Name Of Love

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

12th February 2016
He never opened his post until he'd drunk his coffee, made a fresh one and put it on the table beside him, and turned down the radio. He went through the usual bills and rubbishy leaflets, and then he picked up the creamy envelope; with its beautiful copperplate handwritten address. He ran his fingers over the letters, seeing his name in her hand. He brought the envelope up to his nose and inhaled deeply; faintly, he thought he could detect the ghost of her perfume. But that was probably his imagination, thinking about all the miles this letter had travelled, how could it possibly be?

He took a gulp of coffee and scalded his throat. Damn, now he was uncomfortable, and Cissy's letters should be read in comfort. He put the letter down whilst he got a drink of water. He sipped some and then tipped a bit into his coffee.

Slowly and carefully, he slid his finger under the fold. It opened easily and he tried not to think about how it was stuck down, as he drew out the letter. If he started thinking about her mouth, he'd be lost for the day. He teased out the sheets of paper and unfolded them. He shut his eyes briefly, almost as a prayer to her, his goddess whose words he was about to read, and then opened them and began to drink in her words.

Dear Will,

I cannot believe it has been seven weeks. Fourteen letters in all, thousands of my words, and still I think of more and more and more to say. I want to describe every bit of my day to you, show you every little thing I have seen. I imagine you are by my side all the time and I see the world more clearly, more intensely because of this. How I wish you could write back to me but my dear, I do understand and I shall never blame you. Instead I shall think on your gentleness and gentlemanliness as you exticate yourself from where you are. I know it must be done slowly, with love, with respect. I admire you for this so much!

I also cannot believe that this time next week we shall be together, at last. I never want to be apart from you again. Every day I imagine myself walking to the station, or driving, if it's wet, the route I will take, the clothes I'll be wearing (how you'd laugh at me, I have my outfit all ready already!)

I wake up; I think of you. I see you in everything, I hear you in every song on the radio, I see you in smiles. My day is brighter because you're in it with me, even though you're not really here you're here in my heart and that is enough. I have probably said all this in every other letter but I can't help but write to you. You said on the phone you don't mind and I take you exactly at your word. You told me to tell you my soul, because only that is real and Will, I always will. And I treasure every word you have ever said, every declaration of love, every sweetness you've ever given me. I run them through my head like a film all day long.

And soon, we'll be able to add to these as we make more magic moments. And we'll have more 'Do you remembers' to add to the list we'll tell each other when we're old and grey and sitting side by side on a terrace somewhere, being serenaded by blackbirds.

The moment I come back to time and time again is that walk in the woods near your house. The time we sat in the monument at the top, and you cried and I held you and we just sat, for hours. I never ever wanted to move again. That was enough for me, just to be there, in those woods, with you. I have never needed anything else, since the very first time I met you.

How else can I put it other than that the world makes sense when I'm with you? That I feel safe when I'm with you? That it doesn't matter a jot where I am or who I'm with, as long as I can catch your eye and smile a smile that says, oh my love, I know. I've never felt it with anyone else and I know I never will. It's you, it's always been you, in every life I've lived. All I need is your hand, and I can face any danger, any demon, any ill. Everything is just... right if I'm with you, even if I'm just in the same room but not right next to you. Even then, just to know you are there... these seven weeks have been torture, but a necessary torture, I know. I try to live the days in between but it's so hard, so hard to not just sit and dream of you and replay our conversations and think about every time you have touched me.

I never knew love could be like this. I get it now, get what all the poets and singers and writers have been trying to tell me. That when you fall properly, there's nothing you can do against it. Falling in love with you is both one of the hardest and easiest things I've ever done. Hardest becasue I know there is a cost, easiest because I didn't ever have to try. I saw you, I loved you. I never had any choice in it.

And to know you feel the same... it is some kind of miracle. LOVE!

I cannot wait to be your wife. I've never wanted to be anyone's wife before! But to wear your ring... I want to be joined to you, for ever.

I hope the next few days fly past. I can barely barely wait.

I'm yours; I always was.

Cissy XXX

Will read it again. And again. His coffee grew cold as he savoured each word, lost in her world. He stopped himself reading it a third time.

Carefully he tucked the letter back in its envelope. He got up, stiff and sore and went to the bureau in the lounge where he withdrew the rest of her letters and tucked this one on top, under the ribbon. He promised himself he'd not read it again until tomorrow morning, as his ritual demanded, though it was hard, with it just sitting there, not to look at it all day long. It was his favourite one: the last letter she ever sent him. It was also the only one he'd replied to, a week later, through a fog of grief and anger. He remembered writing the letter but he didn't recall what he said. It hurt too much.

He tried not to think, as he always did, after reading the letter. He wondered if it was a kind of punishment, for the amount of sadness it left him with for the rest of the day was surely more than one person should be able to live with. Why didn't it just finish him off? That grief? Why couldn't he just die of sadness and be released from this hell? He knew the answer, though, really. It was his punishment.

With a deep sigh he closed the bureau and rested his hands on its surface and then did what the ritual demanded next; light a candle for her. In the last thirty-two years he wondered how many he'd burned. 'I'm sorry,' he whispered, as the flame spluttered and then took hold. He watched the pure, clean light as it grew and climbed upwards, before finding its place and burning steady, a fat flame that would stay alight until the evening, when he'd blow it out and wish Cissy goodnight.

He wondered at his stupidity, as he did every single morning. The stupidity of thinking that his marriage could be saved by sheer will alone, just because he determined it should happen. He thumped the windowsill and the flame wobbled and he knew that today would be a bad day. He didn't have to crucify himself every morning, but the days he couldn't manage not to, he knew he was weak and would spend the whole day in what ifs and if onlys. Looking backwards, forever looking backwards, as he had done for over half his life.

He shook his head but the demons persisted. Sometimes reading the letter did this. Other times it filled him with happiness and sweet memory. Not today.

He retreated to the lounge and sat looking at the bookshelves, which sometimes calmed him. But there was the family photo, the one taken just after Jacob had been born, staring at him, accusing him. He'd only ever been half there. He knew it, his wife knew it, even baby Jacob knew it. He'd have been better leaving them, he knew that. Was it cowardice or was it a misteken sense of nobility? Of putting their needs first?

He banged his fists against his head. He couldn't take this, today, all this doubt and regret and sorrow. Sometimes after the letter he could go about his day and do his normal things, but today was a day for doubt and self hate. He wished he could go back to bed but then he'd burn with a desire for a woman who'd died three decades ago, and that was sick, and he was sick and he'd know he was sick.

His mind whirled and he got up and stumbled to the drinks cabinet. He poured a generous slug of whisky and gulped it down, made it burn his throat, poured another, carried it back to his chair.

Needs must.

He cradled the tumbler and sipped this one as he waited for the first one to hit him properly. It was the only thing that could make him forget. It didn't take long. The whisky numbed him and he almost cried with gratefulness. If he could not drink, memories would eat him up. Memories and self hate.

He wondered what had happened to all the happiness he could have had. Was it still there, somewhere, floating around in the ether, waiting for him to claim it? He never could, now, so maybe someone else could get it and have extra. Could he pass it on, somehow?

He looked around at the other photographs of his family. In each, his smile looked forced. His wife's happiness, the joy of a child when they'd given up, hers had been easy. She'd just transferred her love to Jacob. Their bond was never in question; his bond with his son was never there to question. In all the photographs he saw the distance between them and knew why it was there, because Jacob was the reason he stayed. And one day, Jacob realised this. And that day, he left his widowed father, and didn't speak to him again. In the end, everyone had gone.

Will felt the tears down his cheeks and cursed himself his weakness. He didn't deserve to cry. His tears for Cissy had been cried in private, as he'd not even found out she was dead until...

'Enough!' he shouted, hurling his glass at the wall. What kind of pathetic creature was he, sitting here year after year, living in the past. He banged his fist against his forehead.

Cissy was right when she said life with him was the only life worth living. Without her, life was nothing. Life had been nothing. A failed husband and father, a failure at life itself, but most of all, a failure at love, the one thing that meant anything.

The only thing that meant anything.

He stood up, swaying slightly, and walked to the bureau. He took out the letters and counted them.

He started with the first one, this time.