Do you not keep your love letters? Do you not read them in the dead of night, in the time when all life is stilled, when breathing is shallow and thoughts are deep, when light is dimmed and hopes go with it into the darkness? Do you not then reach for the lamp and illuminate your heart and your room, do you not reach for the letters in their secret box concealed under your bed, where you hope against all hope no one will think to look for them?
What if they do?
What will they discover? Your endless outpourings of love for those who are no longer in your life? The pain your heart went through, embedded in the warp and weft of the paper on which your words are immortalised? Do you think they will laugh at you if they read them? Or would they empathise to the point when sorrow takes over and they weep over the letters, knowing that their life is writ clear there too?
Ignore that. We are talking of you reaching for the letters in the darkest reaches of the night, the endless depressing unbearably lonely night, when you hold the letters and touch them and smell them and remember them, word for word.
Remember Harriet, the blonde with the nose which wrinkled when she laughed? The eyes which twinkled no matter what mood she seemed to be in? Harriet, who laughed at the wrong times and the right times, who was slender and graceful and delightful to be with?
For the moment, put her memory, affectionately, to one side and let us move on to Georgina, the elegant, leggy sultry dark haired girl with the penchant for foreign cigarettes, preferably Russian, for strange cocktails and equally strange men to go with them. She was good for a time, wasn’t she?
Melissa, oh how could you forget Melissa …
How many in all? Do you remember?
Count the letters and you will.
One by one, smell and touch and remember.
Each one is different, is it not?
Each one is written in the blood of the victim.
Before they died.
By Dorothy Davies