Short Stories & Flash Fiction
Comments 43

Life Among Old Paper

The letter was marked number 66/41/C/8504 and mixed in with the correspondence of someone else. This was the only reason her name had survived the purging of her family when they sought to scour all trace of her from their history.

Wincing at the creak of old paper straining beneath the pull of modern fingers, Anna unfolded the letter.

“To my dearest Father, I am sorry…”

The rest is faint, the ink is much older than Anna and almost lost to time’s fading. She wonders if whoever wrote it can see someone has found her words and is finally listening.


Back in Shrewsbury our archives are right next to the library and for me the two sites share so many similarities that one always makes me think of the other.

This entry was posted in: Short Stories & Flash Fiction


Carol J Forrester is a writer and a history geek. Her debut collection 'It's All In The Blood' came out November 2019. She has a 2:1 BA degree in history from Bath Spa University, enjoys judo at least twice a week, and tries to attend poetry events around the Midlands when she can. Her flash fiction story ‘Glorious Silence’ was named as River Ram Press’ short story of the month for August 2014 and her short story ‘A Visit From The Fortune Teller’ has been showcased on the literary site Ink Pantry. Her poems ‘Sunsets’ and ‘Clear Out‘ were featured on Eyes Plus Words, and two of her poems were included in the DVerse Poets Pub Publication ‘Chiaroscuro’ which is available for purchase on amazon.Her poem ‘Until The Light Gets In‘ was accepted and published at The Drabble and her poem ‘Newborn’ was published by Ink Sweat & Tears. She has been lucky enough to write guest posts for sites such as Inky Tavern and Song of The Forlorn and has hosted a number of guest bloggers on her site Writing and Works.


  1. Carol, Your description is so good I can see it happening. Much writing and many books have been destroyed but the love of reading continues and books and letters survive. Well written. — Susan

    • Indeed. I’m currently going through a collection of letters my Thomas Hill for my history dissertation and hoping they will shed some light on the mystery that is his sister. Old letters are fantastic portals into the past.

  2. I loved the concept of old paper ‘creaking and straining against the pull of modern fingers’. Nice one.

    • I’m glad you think so. Going through old letters at the archives for my dissertation has given me a lot of experience with terrifying moments when you think the page may not stand any more unfolding.

  3. Caerlynn Nash says

    I wonder what she was sorry for and it’s a shame her father never got her apology. Well written. This could the the seed for a bigger story.

    • I wouldn’t be so sure. It could be that the letter is taken from a collection of letters he kept and were later donated into an archive by a family member.

    • I’m not sure, they will certainly be differences but some people still keep journals and write letters. More may survive longer even with digital copies often facing the wear of time better than pieces of paper in someone’s garage or attic.

  4. “Wincing at the creak of old paper straining beneath the pull of modern fingers…”: How wonderfully put!
    A thoughtful write. 🙂

    • It is! I love reading old letters, though you find ‘the’ is replace with ye a lot which can be confusing and some short hands leave a lot of head scratching to cope with.

  5. That connection we feel with people long gone when we hold a piece of the past in our hands is beautifully captured in your story.

    Good luck with your dissertation – it sounds very interesting

    • Thank you, I’ve been debating doing a series of posts about it but I’m still on the fence somewhat. It’s been lovely to hear that so many people feel the same way when presented with the chance to read someone else’s words from a hundred or so years ago.

  6. I love that a clerical error has saved some of her history. The idea of purging someone from history is quite chilling.

    • It is, but historians have a tendency to deny the purgers their goal and dig even deeper into those who have been shadowed in the past.

  7. I connected so strongly with your character here. Whenever I’m in museums, or looking at old photos or artefacts, I’m thinking exactly that – I wish this person could know that here I am, noticing them, and appreciating that they were once alive. I get overwhelmed with the sadness that lives once lived so richly are now gone, and the only evidence left is this or that little snippet of history. Sorry for gushing – your story got to me.

    • It’s sort of nice to hear that my writing can evoke such emotions or memories of those emotions. It’s also lovely to hear about someone taking such an intrest in history and those who lived it.

  8. A nicely crafted piece with some beautiful lines. You have set the bar very high for everyone else to follow. 🙂

  9. shanx says

    Loved the entire concept. The fragile old papers, creaking, to be handled with care, and then the last sentence. Superb! Love for books, reading continues to live on, always 🙂

  10. I love the thought of creaking old paper. I fear this pleasure will be a thing of the past soon – few are taught cursive writing so in a few years, no one will be able to read it! So sad. Well done.

  11. I love reading old letters. They give us a snapshot of the times. A cousin gave me a stack that my grandfather had written and mailed home from California around 1912. Nothing earth-shattering in the text, but a glimpse into what life was like for an 18 yr. old a thousand miles from home.

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