The Letter Of Sue.
Rebecca woke to dawn drifting through the muslin curtain, and as sleep clung to her eyes, she watched the light dance across the damask patterns adorning the translucent material, and the first thought that emerged from her stirring mind was of a funeral veil. A whisper of air, sharper than the usual morning breath, crept through the window, but that did little to deter her from rising. She pulled the blanket from her body, raised herself from the mattress and sat on the edge of the bed. There, she lingered for a moment, contemplating the cold touch of the floor beneath her toes and its corporeal contrast to the worry in her heart. She glanced over her shoulder at the other side of the bed, empty, but still bearing the shape of another. She didn’t bother reaching over to touch the sheet. She already knew it was cold and barren, abandoned during the witching hours, when ghosts still roamed the barrows scattered across the wild. Abandoned before the living rose to claim the coming day.
A void had entered the house with the coming of the morning light. Moats of dust drifted across the haloes spilling through the broad windows, and as Rebecca stepped from one pool of warmth to the next, her intuition whispered in her ear, and it spoke of the loneliness that waited. The air congealed in the silence, absorbing what sound would dare disturb its domain. Not even the uneven boards beneath her bare feet could conjure enough power to undo the stillness. She moved through the empty building as if it were the hollow skeleton of memories. Without Sue there, the walls were nothing but weathered bones. The doorways dark, like the sunken joints of a collapsing body. She had never felt capable of filling the place by herself. Even life seemed to be a vast, featureless realm in the early hours of waking.
In the kitchen, a room of slanting cupboards and simple wares, a draft caught at the corner of a letter on the dining table. The sight of the paper stirred something within her, and in the brief recognition of its existence, the house felt alive again. Its resurrection was simple, but enough to draw Rebecca from the daze that still hung over her thoughts. The furnishings’ pale wood uncoiled to embrace the golden dapple of the day, and amongst the jars and bowls along the shelves, the mingled scent of preserves and spices welcomed her with an earthliness that possessed comfort and familiarity. She entered the kitchen, loomed over the letter and observed the curved handwriting that crawled across the page without absorbing what was written there. As the last remnant of Sue, she would hold the letter in her hands and consume each word with slow deliberation.
With it between her fingers, Rebecca moved to the window. The paper fibres turned translucent in the sunshine and the staccato words, black and set in their spidery trails, trembled as she prepared to read what was left to her. This was her parting gift. Nothing more than a few words scribbled on a roughened parchment. In a distant region of her spirit a pang of agony echoed across the horizon. It was a thunderstorm she knew too well, one that would pass without disembowelling its womb and flooding the fields of her being with its melancholic gore. It was a pain that held little dominion over her, for in her secret heart, she knew Sue would go. She always left. And when the time came, she would return again. This was how things were, and this was how Sue was. It was as set as the law of the land. Rebecca took a breath, steadied her hands and began to read…
You looked so pretty today, but I had to go girl, and be on my way. I’ll be back though, you know I will. And when I do, I’ll have a laugh on my face and a guitar on my back. I can make friends almost every single day, so I have no fear of being lonely out there in the world…
Rebecca looked up from the page and stared out at the barren plain stretching beyond the windowpane. The yellow grass, dead but not too far gone to lose its hold on the dry soil, swayed in the silent wind. Rebecca could only dream of what laid beyond. She had never been beyond the plains. The world was not something she thought too much of, but now she found herself imagining Sue somewhere else, set along a path she could not comprehend. Her fears were of the loneliness that would keep her behind the closed doors of the house. She turned back to the letter.
Now, I know you’ll be worried about me, honey. You and I talk a lot, because we have a lot to say, but if I don’t go, we’ll end up talking about the weather outside, and that would kill us both. You’d end up screaming, and I’d go quiet and dream in time. So, sometimes it’s better our silence becomes the conversation.
I won’t be gone too long though, and when I return, I’ll have a brand new song. I’ll play it for you, and I’ll tell you about the stages and the couple dozen who paid to listen, and like always, before I finish, you’ll know what I’ll say… That I’m happy you stayed.
You always stay, girl.
Rebecca put the letter onto the counter and gazed out at the plains again. She used to think about the crowds Sue would play to, or worry about how she would make it out of those dreadful places alive. In her isolation, she would practice the words she would say at Sue’s funeral, or under the cover of night have dreams in which she died. She had come a long way since then. The yellow grass swayed into the distance. Now, she could only wish for the day when silence fell between them and that, in itself, would be enough conversation to keep them side by side. The earth would fill up with love. And when there was nothing left to say, they would sit together, and watch the weather outside.