Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A One-Sided Series of Letters inspired by 'Dear Esther'

Dear Lilian,

The chill on the wind whispers of winter's approach. I can see the trailing white fingers of warmth spreading from the first cup of lavender tea each morning. I've taken the thick blankets out of the attic, and placed them in your room. The old woman that wove them would be pleased to see them used at last. I beat out the dust outside, by the lemon tree, and the dustdevils danced in the brisk morning air.

By the time you arrive, the lilies I picked from the stream today should be opening. I go and sit in your room sometimes, before I go to bed. It bats away the anticipation for a little while, like a fly in the orchards in summer. Sitting in the faded white chair by the window, I can smell the jasmine through the shutters. Even at night.

The hearth has grown cold as I write. Time for bed.

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Dear Lilian,

The sailor-postman told me you've delayed your crossing. The reasons I entrust to your care and will not worry over them. I placed some of the first oranges in a bowl of water.. When I squeezed the cloves into their skin, the spray left a mist in the afternoon sun. Your room smells like sunlight and Christmas now. The lilies have opened.

I went for a long walk after dinner and gave my questions to the sea.

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Dear Lilian,

Of course, the strait is dangerous. All the waters are. So is the road outside your manor, and every solid piece of turf and rock can at last roll in the very sea you fear. The sea with its unpredictable, merciless rhythm. Why do you speak of this as if all these are new? 

The lilies have wilted, so I washed the vase after breakfast. I'll put some wildflowers in when you are here. The cats nestle themselves against cold by gathering on your bedspread each afternoon, their bright pink noses hidden underneath their paws.

I walked up to the promontory today. The cold is making it stark. Even the gulls are silent.

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Dear Lilian,

So many words you write to me about the one who would counsel you to stay and forget this island and I who dwell on it. Yet in none of them do I find any reason beyond his worry. I fear you've already shipwrecked yourself on one of the two sharp cliffs of counsel through which you think you must sail. Only one of those cliffs exists, and it is the one for which you tragically veer.

You know the truth of the thing. Come.

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Dear Lilian,

The clove-oranges have soiled the basin. I washed it out after breakfast. As I cleaned it, I wondered if I had not perhaps, sea-swept and sand-clogged, imagined that you were coming. The thought made me laugh. But not from mirth.

 I've closed up the cottage, and I'm headed for the cabin in the valley. It is warmer there, though I think the cats will miss the bedspread and the sunlit afternoons, bright with anticipation.

The sea never returned my questions. If they surface on your side of the ocean, like some driftwood of the mind, do therewith as you wish. I won't receive any letters until spring.

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