Thursday, 2 July 2009
05:32:25 AM (GMT)
It was a brilliant day. It was warm and bright and I savored the temperate breezes
on my bare shoulders. The trees and shrubs and even the weeds which grew in the
cracks along the sidewalks were in bloom and everything was alive again after a long,
deep, city winter. It was the kind of day that made me think of him. Everyday made
me think of him.
I gently rubbed my thumb against the smooth paper of the letter which I held in my
hand tenderly, as if it were something fragile. In all honesty, I think I rubbed it
just to be sure it was real. I touched it just to know that at some time he had
touched the same paper. I felt his firm letters through the layers and I traced
their forms, knowing that they were his words. I unfolded it and read it again,
lingering on the way he wrote my name. There had always been something sensual about
everything he did and his handwriting was no exception. My name alone seemed to
possess a thousand intricate swirls, a wilderness of dots and lines and all in
harmony to form that word, to form all those words and thoughts and phrases and
promises and silent regret. I still loved him.
I know its been so long. I know you’ve moved on with your life, but I beg that
you just let me see you. Please meet me at Pasquale’s for noon next Saturday.
It was short, it was concise, it was plain, yet I somehow cherished every word. It
really had been so long since I’d seen him that when I found the letter in my mail
box and saw the return address from a Mr. Jack Bristol, I all but passed out on the
sidewalk. I hadn’t seen Jack in ten years, hadn’t known if he was dead or alive,
and to be honest, had stopped really caring a long time ago. Dwelling on his absence
in my life caused me more pain than it was worth, so I avoided it. I deliberately
avoided the houses along the river, I purposely avoided a tiny bookstore on the
corner of Ralph and Pickwick avenue, I avoided the cherry blossoms in bloom, the
gondola filled canals, and any other insignificant thing that would potentially
remind me of him-of our innocent promises, of our long lost dreams, how in love we
I suppose its strange for a grown woman to run away from her foolish teenage years.
I suppose it’s a bit mad of me to be haunted all these years later, but not a day
goes by that I don’t wonder where he is, though I usually push it away, deny it was
ever really a thought. I’d had plenty of boyfriends, plenty of loves, and
sometimes, if I’d become infatuated enough, I’d be free of Jack, if only for a
month or so. This is why I tried to keep myself in love at all times. Whether it
was unrequited, or returned really didn’t matter, so long as I could focus all my
attention on a man, preferably one that didn’t look like Jack.
So here I was, sitting outside of that tiny Italian café I’d been avoiding for
the longest time, in a green metal chair at a metal table, watching the old man
across from me adjust his tweed hat while I waited for my tea, and for Jack. I
nervously flicked my wrist to check the watch: 12:00 exactly, he’d be here any
moment. I looked to the ground, intently wondering what he would look like, if
he’d changed, if he was coming at all…and after about two minutes a pair of
black, polished shoes came into my field of vision and stopped. I slowly let my eyes
follow the shoes to a pair of pressed pants, up to a white buttoned shirt, lingering
on a rather loose tie, until I finally saw the face I’d so wished to see for ten
years: it was indeed Jack Bristol.
He smiled brilliantly at me and I think I may have laughed a bit before I ran
without a second thought to his waiting arms. He laughed lightly in my ear as we
held each other in a tight embrace. In some ways I was overwhelmed by his presence,
by the overwhelming fact that he was alive, here in my arms, and yet it was
wonderfully natural and familiar.
“I missed you so much, Jack.” I said with a laugh.
“There’ll be time for talking, just let me look at you, you’re so
different.” He gently put his hands on my shoulders and held me at arms length and
as he studied me, I did the same. He was still tall, still black haired with bright
green eyes and freckles that were almost unnoticeable if one didn’t know they were
bolder in his younger years. He still had that mouth that always looked on the verge
of laughter, though his eyes were piercing wisdom, at least to me. He gave me a
quick glance and lightly ran his fingers across my face to gather a piece of hair and
tuck it behind my ear.
“You look so grown up.” he said seriously.
“Yes Jack, so do you,” I smiled lightly, “it’s what usually happens to
I could tell he was thinking, just like I always had been able to. I felt
uncomfortable, knowing he was thinking about something to do with me so intently. I
wasn’t ready to be analyzed. There would be time for that as well.
“Hey, why don’t we sit down.” I strolled over to the chair in which I’d
been sitting in previously and looked back at him, watching as he came over to sit
opposite me. He leaned toward me and rested his elbows on the table and rested his
chin in his hands.
“So tell me Roxanne, have you found what you were looking for.” I wasn’t sure
just what he meant by what he said, I wasn’t sure in what manner he meant it, but I
answered as honestly as I could.
I grew up on a farm, out in a tiny little town called Brexton. It was a picturesque
small town, complete with shiny downtown window fronts, with church going,
God-fearing people, with friendly neighbors and huge families: for me it was home,
it was my whole life. More honestly though, in a way Jack Bristol was my whole life.
He’d been born six months and three days before me and our parents’ land
adjoined in the woods, close enough for a five year old girl to wander into
mischievously one summer day.
I’d had it planned out for some time, of course. My father had graciously given
me access to the entire fields, all the gardens, and any other open land which
covered a good 7 acres, but of course I had to know what was so wonderfully forbidden
about the woods. So naturally, I decided to find out for myself. I believe it was a
Saturday morning and I was sitting, finishing breakfast at the round top table in the
kitchen and Daddy asked me as he did every morning what my plans for the day were.
“I’m going to see how long it takes me to run to the edge of the field and to
run back.” I knew he would think nothing of this, since I did so pretty often and
if I remember correctly he didn’t even look up from his newspaper before I was out
I felt quite adventurous with my yellow sundress and sandals. I glanced back at the
house quickly, just to make sure Momma of all people hadn’t become suspicious and I
set off running for the cool dark shadows that were strictly prohibited. There was a
thrill in blatantly breaking a rule. This was something I’d never done before and
for the first time in my life, I smiled at the sheer sunlight, at the feel of the
wind at my back, at the prospect of adventure. I ran blindly and with abandon,
jumping over a stone here, prancing around a log there. I felt wild, free, untamed,
and I was tempted to rip the ribbons out of my hair and undo the braids Momma had to
carefully and properly fixed, but I got a hold of myself and concentrated on reaching
the woods before they could miss me.