The Letter

The moment to say goodbye had come, and passed, with surprising, flat swiftness. It had been inevitable of course, and perhaps that inevitability had stifled the emotion; the preparation a lid, suppressing, for now, the anger, the fear and the agony. He had choked only when the curtains closed upon her coffin. 


The illness had eaten away at her from the inside, taking her from him, and their world, little by little, piece by piece, over the course of almost a year. It had been a brief 12 months, despite the long, tormented silences and the hours passed lying beside her ever frailer body. She had fought her tormenter until the end; bravely perhaps; or fearfully. And there had been moments of cruel respite; moments that gave flickering life to hope that would be dashed days later. Cancer had been a nasty, jibing, mocking companion to their lives. But now, like her, it was gone; destroyed in its own orgy of self-destruction. And for that, at least, he could be grateful. 


The wake had been a success; family and friends united in storytelling with only the briefest undercurrent of competition; the subtlest claims to have known her most intimately, to have shared the funniest, most poignant moments. Let them compete over their memories. None of them had really known her; not really.  


His hand trembled just slightly as he poured himself another whisky and carried it back to the armchair in front of the fire. This was his private oasis of calm; an office, come den, where he could sit in private reflection. A safe place to escape television, machinery, the neighbour’s children she so enjoyed… a place to block out the noise of the world. Odd really that he should be in here tonight, when the whole house was silent, and would remain so.


Silent except for the letter that shouted at him from the mantelpiece. His eyes pulled him back to it again, but he resisted their call. Not yet. Before he read her final words to him, he would take this moment of near quiet and absorb the memories that had lain siege to his mind for so long.


He closed his eyes, forcing his mind from the letter and to the warming liquor. He poured a little into his mouth and let it rest there, savouring its smoked earthiness as the memories saturated his senses. At the wake someone had told ...

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Rod Webb
Apr 17 2020

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Beautifully written with astute observations. An intriguing story which had me holding my breath.

Janette Ostle
Oct 3 2020

Beautiful. You really paint a picture with words :)

Charity Reed
Apr 23 2020