the other post – had anything else been delivered that would throw some light on the matter? There was nothing, absolutely nothing. I did make that cup of tea now and wondered about the mystery air ticket. Why had I received it and more importantly who had sent it? Was this some fantastic opportunity or was I just part of an elaborate hoax? The rest of the day and the weekend was a blur as I ran through options in my head, but each time nothing new arose. I was still at a complete loss.

British Airways were happy to confirm my reservation when I called them, but could only advise that Newton’s Travel Company in Sussex had arranged the ticket. I’d never heard of Newton’s Travel but they were my next call. They told me:

“Yes they did remember the ticket being bought as it was quite unusual.”

“What was unusual about it?” I enquired.

“Well the ticket was bought a couple of months ago but it was a cash purchase and that is quite unusual these days,” a cheerful travel rep advised me. She added that the ticket had been printed there and then and given to the buyer who said he would be sending it to you direct, Mr Davenport. We hope you have a wonderful trip,” they added. “Venice can be so lovely at this time of year.”

And so I was no further forward. Monday arrived and as the post hit the floor at the usual time of 9.30 am, I rushed through in case any further explanation was imminent. Another brown-inked square white envelope stared back up at me. This time there was no ceremony as I hastily tore it open. Into my hands fell reservations at the Hotel Danieli. Arrival was on Thursday and departure was a few days later. This name meant nothing to me and so I was astonished to find it was a 5 star luxury hotel, just moments away from St. Mark’s Square when I looked it up on Google. The letter advised that my suite- yes my suite, would be ready from 3 pm on my day of arrival. My heart beat quickened a pace although I couldn’t tell you if this was from the excitement of a suite in a luxury hotel in Venice or some type of advance warning.

On Tuesday I was in the hall waiting. Today’s brown-inked envelope brought confirmation that a water taxi had been booked to take me to the hotel and that someone from the taxi company would be waiting for me at the airport. This was beginning to get silly. When would it all become clear? There was only one more day before I was due to fly. Did I really intend to take this flight?

On Wednesday, I received the last message. It was once again an elegantly hand-written note addressed personally to me on Smythsons of Bond Street note paper. All it said was “Meet me in the lobby of the Danieli at 5 pm on Friday.”

And so that is how I find myself sitting up front on a British Airways flight to Venice, sipping champagne and wondering what on earth this is all about and why it is happening to me. Well, what else was I expected to do? You would have done the same if you were in my shoes wouldn't you?

And just as promised as I arrive with my bags at the airport, I see a sun scorched, dark haired, typical Italian man bearing a sign with the words: “Mr. Davenport” and I step forward and wave him over.

Comments · 3

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  • Angela Watt said...

    This is something a little different from the usual dark stuff that I normally end up writing for Burrst. I hope you like it and as always I'm grateful for any comments you might have.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    Though very little happens in this burst I was gripped! So many questions left unanswered. The first line is perfect, I kept asking myself the same thing! Very relatable and entertaining, you have a gift for capturing the everyman. Well done :D

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Angela Watt said...

    Thanks so much @Jessica Cambrook, especially your comment about capturing the everyman. That gave me a real boost. I shall be away now for a while, so see you again when I get back.

    • Posted 5 years ago