Love Letters #40

Dear Friday,

Am I allowed to write a love letter to a day of the week? Is it the done thing to do? Am I cheating on Tuesday, if I use her generous time to commemorate her competitor?

Oh but Friday, how I look forward to you. I eagerly await your sunrise, I dance through your hours with a spring to my step, even in the dead of winter. You fill me with joy, hope and an anticipation which grows with every hour approaching dusk.

You signify the end of an arduous week, and the blossoming of freedom and a thousand possibilities. You are better than a Saturday or a Sunday, because rest during your hours feels deserved, somehow; earned.

Oh, I love you, Friday. A deep, burgeoning love. A love that breeds of yearning and satisfaction. A love that comes from tenderness and care; a soft lamp on a tired evening, the soft rustle of pages turning in an exciting book, the warm smell of freshly cooked pizza, delivered to the front door.

Friday, you massage my achey feet, you throw my door open for me and the light flooding out is beckoning, full of promise. On other days I walk in stressed, thinking about the work ahead of me, but on your days, you caress me so and my mind empties. My shoulders relax.

I miss you when your last tendrils float away into the deep night, and I long for you before the new week has begun.

You are my new hope, and my old joy.

Yours most faithfully.

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Love Letters #36

Dear Tom,

It was Anne Shirley who told her darling husband-to-be Gilbert that she was ‘alone but not lonely’ one beautiful evening whilst walking through the graveyard of Summerside, that year she was away teaching there. A mighty dreadful time she had with those Pringles, I tell you. I was reading of her walks on the train; the countless descriptions of wind surging through the tree lined avenues of the most wondrous places on P.E. Island, and I felt the cool breeze on my face, I saw the violets in their numerous beauty, I smelt the flowers in bloom and the voice of Rebecca Dew echoed uncomfortably close to my ear, that I looked up abruptly, only to see the heads of my fellow modern train passengers, oblivious to my rapture, in raptures (or otherwise) of their own. I laughed loudly at some point, her characters do come up with the most curious things! A rather stern Aunt Mouser told her niece to not quote the bible flippantly, and then turned to Anne and said, ‘You must excuse her, Miss Shirley, she just ain’t used to getting married.‘ Tom, forgive me when I tell you that I found this so funny that tears streamed down my face!

When I turned the book over, there was a little ode to Montgomery, saying that her work ‘continues to draw countless visitors to Prince Edward Island each year.’

I will be very frankly honest with you, dearest, when I say that my heart sank when I read that. I imagined the Prince Edward Island will not be as I imagined it if I ever do go. I made up my mind then and there to never go. I don’t want to see roaring cars and buses and city roads with white paint. I don’t want to see areas of desolation and corrugated iron roofs. I don’t even want to see people wearing modern clothes. I don’t want to see tourists. Granted, they may be like-minded tourists, but tourists they will be nonetheless. I want it to be just how Anne and Emily and Pat describe it, and my heart aches to know it will never be so. I was born too late, I suppose.

I last read Anne of the Island at the age of fifteen. I was reading the first three books over and over again, and only recently did I stumble upon the fourth book, all these years later.

I was trying to fault Anne, I found, whilst reading the fourth book of the Green Gables series. I was trying to fault her for being ‘too perfect’ or ‘too beautiful’ or ‘too well liked’. She is well liked enough, and is able to deftly turn everybody and make them adore her, sure. However, I couldn’t help but fall in love with her adult self again, all these years later as an adult myself and not a child.

Anne is timelessly incredible. She is not too beautiful, because she doesn’t see herself so, and many others pointedly tell her of her carroty hair. She is not too perfect, because she tells Gilbert in an epistolary fashion that she has to accept that not everybody will like her, when certain people very vehemently do not. She is not too anything, and yet she is perfect. She is who I aspire to be.

She is hopeful, she is resourceful. Her words dance with life and laughter, and I imagine her grey eyes to be starry and full of light. She talks to everybody, is friendly with everybody, tries to help all sorts of people. She even cancelled her trip back home to sit with forty year old Pauline Gibson because she knew Pauline was lonely and henpecked by her grumpy old mother. How selfless is that? I don’t doubt that a lot of people were like that at the time, and didn’t think twice of being so generous with themselves and their time. Nowadays everybody is so ‘busy’, so ‘private’, so ‘personal’; never talking to strangers or even trying to find out who one’s neighbours are! Nobody just calls on a newcomer anymore, nobody sends each other cake, nobody calls each other over for supper unless they know them very well, and that is why, I suppose, a lot of us are so lonely!

A little sprinkle of Anne makes any day brighter. I found my day to bloom after reading a few chapters of her, and my heart ached a little, because I would never be able to meet her or become chums with her or wonder the nooks and crannies of the Island with her. She makes a small town like a little heaven here on earth.

I learnt from her to find joy in every aspect of my life. I learnt that even though I don’t live in Avonlea with her, I can find my own little Avonlea just where I am.

I love Anne Shirley, and I can see why others do too; and I am excited to finish following her journey through the eight precious books penned by our very own Lucy Maud Montgomery. Over and over again, delving into the land of magic, spirits and the most eccentric little characters one could ever dream up. She makes my heart yearn for something I can’t quite touch.

Yours most truly,

Amelia.

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James Hill

  

Love Letters #35

When they arrived there was a downpour. An opening of the heavens, cracking like the earth’s skull, and the rain gushed down like a broken tap. The footman would not hear of her stepping out unaided, he took his own coat off to shield her from the torrents as he guided her out of the carriage and up the steps, which became a waterfall, sloshing around her perfectly gleaming shoes and ruining them.

They entered the building and he bowed, folding his coat to himself before dashing out again. She watched as he clambered aboard the back of the coach, sodden, and said something to the driver before they clattered away down the cobbled street, the sound of the wheels vanishing amid the clamour of thunder and pattering rain.

If it were not for her dress she would have chased him down the street, letting her carefully pinned hair fall and soak up the rain. She clutched her skirts now in her hands, and let her dainty, sodden shoes take her across the perfectly polished floors and through the main doors of the cathedral. One last glance back, but the street was empty, vendors packed away and doorways tightly shuttered against the grim atmosphere. She couldn’t see to the end of the road, a cloudy haze formed of soot and torrential rain formed a wall, blocking her from the world she could not touch, and which could not touch her.

Dear Louie,

It’s better that you know now – the child is yours. There is no way you could claim him, he will have to be the next heir to the throne. 

Yours,

Dorothea

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Love Letters #33

 

She was standing in the middle of the road, when he first set eyes on her. A light, silken shirt was all that draped her small shoulders in the icy January air. The road was wet with perspiration, and the branches bare, and the drizzle drifted gently down. Her face was pale, her eyes bright, and her hair a cloud of golden silky curls, bouncing as she danced this way and that, her feet turning in all directions and her arms moving side to side, up and down.

He noticed her first because she was dancing, but dancing is the usual sight in this vibrant city of theirs. He did his double take because of her smile. When she smiled, her eyebrows rose, and she looked almost… surprised. And her chin grew pointy, and the tops of her cheeks pointed outwards too.

He thought, if you really stood back and thought about it, she did have quite a sharp little face. But it was so dear and sweet and her eyes sparkled with life and crinkled with joy.

Man, he thought, she really does love to dance. Somebody was standing in front of her, another friend he thought, and the other friend was laughing away but in an awkward way, certainly not joining in.

Cars drove right past her, on both sides. Motorbikes weaved their way around her and people glanced at her then glanced away. Did she make them uncomfortable? He really didn’t see how they could do that. She made him so happy. He stood from his safe distance on the pavement, as the sky drizzled gently around him and slowly soaked him through. And he watched her dance away and laugh.

Presently she noticed him watching her. She kept glancing at him, and then she directed her smile at him, giving him his own little dance show. She was waving him over. Her mouth was miming,

Come join me!

He shook his head, smiling widely. She laughed, and he heard the tinkling giggle over the traffic.

Come on!

He didn’t want to. He knew his arms would be too thick and his body wouldn’t listen to him. He was content to just watch her rhythm, the way life seemed to happen around her, draw her in its flowing current. He was one of those who stood on the fringe of things, while life swept her up in its energetic arms and took her whichever way it chose to run.

Please!

A heart shape with her ever moving fingers, and then, as quickly as she had moulded her hands, she was twirling in another direction.

His feet moved against his will, then. Weaving through the traffic, until he was on the same island she stood on, the white painted thick divide in the traffic, separating one directional flow from the other. The no man’s land of the high street.

She laughed, waved at her friend, and took his arms, moving them this way and that, until he, too, felt part of the current of life. He felt it first in his fingertips, a tingling that spread through his body all the way down to his toes, a small spitfire of energy, moving his limbs without direction from his brain. He closed his eyes, feeling the cold, gentle spray on his face, and let the rhythm of the world take him.

***

And that, is how I met my wife.

Love Letters #32

When she looked over the edge of the mooring, she saw the sky. She saw an infinite galaxy of stars spinning away from her in the gentle ripples prodded along by the breeze. Her toes careened a little, so filled with wonder was she, and she felt herself falling ever so slowly forward. Or maybe the sky was surging ever so slowly towards her.

The heavens spread out before her, beneath her feet, and she was suddenly rendered so insignificant in the midst of this surreal vastness. And the universe was still, silent, except for that thrumming background noise one hears even in the depths of the womb. The thudding continuum that is time and space and the place we all come from, and recognise, but are not fully aware of. The sound we all know, and when we hear it we suddenly stand still, recognising the call, but not quite understanding it.

The world behind her fell away; growing more distant with each moment that passed by. Her ears were ringing, almost, and the sounds on the wharf behind her faded. The clank and the medley of voices, human, living, all became something of the … past?

And what would happen if she succumbed to this unearthly sound, coming from the stars, and let the ripples carry her away?

 

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Love Letters #25

 

A note slipped out of Emilia’s book while she was tidying out her dorm room.

My dear, 

Nothing is sweeter than your bright smile those cold mornings when I miss your arms around me. I can’t wait to see you again tonight.

M.L

Emilia’s fingers ran along the words. A romantic affair. She remembered it as though it were yesterday. Why is love so much more sweet when it is forbidden? Sweet. Painful.

Kisses under the underground arches when the rest of the students had moved on ahead. His hand on her knee under the table, while he played merry to the adults.

Sweet little notes slipped between the pages of borrowed books.

Glances above the heads of the laughing crowds, knowing smiles when introduced to each other by mutual friends. Her heart would surge with joy and excitement and a giddy pleasure. At the back of her mind she knew it was wrong, oh, so wrong.

But love was good, was it not? Love was sound. Love was beautiful. How could something so beautiful be wrong, then?

Her mind had been racing much too fast to focus on any words. Her legs were crossed at the ankles, where they rested on the other side of the wide window ledge she reclined on. Her eyes wandered the green outside the college windows. She couldn’t eat those days, she couldn’t sleep. That was, she told herself countless times, what it was like to be in love.

She saw him walking across the courtyard and her heart quickened. She felt her pulse pounding through her veins as she watched him stop and speak to some students. They laughed, and she smiled. Ever the charmer. Then he glanced up at the windows, and, not seeing her, hurried indoors.

She hadn’t stopped to think about why she was so special, when there were countless other young girls in her classes, some prettier than herself, smarter, funnier. She knew they were all after him, and it gave her a sense of huge satisfaction to know she had been singled out from amongst the masses. She was above them all, even though she couldn’t say anything about it.

Nobody knew, but they didn’t have to. Her confidence grew daily. And nightly. She would tiptoe back to her dorm room, wrapping herself tightly in her night gown. Slip under her covers and lie there looking at the ceiling, smiling to herself. She would be exhausted the next day, and when he handed her her assignments in class he would murmer,

‘Late night, Miss Clarkson?’

She would cast her eyes down and hide her smile, but joy would surge within her. And under her papers a small yellow note in his thick, straight handwriting.

Later that day she was going to Lord Warrington’s ball. Her whole family had been invited, it was to be a grand affair. She had prepared her red evening dress weeks earlier. Diane had gone with her and they had chosen matching shoes as well.

‘You will look positively ravishing, darling. Pity Tommy Sand couldn’t take you.’

‘Oh,’ Emilia said airily, ‘Oh it doesn’t matter. I am perfectly fine going with Mother and Father.’

Diane had glanced away, eyebrows raised. She couldn’t for the life of her imagine how anybody could go alone, or with their parents. The humiliation!

Out on the dance floor, Emilia was never short of partners. She spotted him across the room, speaking to a woman with thick black hair. Surprised, she started forward. Nobody from college was here. They could talk, maybe even dance!

She excused herself from her dance partner to squeeze past people to get to him, in her hurry slipping a little on the dance floor. His back was to her when she reached out and touched his shoulder with her gloved hand. He turned around, and she smiled wide, about to say how good it was to see him and how they could be free, here, and would he like to dance?

Before a single word fell from her lips she saw his eyes widen, and dart sideways. She wanted to laugh out loud. He had nothing to be afraid of now! Oh, she was so excited!

‘Ah, Miss Clarkson.’ he said, before she could say a word, and smiled politely at her.

‘Martin! I..’, she began breathlessly.

‘Meet Laura,’ he interrupted firmly, as the lady next to him looked questioningly at her,

‘Uh, yes, hello, I’m Emilia,’ Emilia said, bewildered, holding her hand out. Laura took it warmly, smiling wide.

‘Emilia, pleased to meet you.’

She was beautiful.

‘This is my wife. Laura, Miss Clarkson is a student of mine. I was not aware your family knew Lord Warrington.’

His voice faded into the background, as her stomach fell to her feet. She murmured something faintly before staggering away, aware Laura was staring her her with a frown.

‘Is she alright?’ she heard her ask him. Him. 

‘I’m sure she is. Come dance, darling.’

She staggered outside to the wide balcony where she fell painfully onto the banister overlooking the dark orchard down below. She was heaving, and her ears were ringing. And it hurt. Oh it hurt like a hundred knives slicing through her body. She was numb, and the tears refused to seep from her eyelids.

She would have to pull herself together, of course. She would have to get up and stand tall and smile and dance and charm people, then go home with her parents and make merry.

She would have to get on.

Emilia looked at the note again, and crumpled it in her fist, throwing it into the fireplace.

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Love Letters #16

Handle with care. Don’t bark or bite. Step on egg shells around her. Oops. Made her upset again. I don’t know why. Or how. It’s all crumbling past my ears. I don’t know what I did wrong. Why is she so distant and moody. I only want to make her happy. That is all I care about. Why can’t she see that.

Dear Len

What if we both got in your old micra and drove down to Bradgate one evening. We could stay there till the sun sets, and have a little picnic. Maybe listen to some tunes. Spread a rug on the floor. Watch the horizon light up in flames, and as darkness spills over from the other edge of the world, slowly encompassing everything, we could watch the city lights twinkle on one by one. Until there is a crescendo of lights, magically winking through the distance. 

D

P.S. On Saturday. It’s forecasted to be sunny.

***

Sour expression. Again. Mouth set firmly. Slightly downturned. The left corner crinkles, pressed tightly. That’s how I know he’s upset. It’s because I didn’t sleep in that long car journey when I had that UTI and felt like there were knives slicing me open, and nausea and dizziness were threatening to tip me over the edge. How can you sleep when you feel like that, in a car? You just can’t. He was being too controlling. I didn’t sleep and now he’s been ignoring me for two days.

***

Fingers clutching ends of sleeves, hands barely visible, arms pulls over her chest. Head down. Can’t see her eyes. Don’t know whether she is sad or angry. Maybe both. Who knows these days. She doesn’t listen to me. Doesn’t she know I only want the best for her?

***

‘What’s wrong?’

Dreading the answer. Because I know what its going to be. He is always like this.

A shrug.

‘Nothing.’

Well it can’t be nothing. Else you wouldn’t be so distant.

‘There is something wrong. Talk to me.’

Set mouth. Staring at laptop. Watching Last Week Tonight.

‘Nothing.’

My heart is heavy. I hate this tirade. It’s exhausting. Over and over again. It’s too much effort. Something small could have set him off, and then he is moody for days. Days. Until I confront him about it, and these days I really don’t want to. Unnecessary effort. And he says am high maintenance.

Shall I give in and say sorry? I am cold at night. I need him to hold me. But why should it be like that? Why should he hold a grudge against me over something so insignificant and unnecessary?! It drives me mad!

Why should I say sorry when I didn’t do anything wrong? Why is he such a grown ass child? I am so sick of it. I have to torment myself for days while he becomes colder and colder and….

‘Maybe I am sick of my job. Maybe I have way too much on and very little help. Maybe I am sick of telling people what to do; because they are too useless to figure it out for themselves. Maybe there are too many demands on me. Maybe I am sick of travelling three hours a day to a job that doesn’t let me do what they employed me to do; that is, engineer their cars. No. They give me the filing paperwork crap that is useless and unnecessary. They employed an engineer to do secretarial work. What a waste of money and energy and brain cells.’

It burst out of him. The frustration only barely contained in his calm voice.

And that was all he said, all night.

Maybe I overreacted. Or maybe he used that to cover up some real resentment towards me. Or maybe I was being selfish and thinking his mood was all about me. Still. I don’t think he should take out his frustration on his wife, the only person who isn’t putting demands on him. I try to help him as much as I can. I don’t deserve such harshness. But. Well. People deal with stress in different ways. And he is under a lot of stress. I will give him a break.

For now.

But oh. My heart is so heavy.

N.B. He doesn’t really write like that. But in with his limited spelling and vast vocabulary, I am sure he could if he tried. What he did say sounded so much better, in his own special words, because I know him so well. It doesn’t translate so clearly in writing, though. Writing is in a league of its own.

 

 

Love Letters #15

Damon Ludwig was the love of Alex’s life.

Of course, she did not tell him that. She barely looked at him, barely glanced in his direction when he greeted her. Covertly she admired him, though.

Damon Ludwig was the boy next door. Of course he had to be; Alex snorted at the ironic cliche of it all.

She couldn’t help herself, though. Damon was a very handsome lad, but it wasn’t that, really. She knew as well as the next person that just because somebody was handsome doesn’t mean they were very nice.

He was full of energy, is how she would describe it. He was constantly on the move. Lifting and carrying and bringing in mysterious logs through the front of his house. She would hear his mother berating him for getting mud and splinters all along her newly washed floors. She knew he made things out in the back garden shed, which had been converted to a personalised workshop. He made chairs and carved ornaments, most of which his mother lovingly displayed around her house.

He was funny. And laughed a lot. His laugh was swelling, coming from deep within him, so you knew it was genuine.

When he wasn’t carving, Damon was reading. He read everywhere. In trees, behind bushes, on the garden wall, lying precariously with his solid edges spilling over the sides, in his carpentry shed, on the gentle slope of the roof of his house.

And when he wasn’t reading, he was mowing old Lady Redmond’s lawn down the road or clipping the hedge for Mr Mason whose fingers were riddled with arthritis. He always had time for everybody, and with a cheerful smile he would help them. Sure, sturdy and confident.

She watched their faces when he left them; always smiling. It was like he was the sun and he left his glowing rays wherever he went.

She loved him. But of course, she would never tell him that.

She would carry on in her silent Alex way. Watching when he wasn’t looking, burying herself in her studies, taking care of things as best she could. Her little sister Lem was always in and out of the house next door. She envied her her childish confidence. She would come back with tales about Damon and even though Alex pretended to be nonchalant and dismissive she wanted to hear every detail.

 

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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1040 Miles Away

1040 miles away.

Have we ever been that far apart?

Oh yes. Twice, I think. Once for two weeks. Once for a day.

It’s been two days.

Next week, I will be the one to get on a plane. For three weeks. THAT will be the longest. I will enjoy myself, I know, but I will also be aching to get back to you.

I seem to be spending all my time waiting. That isn’t how one should live life.

Embrace the moment, they say. I don’t want to live my moments without you, though. I feel as though a part of me is missing and if I am left to my own devices too long, it haunts me and creates a lump in my throat.

So I am keeping very busy. Not that I have a choice, of course. In the small moments before my eyes close at night, I feel alone and empty. No warmth to snuggle up to. Nobody to put my arm around in the pitch blackness because I am afraid of the dark.

I sleep on his pillow, because it smells of him, of course. I close my eyes and bury my face in it, pretending it is his T-shirt. He isn’t so squishy though.

When you come back, I am going to cover your face in kisses. Please come home safely.

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