Love Letters #30

She likes to be in charge of answering questions.

Secretly, it drives me up the wall.

I never tell her this, though. I just let her answer all the questions, my ones and her ones. It makes her feel validated and in control. And I think she likes it when she is answering for me.

It makes her feel like I am hers. I belong to her.

Which I do, of course.

Except sometimes when I am sitting twiddling my thumbs while she speaks for me, I feel a little like a school boy. In a headmaster’s office. With my mother.

I would never tell her that.

I love her to pieces. Also she would be mortified.

Love Letters #27

 

Do you believe in soulmates?

Because I don’t.

I don’t believe the stars align when two people meet, or that their names were carved in some immortal stone. I don’t believe the universe has anything to do with two people getting along exceptionally well.

I do believe people are destined to be together, because I believe in fate. Our destinies are written, but we have the power to change them. With our actions, with our hopes and aspirations that we turn into events and happenings.

I don’t believe that everybody will find their soulmate. People might meander through life never finding anybody they can truly call home, and living out their days with a comfortable companion, or somebody they settle down for.

I do believe that souls have met before, in the space where all souls are before they alight on this planet. And when they meet on earth, they recognise each other. That is why there is a spark. A gleam of recognition in a pair of hazel eyes. Easy, flowing conversation. Carefree laughter. Calm, relaxed, companionable silences. Like pieces of a jigsaw fitting neatly together.

I believe in soulmates. But not one for every specific person. And not one specified by the cosmos. A soulmate is somebody who speaks to your soul.

If you find yours, hold it, keep it, cherish it, and understand it.

 

Sisters

Everybody says your sister is supposed to be your best friend. I think that is a load of tosh.

I love my sister. Of course. I don’t want anything bad to happen to her. I just want the best for her and I want her to do well and be successful.

But we don’t get along very well, my sister and I.

I know she looks up to me. I am not being arrogant here. What I say to her really matters, she listens to my advice and tries to follow it. I see her following in my footsteps and she would never admit it in a million years but I know it.

She turns to me when she needs help, and nowadays, what with being married and living far away and having a tonne of new responsibilities and a job, I cannot always be there for her, I know she feels the bite of that.

Being a sister is being in a complicated relationship. Many sisters have it easy, they get along and find it so easy to express emotions to each other. My sister and I don’t. We never tell each other we love each other. But we show it in the way we begrudgingly make each other a cup of tea. Or in the way my sister tidies up the room we used to share when she knows I am coming home. Or in the way I will give her my jacket even though we quarrel abominably about giving each other our clothes.

My sister and I tell each other we hate each other. But I don’t hate her. She annoys me greatly and I know I annoy her like hell too but we don’t hate each other.

I might give my sister a cup of tea and she will smile at me and say, ‘I hate you.’

As children we got along relatively well. We played lots of imaginary games together and devoured the same books. I wouldn’t say we were inspired by the same people. In our early teens we had similar tastes in dress and music, but hers took a darker turn. We are similar, but also very very different. How can that be possible? I don’t know. People say we look nothing like each other. Together we can be quite

My sister is struggling in the early throes of adulthood. She can’t relinquish the child within her and she wears adulthood like an uncomfortable gown that her mother forced her to wear. She is unconfident and hesitant, but oh so desperate to be where she thinks she ought to be.

Her aspirations are low, much like mine were at that age. Her associates are weaklings whose words are louder than their actions, and she projects their opinions disguised as her own. And it breaks my heart when she does that because she thinks she is so right and everybody else is so wrong and she is just mindlessly crashing through life and one day, like me, she will wake up with so many regrets.

Silly little girl.

But I know my sister. She can be feisty and fiery. She can be confident. She just doesn’t know how. And she is spaced out and needs a lot of prompting. She will come to me to prod her every step of the way in everything that she does. She needs to be handheld and it is frustrating, given that she is nineteen years old.

But I love her.

A secret part of me might be jealous of her. I don’t know why. I certainly wouldn’t want to be her, but I might be a little jealous of what she could become. Maybe? I don’t know.

I am an insecure person. I push myself and push myself to my furthest limits because I don’t want anybody to surpass me. I am in competition with everybody, even my husband. Some would say it is unhealthy. Who knows.

Do you have a sister? What is your relationship with her like?

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Socially Awkward

I called my husband’s phone at work and his work colleague picked up.

I didn’t realise it wasn’t him at first so I said his name, tentatively, because the person answering obviously answered it differently to how my husband would, except he wasn’t speaking clearly, so I thought it was still my husband.

So he repeated, ‘D’s phone, how can I help?’

So I said, ‘D?’

I don’t know why I did, okay? I just did. So cringe, I know.

‘Um, D is not at his desk at the moment, can I take a message?’

Oh my god. How embarrassing.

So of course  now I was thrown off track because of my awkwardness, so I quickly said, ‘Oh no no no no. It’s fine. I will call back later. Bye.’

It was absolutely not fine. It was an emergency. I had broken the night latch on my door and was locked indoors and had to be somewhere asap. I jumped over the fence and tried to unlock it from outside but to no avail. So I went about my business and then when my husband returned home I pried the lock open from inside with a knife, and he unbolted it from the door to tinker with it.

Still in his work clothes, still with his jacket on.

‘My friend told me you called.’

‘Oh, yeah.’

‘He said it was so awkward. You were so awkward.’

‘Okay.’

But he said it so accusingly that against my better judgement I just stared at him furiously while unwanted tears swelled in my eyes. He didn’t notice.

‘Oh, right, so everybody thinks D’s wife is weird and awkward, is that it?’ I lashed out.

‘What?’ he was surprised, ‘No!’

He hugged me, and got lock grease all over my nice clothes, which was fine, but he was lying. Of course. Because I was upset. I can always tell. When he isn’t telling the truth, his mouth sets in a straight line. And he doesn’t make eye contact with me.

But they probably all do think that.

I am not weird and awkward. I was just muddled! It can happen to anybody, right? My mind was also far away so I didn’t react well to realising I was speaking to somebody else in the tone I used specially for my husband, so naturally I would be awkward.

Also, D’s friend MUMBLES. I just thought it was D using a different phrase to answer his, hello, work phone.

Ugh. Am I overanalysing this. I don’t want people at his new workplace thinking his wife is some loser who can’t talk on the phone. They probably don’t care anyway but I am pretty sure D does, his friend and him go back a long way. I don’t want my husband to think he can’t rely on me to not be awkward in social situations.

Eh.

 

 

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 #23

Amelia was so quiet that she barely had a personality. She was all pale face and ashy hair, her mouth a tiny button and her eyes expressionless.

‘Excuse me,’ she would say, in a whisper, ‘excuse me, are you waiting in this line?’

‘excuse me, are you having this last cupcake?’

‘excuse me, where am I supposed to be sitting?’

And that one time she spoke to Gideon, her voice like the wispy dryads of the willows, ‘Gideon,’ and she said his name this time, ‘Could I please borrow your blue ink pen?’

That was in the Creative Writing class.

And when Gideon handed it to her, the faintest glimmer of a smile flashed across her face as she took it.

She didn’t return it to him later. She just left it on his desk on her departure from the class, her eyes, a deep chocolate brown, focused directly ahead.

Amelia was the sort of girl people speculated about, but then after months of staying in her shell she became known as the quiet girl. The girl who doesn’t speak. The girl who doesn’t say anything.

Amelia, it was thought, was nothing special.

Gideon did not think she was anything special either. She faded into the wall behind her and her frail voice was lost in the excitable babble of hormonal teenagers. In fact, if it were not for her extraordinary powers, Gideon would not have noticed her at all.

She was a charmer, was Amelia. He realised this the day she borrowed his pen. When his eyes met hers, he could not look away. They captivated him, ensnared him in a net from which he could not escape. He tossed and turned at night because he felt drowned in those dark pools, but at the same time he was thirsty for more. He wanted to look into her eyes again and hear that voice.

That voice that others might find irritatingly low or maddeningly faint.

If he were to describe her on those nights he was haunted by her, he would have said he was haunted by a particularly mischievous dryad.

She was not silent in his dreams. She laughed, as dryads would laugh. The wind and the roar of the trees in her trilling notes, always taunting, always mocking.

When he saw her at college her craned his neck for a glimpse of those intoxicating eyes. They never looked at him again. And each time he failed, he was left with a crushing feeling of miserable despair. Yet he would always try again, his hope forever rising, hot and furious, more determined than before.

How could anybody feel that way about a person who didn’t have a personality, unless that person was a powerful bewitcher?

Cupcakes and Frowns

I haven’t got a story anymore and I am exhausted.

Well, no, I do have a story. But it is shredded to pieces and I am too tired and emotionally drained to pick anything up. Also my heart feels like a heavy sack that is sinking low into my abdomen and it is making me feel sick.

So I am eating cupcakes to mask the pain only the cupcakes make the pain worse. There are vanilla ones with a vanilla buttercream frosting, topped with strawberries and blueberries. There are chocolate ones which came out beautifully glossy, with a sheen of chocolate icing. And a sprinkling of chocolate curls.

Well, cupcakes are delicious and delicious things are good for you – within a respectable limit, of course.

Listen up, folks. Adulting is about dealing with your problems and communicating with those who are important to you, also not being afraid of confrontation. I am terrified of confrontation.

But, Mr Damian, I have plenty to talk to you about and I will talk to you about it. I will. I must. I can’t not.

 

On Suspicion and Trust

I don’t trust people because when I do make that mistake I am usually disappointed.

Maybe it is that I don’t know who to trust, and can’t suss out a person well enough before I make the mistake of trusting them. Or maybe it is just that I have not yet met a decent person who I can fully trust yet.

Once a personal secret exits my mouth, I know it is no longer in my hands. I have no control over the dung tornado that might take place and I cannot handle not being in control of my own personal business.

So I am suspicious of everybody and I trust a minuscule amount of people.

I don’t even trust certain young ladies who I have known for nigh on sixteen years now.

Also, side thought, wow. I can say I have known somebody for sixteen years. Can you believe that? It wasn’t so long ago that I myself had only been walking this planet for sixteen years. Where have six years gone!?

I am not sure why this is. I have certainly been betrayed in the past. I have moved around quite a lot and lived in three different countries because of my father’s line of work. Also I find it disconcerting when I have confided in somebody for them to constantly bring up my private business when they have no business doing that. It is ill mannered and downright rude. Also it makes me realise that they are petty people who cannot behave like adults even though they have been for quite some time.

Do you have problems trusting a lot of people?

My issue with trust has meant that I have more acquaintances than friends, because I am afraid of divulging too much information about myself. Also, in this city that I live in, news gets around surprisingly fast. The other day a stranger walked up to me and knew my name and asked me how did it feel to be married so young and was my marriage doing okay?

I didn’t know this busybody of a woman. Nor did I care to. Also I have been married two years now (almost three) and it is getting SO DAMN TIRING hearing people I don’t know very well asking the same old question over and over again.

‘How is married life?’

That question puts my teeth on edge and makes me want to scream. It makes me so irrationally angry!

‘Sorry, do I know you?’ I said to the lady, as politely as I could. Apparently her husband’s cousin works with me, and she used to be my mother in law’s neighbour. Well, I told her it was fine then excused myself and walked on.

You see? People are nosy and not to be trusted. I mean, if she knows me, could she not have introduced herself and spoken about something else? Also, I see her at work now and all she does is ask nosy questions about my marriage and when I am planning on having kids and whether or not I have had any problems yet.

Well. It is not all salt and vinegar. There are some very lovely, loyal, trustworthy people about who I can completely trust and who would never ever betray that trust. And they are certainly worth holding on to.

Love Letters #21

We are observing a couple of people through a slightly glazed window. They are dancing figures at first, so small, moving all over the panes. They chase each other here and prance along there. Sometimes they hold hands and others they drift apart, but their limbs always head back towards each other.

The glaze is clearing and the figures are growing larger and larger until we are breaking through the glass and suddenly they are as large as life. He is smiling at her, his pale eyes behind black rimmed glasses and his hair brushed back. His hands are deep in the pockets of his blazer, which he is wearing over a maroon T-shirt and he looks like a filmmaker, but his smile is so real it threatens to crack his face in half. She is beautiful but not in the way beauty is generally described. Her beauty is in the words that tumble from her mouth at top speed and the way that her hands swirl all the air around her.

They are on the train now and his head is in his arms, the golden rays travelling across his arms over and over again, broken by lines of shadow from the window dividers, and her eyes are watching the way the hairs on his arms seem to catch fire in that sunlight. His glasses are loosely held in his half open hand.

They are walking on a red carpet now and she is dressed in a pale pink dress that glitters with each step she takes, and her curly red hair is bunched up at the back of her head and a few strands are dangling by her face, her eyes are sparkling as he signs autographs and poses grinning for cell phone pictures. He leans his head towards hers and murmurs something and her laugh turns heads.

They are in a garden now and there are fairy lights glittering and flashing everywhere, and people milling around and they are standing in front of the doors as he shows her a magic trick with some cards. He deftly shuffles and then pulls one out of his mouth, neatly unfolds it to reveal her signature and her eyes widen, her hands flying to her mouth. She throws her head back and laughs freely, clapping her hands loudly so a group of people begin shuffling closer to see what all the gusto is about and he begins to demonstrate a trick for them all, as she sidles away, glancing back at him as she pushes the door open and enters the house.

Dancing closer, dancing further, darting in and out of the frame, getting smaller in the distance. Sometimes there is only one dancer, arms spread mournfully, fingers fanning the air, and sometimes they both drift away, so far they are tiny black specks in an array of colour. Sometimes they are so close all their pores are on show, a flash of hair here and a green glint in an eye.

Ever dancing in this ever-changing frame we call life.

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Fake It Till You Make It.

Marriage is hard, folks.

Very hard indeed.

I have reached a hard rocky point, where insecurity and instability are at its peak, and it just looks so bleak. And it is very confusing to navigate, and how does one make the other understand, and how does the other understand one, and how does one love the other like before, whilst being so deeply frustrated and saddened by one.

Men are strange creatures, that is what.

And women are fools to their emotions and fantasies.

Marriage is not a dream boat. I think we all know that.

I am just trying to navigate these treacherous waters.

We all want to be happy in the end, I suppose.

Right now I am supposed to be gloriously happy but I am severely miserable. But I am going to fake my happiness until it comes to me of its own accord, because sometimes in life you have to smile your tears away and learn how to be savvy – in order to save your sanity and hold your relationship together.

But oh, it is hard. So so hard. I have to hug and kiss when my insides are furious and hurt and sad – but I have to because I love this frustrating man so much. I just need to figure out a way to deal with all of this insecurity.

How on EARTH does my mother do it?! Kudos to that emotionally strong woman, that’s what. I am realising now things I could never have envisioned before.