Love Letters #41

Dear Hana,

Do you know what a wastrel is? I didn’t either, until Master Jeffman called me one today. A wastrel of a boy, he said, shaking his meaty fist at me. What is a boy to do, when called a wastrel? What did I do? I fed the pigeons with his share of the corn, that’s what I did. I fed the pigeons and thought of new ways to become a worse wastrel than I already am. He missed his corn, at supper, and blamed the cook, who was beside herself. I felt truly a wastrel, then, and owned up to it. Suffice it to say that my revenge was short-lived, and I must be more resourceful in future when I decide to carry out acts of subtle retaliation.

On Saturday Twig and I stole some bread from the kitchen. It was for the ducks by Het’s Pond – they seem a little on the waify side lately. Twig reckons it might be because the pond has frozen over, and they have nowhere to fly to. If you’re really quiet of a frosty dawn, you can hear all the manner of bird calls. Jenny wrens, jack daws, tom tits and robin redbreasts. The ducks are quiet, then. You can see them just about waking up, stretching their wings and giving their feathers a sleepy shake. The world is beautiful at dawn; we swing our legs over the side of the bridge and yearn to fish – only we can’t break that stubborn, thick surface of the water.

Twig reckons they should have called it ‘Het’s Lake’, on account of the pond being 40 acres wide. I told him quite dismissively that the idea had already been put to the Council, but to no avail. Twig reckons he is a visionary. He has started wearing those glasses he’d squirrelled away last year, and introduces himself now to the others, the new ones, as ‘Dr Blackadder’. Never to the Masters, of course, they would whip him to a pulp. A prime fellow is my brother, I say, in utmost sarcasm.

In the morning, sometimes, the folk at the House bring their skates down and have a capital time of it. We watch from the bridge, they shout eloquently at each other and have snowball fights on the ice, twirling about and making quite a show of it, their valets and servants bringing them hot cocoa on silver trays, traipsing down the side of the slope as though summoned by magic, floating over the snow like angels of warmth and luxury.

The dawn is our time, though. Our own time, away from the Masters, away from the drudgery, away from the relentless hours of physical exertion. We fall asleep at night as soon as our heads hit the pillows, but we always wake up just before the first light of dawn, when the stars, bright and twinkling in the winter sky, are just starting to fade. We wake up and drag ourselves down to the side of the lake, we listen to the birdsong and saturate our souls in the still atmosphere of a waking world.

And I think of you, Hana, and how I am not truly a wastrel, unless I have wronged you in some way. I am not a wastrel, if the world welcomes me at dawn, and allows me to live in the miraculous time when the skin kisses our part of the globe, and turns night into day. The air shifts, the songs start, and the day stretches, yawns, and slowly embraces the earth.

Yours, always,

Seb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love Letters #12

Dear Cecil,

To be civil is to be wise.

Sincerely, 

Julia

 

Dear Cecil,

To understand why one is angry, is to stop and listen to one speak, rather than speaking over one.

Annoyed,

Julia

 

Dear Cecil,

I complain about your foot only because it moves so much when I am trying to concentrate. You know the boss likes to point fingers. It always seems to be us, doesn’t it?

Julia

 

Dear Cecil,

As always, be quiet.

Julia

 

Dear Cecil,

I had afternoon tea with him. What’s it to you anyway.

Julia

 

Dear Cecil,

Well, Andrew is kind to me. Unlike you.

Julia

 

Dear Cecil,

Now, I have written two pages on experimental feminism. If this does not enter the paper, I shall blame it on you.

Julia

 

Dear Cecil,

Nice cactus on your desk. 

Julia

 

Dear Cecil,

I think boss has clocked on about our notes. Destroy destroy destroy.

Julia

P.S. No, I don’t like writing you notes. It’s just handy.

P.P.S. No, I do not.

P.P.P.S. That is hardly appropriate. I shan’t send you any more, then. Good day.

 

Cecil,

Leave me alone.

Julia

 

Cecil,

Mouse in my desk. Care to have a look?

Julia

 

Cecil,

Thank you for getting rid of my mouse. Boss called me out for screaming. Says I am a woman, and what else did he expect. I explained I was startled. He reckons I wasted valuable work time by what he calls my ‘female disability’.

Julia

 

Cecil,

Of course I am upset. Will I show it? Certainly not. Wouldn’t give him that satisfaction.

Julia

 

Cecil,

Thank you. That is very kind of you.

Julia

 

Cecil,

Have you seen Thomas? He is supposed to be editing my piece.

Julia

 

Cecil,

Fired? Whatever for?

Julia

 

Cecil,

I am shocked, frankly. Shocked. And horrified. I am going to give that man a piece of my mind.

Julia

 

Cecil,

Yes I am. Don’t you dare say anything, and put your own job at risk. I won’t have it. 

Julia

 

Cecil,

Wish me luck.

Julia

 

****

 

Dear Cecil,

Well, I suppose you are aware by now. I was told to leave. I didn’t go back to my desk to collect my things because it was a matter of pride, really. I walked out of those doors with my nose in the air like any self respecting lady who refuses to be trampled upon by the patriarchy. You might snigger at my word choice there but it is very true and something everybody who is sane and sensible should stand up for. Thomas should not have spoken up for me, and I feel inherently guilty that he lost his place here because of me. I wish to thank you for your input, Cecil, but please keep your head down. I don’t want you to lose your financial stability over this, you are already on probation. They are hiring at that newly opened shop and apparently they are looking for ladies, so I shall go and see how my chances fare there. Hopefully that will tide me over until I can find something better. Mama and Papa await me in the countryside. They say it is not right for a lady of my age to be living and working in the city. Settle down and marry, they say. They don’t understand my passion for what I do.

Thank you, Cecil. For everything.

Julia

****

Dear Cecil,

I understand you left me a note. This is me returning it. I went to call on Thomas. He appears to be avoiding me. I am absolutely racked with guilt.

Julia

 

Dear Cecil,

Apparently he wasn’t avoiding me. He was at the theatre with his wife! He is working now with another editor, who had heard of his ordeal, and his newspaper is very progressive. He has asked tp speak with me, funnily enough. Well, they are both happy enough. They both reckon I am a stubborn thing but commend me on it given the situation. I should very well think so. Thank you for the flowers, sorry to have missed you again. I was at dinner with Thomas and his wife, a most charming woman. They have the sweetest, chubby little child you ever set your eyes on. 

Julia

 

Dear Cecil, 

I would very much like to go for a walk with you this evening.

Julia

 

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Love Letters #3

 

Dear Laura,

It has been five months. I haven’t had not a single reply from you. I can’t take this anymore, I feel a fool. I go daily to the post office to see if there is a letter from you. John receives weekly volumes from you detailing the lives of everybody including the cat, and I receive nothing. It disheartens a fellow, I tell you. Mary tells me you write to me. Perhaps she is wrong. The only letters I look out for are yours, Laura. 

Tom

****

Dear Laura,

I love you, I have always loved you, since the day I saw you wearing your blue dress and knocking Adam out with a great punch to his stomach, your golden curls askew. Your Mama was livid, I recall, and John was mighty embarrassed of his rogue little sister, disrupting the choir so. I fell in love with you and your passion, Laura. I couldn’t help myself. I loved you when you pushed me into the lake because I told you your dress was pretty, I loved you when you put a fish in my shoes because I gave Mary such a scolding. You made me laugh, you made me happy. I loved you when we all grew up and you pretended you were such a lady but really you were swinging on the barn swing while everybody was enjoying a demure dance at the party, your dress tied high around your waist. I am positively mad for you I can’t even begin to tell you. You bring laughter into my heart and you are so feisty and passionate and untameable but I want to tame you. I want to marry you, Laura, I want to be yours alone, and do away with the Williams and the Roberts and the Georges who spill all over the pages of your small novellas to John. To hell with them all. I want you.

****

Laura,

Please see the books I promised you in this parcel. 

Tom

****

Dear Laura,

I don’t know what to say anymore. I don’t know why I keep writing to you. You’re so changed when I see you, and promise me you’ll write, and laugh and jest with me just like old times, but when I’m gone its as though I don’t exist, and Johnny gets all his letters while I look on with burning jealousy. He is your brother, I know, but we are friends, are we not? Life here is hectic and busy. We dissected a human yesterday. It was mighty tough stuff, and some fellows of faint heart were quite overcome and had to be hauled out by the rest of us so we could carry on with our bloody work. You would have loved to be here, I know, and I thought of you as we examined the lungs. You will probably not reply to this, but know that John and I both miss you and Mary and the babies and everybody else, and look forward to seeing you all come the glorious long days of summer.

Tom

****

 

Dear Tom,

I miss you

I have been keeping busy here. It hasn’t been too cold this winter, and the crops have been kind to us. I’ve been fishing a few times with Mary, but she is really tired out by the twins. They are crawling everywhere now on their chubby hands and knees, gurgling at us like precious little angels with peachy cheeks. I am constantly popping over to Mary’s, I think her and Edmund must be quite sick of me! But oh I only go to drop my kisses on those babies and give them a nice little cuddle, soon they’ll be all grown up and flying off to their own little nests and oh how old I shall feel. Joyce Poole at the post office has had quite a spell, and has had to take some leave. Mr Poole’s sent her off to the seaside, and we waved her off at the train station. She’s been awfully cold with me lately and I couldn’t fathom why, until her Mama came over with a box containing all these letters addressed to me in your hand. Underneath my letters, were the ones (dozens and dozens of them!) that I’d written to you. Mrs Poole was beside herself and told me she didn’t quite know what to say and that Joyce really wasn’t herself. Oh Tom, I know what it’s all about. You took her to Margery’s coming out ball before you left, and left her quite heartbroken. Not a single letter, I’m told, and not even a proper goodbye. She was jealous, thinking, poor soul, that there was something going on between us, and so she thought she would put a stop to it by waylaying our correspondence, being in charge of the post, as she was. And there I would be, asking her for my post, rifling through the envelopes to see if there was anything from you! Anyway. That’s over now. I do blame you, though, you heartbreaker. I haven’t opened any of your letters, and shan’t until you get here. We can read them together and have a right old laugh, I think! Oh do hurry up and come back with Johnny in tow, we haven’t had any fun for a long time and Aunt Meg’s house needs brightening up.

Love,

Laura.

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