Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Letters (Part Seven)


(Letters is my series exploring a war-time
relationship across the miles. Here are Parts
One , Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six.)


Dear Patrick,

I’m in this unholy place of wanting you to be well, and hoping you’re sick enough to come home to me. I’m like one of those dogs of Pavlov’s, except that when I hear the bell, I don’t know whether to salivate or flinch before a shock to come. My mind has frozen in place, even as my heart is wild with blood.

Lana Jenkins’ son almost died of diphtheria. Did you know? It was twenty years ago, but she cried when I gave her the news of your condition. She stroked my arm like you were already gone, while I stood there, fumbling this mask of fortitude that these iron women snap on. It makes me want to scream, or laugh. Something in between, probably. But I’m being uncharitable. Everyone has been awfully kind.

I’m actually too scared to hope for anything, darling. I’m too numb to allow myself the small pleasure of dreams. Do you know what I’ve been doing for the last few days? Cleaning. A terrible, ammonia-dazed scouring and scrubbing. My nails are ragged, but this house has never been so damn sterile. A bird slammed into the kitchen pane yesterday to congratulate me. But no window is ever transparent enough to fool me. Not until I see your face on the other side.

I am still here, Patrick. My heart is laced to yours. That will never change. I am conscious of, and connected to, all of your pain. When you say you have trouble breathing, I fill my lungs with more air. When you say that your thoughts are scattering, I want to collect them with a butterfly net. When you admit to wanting to protect me from the truth, I long to be your shield.

Get better, darling. That is all that matters. As for me, I’m putting my sponge and broom aside for now. I need to take a nice, hot bath.


Love,

Elise

---

Part Eight is here

18 comments:

Jennifer said...

This is so lovely, and the sentiment in that first line just resonates. Period.

Beautiful!

Charles Gramlich said...

Sometimes hope has a high cost.

Sarah Hina said...

Jennifer, I'm so glad this piece touched you. This series just keeps pulling me deeper. Thank you, my friend. :)

Charles, you're right. I think she's her own shield right now.

jason evans said...

This one is so potent. I think I've enjoyed it the most of all. Not only is it hard-hitting with its emotion, but it's also beautifuly wrought. But not so much that we can't believe they are her own words.

*Applause*

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

When you admit to wanting to protect me from the truth, I long to be your shield.

What strong emotion from Elise..and I know she means it. That is why she is so strong and endearing a character.

Another amazing letter in a series of many!

OMG - my word verification is "dying" !!!! I have chills!

David Cranmer said...

Sarah, This series continues to hook me. Keep 'em coming...

Sarah Hina said...

Jason, I'm glad you found it intense, yet believable. That is important to me in this medium. Thanks for the kind words, and the applause!

*bows* ;)

K, ack! Don't tell me that! No jinxes allowed. :p

It is interesting writing two characters with the same longing, but different voices. I always think Elise is trying to move Heaven and Earth with her words, while Patrick is threading a needle. If that makes any sense at all.

Thank you again for relating so well to these characters, K! I always enjoy your reactions. :)

David, will do. :) And thank you for coming back for more.

Chris Eldin said...

I will come back later to read this one, but just wanted to congratulate you on a wonderful interpretation of Ascension!!
Vintage Sarah!
:-)

Jennifer said...

Hi again,

I just read the first parts of this series and first of all, how amazing that they stand alone as satisfying pieces, but second, just...wow. The writing is so tender and controlled, and the dance between them is perfectly executed. Is this just for the blog, or is it part of a larger project?

Sarah Hina said...

Chris, aw, thanks. :) It was a great treat to be a guest writer--I wouldn't have wanted to miss all the fun!

I hope things are going well for you in Dubai, Chris.

Jennifer, I'm so glad you checked out the whole series! :) I had thought of possibly writing a novel from this concept--starting out each chapter with alternating letters and filling out their individual stories in a more conventional fashion. I'm still stewing over the idea, but not totally convinced.

I do appreciate your warm words and enthusiasm for the pieces, though. Thanks for letting me know! :)

Aine said...

The way writers (including Elise) can use words to turn thoughts and feelings into something more, something with shape and form, and thereby grow new or stronger thoughts and feelings (perhaps create meaning in an otherwise practical or mundane or simply human moment) amazes me. I could never write such a letter, and so I'm in awe of those who can.
:)

And, I'm so glad she's not neglecting her own needs! The bath will not only cleanse her, but keep her centered in living (in the Now!! ha!).

As always-- I can't wait to see where you take us next!

Sarah Hina said...

Aine, I think baths are always a good idea. :) Maybe Elise will grab a book, too. ;)

Thank you for wonderful words about writing. There is a desire to compress things down to an essence and then grow that kernel into a purer strain, I think. It doesn't always work, but I'm so happy that you thought it did here!

As for where it goes from here, I still (embarrassingly) don't know. But I'm glad you're along for the ride. :D

Karen said...

Beautiful! I must go back to the beginning...

Vesper said...

But no window is ever transparent enough to fool me. Not until I see your face on the other side.

Beautiful... I love this...

Yet, I can feel a tiny knot stirring in my stomach... I'm afraid for Patrick.

Sarah Hina said...

Karen, thank you! I'm happy you wanted to read the whole series. :)

Vesper, thanks for pointing out those lines! As for Patrick, I won't spoil anything, but just know that I've become rather attached to these characters, too. ;)

Catvibe said...

Sarah, this is so sad. I can just imagine her cleaning and cleaning just to keep from collapsing in worry. God, I'm afraid to see the truth in what has happened to him, you are doing a great job of building up the suspense.

Sarah Hina said...

Cat, I do think we'll do anything to keep our minds off of something painful and pressing, even if it's just a delay mechanism. And even if it's cleaning (not my first choice of distractions, that's for sure!). ;)

Thank you for finding the series engrossing still. This is my first time doing a lengthy series like this, so it's good to know I'm doing something right. :)

Aniket Thakkar said...

"But no window is ever transparent enough to fool me. Not until I see your face on the other side." ... This says it all!!! The desperation for the reality to show its face somehow reminded me of the song "When will my reflection show... who I am inside"! This is enchanting!