Contest Winner- Love Letters From London

Short story contest winner, Katy Stewart, shines light upon LGBTQ endeavors, reveling in foreign romance.


She had visited the shop countless amounts of times. Only two blocks away from her apartment, the local secondhand bookstore was where London found herself dedicating every hour of her free time. Somehow, her feet would happen to travel that direction most days she was out. She couldn’t waste such a splendid latte on something as dull as organizing her closet. The rainy weather is just screaming for a day spent with her head in between pages. And of course, she should take a well-deserved break after leaving her job at the museum. Well, those were her justifications for winding up at The Constellation Cat as frequently as she did, browsing shelf after shelf of pre-loved novels. 

One ordinary Tuesday, London had woken up earlier than usual and effortlessly decided to stop by The Constellation Cat before the day got busy. Getting dressed, she headed out the door and began her walk to the shop. As expected, the worker behind the register exchanged pleasantries upon her entry. Making her way to the recently added cart, she flipped through pages and skimmed summaries, but nothing seemed to grab her attention. London wandered through the rows, occasionally stopping to check the conditions of some hardcovers that seemed like good finds. But it wasn’t until she stumbled to the paperback section in the corner that she found what she was looking for. How the Petals Found Their Colors, by Reed Whitfield. Although the cover was in fairly good condition, the edges felt soft from friction, and ink smudges scattered the back. She could tell this had been somebody’s favorite, and when she opened it for the first time she was met with the name and address of the previous owner. Sage Iverson, located on the outskirts of the city. This was the first time there was ever a name, and upon further inspection, she noticed the book was littered with heavy annotations, all in the same scribbly black pen. For some reason, London was curious to read along with this stranger and headed to the cashier.

Never in her life was a book finished so fast, and soon she found herself rereading it again front to back within the next days to come. But it wasn’t until she clutched the book to her chest after her third reread that she noticed something strange. She couldn’t remember the last chapter that well, as she had spent most of her attention on the handwriting alongside the fine print. London felt she had shared a touching moment with this stranger through the novel, which is what prompted her to sit down at her work desk and pull out an envelope, paper, and some stamps. Checking the mail became a repeated habit as she waited eagerly for a response, until finally she received a letter addressed to her, decorated with a doodle of a sage stem on the front.

Over the course of a month, writing and receiving letters had become the highlight of London’s life. Somehow, they even tore her away from The Constellation Cat as she would rush home eagerly in the hopes of being greeted by mail. Correspondence with Sage seemed to improve every day, and she found herself getting to know them more and more. She knew their favorite shows, color, hobbies, everything down to the way they tied their shoes. ( In case you were curious, they used the bunny ear method ). Sage occupied every space in London’s head for the next few weeks. 

Because of that, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when London felt a tap on her shoulder as she stood at the same table she had found How the Petals Found Their Colors. It also shouldn’t have been a surprise when she turned around to find Sage, leaning over her with their face in a hopeful grin. But what surprised London the most was not her own feelings or the way that Sage had managed to find her. What surprised her the most was the way Sage wrapped their arms around her waist and drew her in for a long, deep kiss. Because she had fallen for someone through their words on a page, and she knew that if she was a flower, her petals would be the most pigmented ones in the garden.