The Letter

It’s half a lifetime since we talked. No-one’s fault, but still I miss the comfort of our conversation.

I came across your last letter yesterday. I was rooting through the filing cabinet looking for our marriage certificate, and found both unexpectedly together, neither in its place.

I sat there a minute or two, holding the plain brown envelope, with the characters of our name in your familiar hand.

I know your words by heart. But I knew I would read them again, and be broken again. I was deep still snow before the avalanche.

This morning I am alone. Your single sheet of lined foolscap is yellowing gently, and folded neatly in three. You have dated it 25th January, but written no address.

The page is covered with your small legible script in blue biro. There are several crossings-out; revisions revealing a little of your thinking, and betraying a lack of time for rewriting. There is a final sketchy signature at the bottom of the page. The reverse is blank.

Do you remember writing? It must have been a major investment of time under the circumstances.

I retrace the familiar words, their impact undimmed by time. The stark honesty of your feelings remains as striking as the absence of any bitterness, and I know again I can never be equal to your love.

The deep snow yields, slips; shuddering, suffocating, blinding, the avalanche whirls me away to oblivion.

As I fold the letter I notice something forgotten in the envelope; a small laminated card telling me where I might find you. I put it away. I’ve never sought you, and I doubt I ever will.

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