A Small White Envelope
It was just an ordinary square white envelope. The address had been typed onto a label – so I was one of many to receive them. It was stiff; it obviously contained a small card – an invitation perhaps? Was I expecting anything? I recognised the postmark; it came from where she lived when last we had been in touch.
Love letters straight from your heart; keep us so near while apart
The memories came flooding back…
For the first time in our lives, we had begun to understand the term “soul-mates.” Somehow we just seemed to click. Our values coincided as did our emotions. We could smile and know what the other was thinking. A special look would pass between us and the other would say, “I love you too!”
Then I recalled that together we had made a shameful decision many years earlier. We could have returned and undone the wrong, but we both blamed each other. Honesty and decency allied with candour had been part of our lives. To have committed what might have been seen as a minor but wrong action was a grievous memory to us; but the consequences of a confession would be damaging to our “Sunday School” reputations.
Perhaps it was the enormity of that decision, or the fact that we would have difficulty in facing each other, knowing what we had done, that had blown us apart. We had seemed to be so much in love. This could have been the great love of our lives and we had made such a major decision so quickly and without thinking of the consequences.
Then my job took me 200 miles away, but we stayed in touch – on paper. But I was a man away from home, in a big city with all its temptations.
After that, we had gone our separate ways, despite attempts by me to restore what was lost. So deep was this loss that I had started to write about it. Would it be a novel, laced with creative licence? Or would it be autobiographical? So strong had my feelings been for her that locked away in the loft in an old cardboard shoe box, I had kept all her letters. Here were photographs too, as well as one truly poignant feature – a receipt for a dozen red roses with the message “Please come back.” All of this was to no avail.
Now, after over thirty years of heartache I had the time and capacity to mount a search for her. But was it really to be? Three firms of private detectives had drawn blanks. Had they tried hard enough? Or was the old adage, if you want something done properly, do it yourself!
Eventually, I found her, then like Pandora’s Box, I opened it without thinking, to find that only hope remained.
I learned to my dismay that her past few years had been spent living in a tied cottage with second hand furniture, working for an old folk’s charity. That’s where she’d met Ted. Her job had been to stimulate the minds of these old people; he had been one of them. She tried to help them to remember the good times and support them when the sad memories got the better of them. She was a kind woman. She too had loved and lost many times in her life. Most of all, she said, with me all those years ago; so she told me. When briefly I’d arrived back in her life she was overjoyed at first, then realised that my marriage was solid – she complained with some sadness that I was just clearing my conscience. Perhaps we could have been happy if she had not driven me away. She also said that she had loved me all those years ago, but she had made the decision to send me away. Why? Because I could not be faithful and I just could not resist temptation.
Now it looked like she was going to get married again – and once again not to me.
It was probably to Ted. I had met Ted, a widower, a couple of times. Ted was dour man with a north Lancashire accent which seemed a strangely foreign sound – even in west Merseyside where the scouse dialect is so strong.
Why had she chosen Ted? Security probably – not the emotional type of course, but probably financial. Of course I hoped she would be happy, secure, comfortable and content
Was it to be a big do? Did I really want to go?
I fingered the envelope almost not wishing to open it, turning it over and over again, thinking and remembering. Perhaps I should just send a cheque with best wishes and then forget about her completely – again. Just as I had had been forced to do, forty years earlier. What would be the point of being there in the church listening to her being given away, again? But not to me.
I reached for the silver letter opener – a gift from her all those years ago. It was still in pristine condition, in its original box, in my desk. The notelet, covered with roses, that said “with love” had been lost – it was only a scrap of paper and my desk had been moved many times over forty years. But the letter opener had come from her so it would remain with me forever.
I turned the envelope over so as not to face the address and stamp. I inserted the silver blade slowly and with trepidation. Could she really be marrying Ted of all people?
I was right it was a card carrying an invitation.
I read the contents. A lump rose in my throat. The tears that I had expected burned in the back of my eyes before cascading down my cheek.
Yes I would send a cheque.
I could not bear the thought of her lying there in her coffin.
But I still have all her letters.
DD July 2014
About the Author
David Deanshaw has had a varied business career, firstly in banking, then as a management consultant and more recently involved in the regeneration of run down town centres. In addition he had a life in local politics, including dealings with Government Ministers. He has had several letters published in The Times, Sunday Times and Birmingham Post of a political and business nature.
He has been involved with every community in which he has lived for over sixty years.
When asked why he joined a writers group some years ago, he said “I have been writing business fiction for ages, so I thought I would try real fiction.”
He intends to use his experience in writing a mixture of short stories, whilst planning a couple of novels based on situations he saw in the of finance and politics.