Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Letters (Part Eleven)

(Letters is my series exploring a war-
time relationship across the miles.
Find the beginning here.)

Note: There has been no more
communication from Hannah,
and only silence from Elise. But
not for so long that it couldn't be
the slowness of the mail system.

Dear Elise,

My hand feels like it’s hanging by a thread, but I wanted to write you. I wanted to tell you that I love you. I wanted to tell you that I never left you. Not even when I felt death rattling in my lungs, and whispering in my ear. Not even then.

I wanted to tell you that you have nothing to fear.

You’re scared right now, and you don’t know why. I’m better, and yet you still can’t sleep. You’re thinking of Hannah and me, and the fact that you’re not here. You want to be big enough that it doesn't destroy you. You’re tired of the wondering, of drilling into every word, the spaces between. And when you fail in these endeavors, you feel like you don’t deserve me at all. You’re even considering whether you should just give me to her. Finish it all, choke on the ashes. The End.

Maybe there’s a bitter peace in that, Elise. Maybe. It’s easy to want to be noble when you hate yourself. Martyrdom has a certain mystique.

I’m not something for you to give. Do you hear me? We are not something apart. If you were to push me towards Hannah, I might grasp on. Yes. I don’t deny it. But only to numb the pain. Only because I’m still scared enough of dying that I’m willing to cling to a hollow sort of living.

What about my fear, Elise? Doesn’t it mean anything to you? Your silence wounds me, right at the moment when I need to heal. Rise above your hurt and self-loathing, and give me your shoulder. I’m going to need it.

I’m coming home in three weeks.



p.s. The poem I mentioned to Hannah was "I carry your heart with me." I’d forgive her for forgetting that. I'd never forgive you.


Part Twelve is here


David Cranmer said...

"Rattling in my lungs, and whispering in my ear." Excellente!

Charles Gramlich said...

It's interesting and true that we put more demands on those we love the most than on the ones we love only a little. as in your PS.

Jennifer said...

I feel such a rush of relief with this letter, Sarah! And I love the line, "I'm not something for you to give." One the one hand, it is such a beautiful statement of his connection to her--even if she wanted to, she doesn't have the ability to give him away; he won't go. But it's also opens some vulnerability in Elise, because if she had the power to give him away it would imply a certain level of control over the situation. I can imagine how much she wants to feel in control of something--given his illness, given Hannah--even if exerting that control cost her dearly.

Sarah Hina said...

David, thanks so much!

Charles, I agree. The expectations are usually higher. Here, Patrick also expects Elise to remember because it's their poem.

Jennifer, I love your comments!! :) That's a powerfully astute observation. I think Elise is paralyzed right now. And so you're right--anything to break that impotency becomes possible. Even if the relief imagined would be extremely short-sighted, and much too bitter.

Thank you, Jennifer, for caring so much about these characters. Your involvement in this series means so much to me! :)

Anonymous said...

Coming home in three weeks....

At last, for them the exquisite battles of distance (or exquisite protection of distance) will cease. The avalanche of the moment will prevail, for good or ill.

I trust they'll have the antidote to the poison. If it persists, even in a small way, the paralysis will cripple them. Inevitably.

Catvibe said...

Sarah, this was so good for Elise to hear, she is so immensely relieved. I know because I'm not even her and this gave me chills. It is so interesting how loud silence can speak, and leave everyone guessing at exactly what it means. There is so much pain and confusion in those moments of wondering.

Aine said...

I, too, am relieved a bit. But I know the true test of their relationship is ahead of them still.

Interestingly, I felt anger from him that seemed misplaced and inconsiderate. I felt that he was too presumptuous to believe that she "hates herself". I didn't see any self-loathing in her. Fear and loss of control, but not low esteem or self-loathing.

So, I'm still on edge, wondering where you are taking them...

Sarah Hina said...

Jason, I don't think the distance is protective. If it were, they were never meant for one another, anyway. I think the distance is the disease.

They both could do better with that burden. Luckily for them, they soon won't have to. Things won't magically heal with that reunion, but at least they can look into one another's eyes and find what's there.

Until then, they'll just have to work harder.

Cat, yes, silence can be like death sometimes. And like a weapon that was never meant to wielded.

I'm happy you felt that relief! :) Hopefully, Elise will feel likewise. I think she will, if with a few twinges.

Aine, that's interesting! Maybe he's inferring too much, as well. Misplacing his own anger and confusion on her.

Or maybe he knows her better than anyone, and is exactly right, in spite of the lack of evidence as to her feelings.

We'll see...

(I'm getting tired of my own teases...surely a sign that the end of the series must be near! ;))

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

I don't know how I feel. I know he was being honest with her, and I commend him for that. Some of his words made me say.."What a man!" Other lines made me a little mad... "If you were to push me towards Hannah, I might grasp on. Yes. I don’t deny it. But only to numb the pain."

In any case, I am looking forward to the reunion of these two. Can they get past this terrible ordeal in their lives?

Karen said...

Sometimes fear translates as anger, and I think that Patrick, as ill as he is, must be terribly frightened about what his life will be like if Elise pushes him away. I think he is trying to shock her into moving back to him. He was pretty hard on her, but hopefully, just enough to awaken her. I hope for them...

I can't wait to find out how she reacts.

Sarah Hina said...

K, I understand your reactions. I almost felt the same while writing it! ;)

But I do think Patrick, in this moment of nakedness and uncertainty, demands brutal honesty from himself and others. In a way, maybe Elise will be relieved to just know.

Karen, I think you're completely right. Fear and anger are aggressive emotions. This letter is a shock treatment. She'll be hurt, but at least her feet will be firmly on the ground, and she'll know where to walk.

I think...


Aniket Thakkar said...

Elise is too good for Patrick! Now, he better get back home in three weeks!

Sorry, couldn't control myself! Can't wait to read Elise's response! Eagerly waiting for the next letter!

Sarah Hina said...

Aniket, thank you so, so much for going back and reading through the entire series! It meant a lot to me to see all of your comments. :)

But I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you. :P I don't think Elise is too good for him. I think he's just what she needs. It's their miserable circumstances that have gummed things up.

But I certainly honor your impassioned opinion! ;) Thank you, my friend.

Aniket Thakkar said...

I know... I was just overflowed with emotions having read the whole series in one go... (No hard feelings Patrick :) )

You have created a whole new world surrounding these characters... I was so reminded of 'The English Patient'... have you seen it?

Sarah Hina said...

You made me laugh! Yes, I've seen it.

It's only my favorite movie. :D

And the fact that you found a comparison here is the highest compliment to me. Thank you again, Aniket.

(I realized after the Hannah the nurse, and the film's Hana the nurse; I really do love the book, too. Ondaatje is remarkable)

Aniket Thakkar said...

Glad I made you smile... perhaps you can return the favor by giving Elise something to smile about! :-D
(I know am asking too much... :) :) What can I say... am a greedy person!)

Phew... I always run out of adjectives to praise your work as "Beautiful", "amazing", "marvelous" seem so underrated! Am relieved somehow I achieved the highest compliment... those were the honest intentions!

Sarah Hina said...

Mission accomplished, then! :) :)

And don't worry about being repetitive with compliments...if they're honestly given, then I would happily accept the same one every time. I just appreciate your careful readings and generous spirit.

Thanks again, Aniket! :)