The breakup had been painful for Charlotte, as her life had been tangled up in Greg’s. She wasn’t on the lease and had no legal recourse but to get gone. He was very clear.
“C’est la vie,” she said, and her accent was perfect. She was proud of her French accent, even in more complex sentences.
An envelope tumbled through the street with a gust of wind. It seemed to have come from nowhere, likely escaped from a bag of unsecured trash, but it was printed on a high quality paper, and clearly marked urgent in enough languages that it caught the attention of a polyglot like Charlotte.
The envelope had no return address, nor did it have an intended recipient, and Charlotte, having no address and being not at all the person she had intended to be, decided she had every entitlement to this mail, more than anyone she knew.
The paper was tough, almost leather. The seal holding it closed seemed to be metal, not a familiar one, maybe beryllium? She strained as she tried to to pull it apart. It was hot to the touch, and she had to hold the missive against her shirt. The rip of the stack of papers clanged and echoed in the city around her into fragments on the ground. She gathered them, and held them together:
“TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
A QUIEN CORRESPONDA
À QUI CENA CONCERNE
AMBAYE INAWEZA WASIWASI
SEHR GEEHRTE DAMEN UND HERREN
DON TÉ LENA MBAINEANN
AL KIU GI POVAS KONCERNI”
Every page contained a single phrase, and even though she didn’t know all the languages involved, she quickly flipped through the several sheets of paper, enjoying the Rosetta Stone she had found. She quickly learned several translations of the following letter:
“YOU HAVE BEEN USING THE SUN WITHOUT PERMISSION. SERVICE WILL TERMINATE ON AUGUST FIFTH. PLEASE MAKE ANY NEEDED PREPARATIONS.”
She read through the German version a few times, getting her tongue around the sounds. The grammar seemed archaic, but she felt confident in the phrases, and moved onto the Korean, which she had learned to read in her year abroad. She wasn’t sure if she was getting the intonations quite right, but she felt that a native speaker could probably decipher her accent if she repeated herself slowly and loud.
All the romance languages were interesting to compare, especially the Romanian, which she had never before come across. She hoped they rolled their Rs, because she purred them seductively, and they sounded brilliant. If Greg heard, maybe he would take her back.
“Je suis tellement chanceux,” she said as she ran back to the old apartment. “Fare permisiune.”