By Nikki Mason
He stared at the words in his hands. The letters swirled and swooped more elegantly than he remembered. Hard to make out if he didn’t know their meaning by heart. Hours he’d spent tracing the lines with his fingers, gorging them with his eyes, these words that were once hers were now his. In his mind, in his soul. They spoke of a lost time. Before his skin was papery and dour. Before his mind began to grow feeble. Before he’d even married.
Now the words began to blur, the familiar writing becoming unfocused as tears threatened to spill over his drooping eye lids. This was the last time he’d know her. They were moving him out, away from his home and all the possessions that made up him and his life. That made up who he was. He was once the receiver of this letter – adored, wanted and vital. He once ran with vigour, lusted to touch this woman’s skin which was covered in freckles brought out by the sun. He had laid her down in a field of wildflowers, away from the watchful grey eyes of her ever-frowning mother. He had kissed her petulant mouth, plump and full and cherry red.
Now his lips were puckered and thin, their redness faded to an unsightly mauve, but always hers would be youthful and smiling. Just as her letter would always be new, full of questions, longing and hope.
But the questions he had left unanswered and he had left her hope to diminish.
He sat down at his cheap pine table heavily and took up his pen. With hands that shook, he finally responded. His letters crooked and scratchy. Their meaning known by heart.