The Love Letter
“Hi honey, I’m home!” Faith called out, a trace of laughter in her voice.
“In the kitchen!” Phoebe called back.
Faith bustled into the kitchen, quickly pecking Phoebe on the cheek, then headed straight to the balcony.
“Thank God it’s Friday,” she said, as she got down onto her knees, leaned over the basket and kissed Buttons on her head.
“How’s our little angel been?” she asked in a soothing voice.
“Fine, if not a bit manic; she’s been up and down those curtains like a yoyo!”
“That’s what kittens are supposed to do… have fun,” Faith said, as she attempted to pick Buttons up. Phoebe was by her side in a second, gently restraining her hand.
“How about we let her sleep for a while, it will help her grow.”
Faith pouted like a sulking child. “But I’ve been waiting all day to see her.”
Phoebe shook her head with dour amusement. “How about…” she said, pulling Faith up and encircling her in an embrace, “…you go and get changed, I’ll open a bottle of wine, and then…” she kissed the top of Faith’s nose, “…we’ll wake the little one up and you can keep her entertained while I’m cooking?”
At once Faith’s demeanour changed. “Sounds good to me,” she said, smiling enigmatically, her facial bones were delicately carved, her mouth full and thick dark hair hung in long curves over her shoulders.
“Red or white?” Phoebe asked, as they untangled from their embrace.
“Hmmm. I think I’ll go with white tonight. That red one we bought gives me heartburn!”
“Okay sweetheart, white it is.”
“Won’t be long,” Faith said, as she picked up her briefcase and headed towards the bedroom.
“Oh I forgot to say…” Phoebe called out after her, “I’ve put your mail on the bedside cabinet. Little one here has been having a field day trying to shred anything she can get her hands on!”
Faith dropped her case on the bedroom floor and began to undress. The shades of pale greens on the walls and furnishings, gave the room a feeling of stillness and calm. She quickly changed into jeans and a white sweater, then pinned her hair back using a clip. As she went to leave the room, she picked up the letter Phoebe had put on the cabinet for her. She walked through to the hallway, picked up the envelope knife, and slid it through the opening at the top. Enclosed was a white sheet of paper folded in half. Inside the sheet was a rumpled envelope which looked like it was decades old. The address on the front of the envelope was barely legible. Faith could just make out the words Ms Smith and her address. Intrigued, she began to read the letter.
Dear Ms Smith
My husband and I have recently moved into our new home. Whilst clearing out the attic we found this unopened letter addressed to you. Please find it enclosed.
How strange, Faith thought, and she gently peeled back the flap of the envelope. The date on the letter was 1930, the words were written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery with a drawing of a little yellow rose in the left-hand corner. She began to read the letter.
My dearest love
I know the last time we met I said we could not be together as we both had too much to lose, but I have come to the conclusion that my life would not be worth living if I can’t be with you. I hope you can forgive my indecision. Please meet me at our special place on Friday at 2pm. I will understand if you don’t turn up, but I very much hope that you do.
Love for now and always
Faith reread the short letter several times trying to let it digest in her mind. “Phoebe!” she called ahead of her, “Phoebe!”
“What is it?!” Phoebe came rushing out from the kitchen.
“Oh my God, read this,” she said, thrusting the letter to her.
“Wait, let me get my glasses,” she said, as she walked into the living room to retrieve them from the coffee table. Quickly scanning the letter, she looked up to an equally shocked Faith.
“Is this what I think it is?” she said aghast, her jade coloured eyes widening with astonishment.
“Yes, well at least I think so.” She was barely able to control her gasp of surprise.
“Oh my god, how very sad,” Phoebe said, taking her glasses off and sitting on the arm of the sofa. She ran her slender fingers through her golden hair.
“Well it must have been very difficult for lesbians in the 1930’s.” Her voice faded to a hushed stillness.
“I dread to think what life was like for them. The thought of not being able to be with someone you love because of what society thinks sends shivers down my spine!” Her voice was resigned.
“I know.” Faith put her hand on Phoebes shoulder. “We just don’t know how lucky we are,” she said, her voice thick with emotion.
“What’s that look on your face for?” Phoebe asked, as she pushed herself to a standing position to face Faith.
“What look?” she asked, attempting to disarm her with her smile.
“That look – when you have an idea running through your mind at a hundred miles an hour.”
“I was just thinking…” A plan wandered into the unlit section of her mind.
“Yes?” There was a pensive shimmer in the shadow of her eyes.
“Well, maybe we can try and find out who this Ms Smith was or Bella.”
A flicker, then a flame of comprehension crossed Phoebe’s face. “It shouldn’t be that difficult to find out about Ms Smith, seeing as she must have once lived in this house, there must be a record of her,” she said, caught up in the throes of Faith’s plan.
“You’re right!” Faith ran back into the bedroom and withdrew her mobile phone from her case.
“Who are you calling?” Phoebe asked, over her shoulder.
“Our very own Estate agent Elaine, she must know how we can find out who Ms Smith was!”
Excitedly, Faith began to press the digits on the phone then lifted the phone to her ear. Within seconds, the call had been answered.
“Hi Elaine, it’s Faith…I’m very well thank you…yes we’re settling in great…uh huh, well actually no it’s not about the house itself, more like a previous occupant..It’s a quite unusual request really…we’re trying to track down someone who lived here in 1930.” Faith laughed in response to something Elaine said.
“I know, but if you could give it your best shot we’d be really grateful…you’re the best, thanks Elaine,” she said with a smile and rung off.
“Well?” Phoebe asked eagerly.
“She said she’s going to go through their records tomorrow…she said if she lived here it should be easy enough to find her.”
Phoebe squealed in delight. “That would be amazing if we could deliver this letter to her!”
“Don’t start getting ahead of yourself just yet…she might be dead for all we know, she would be well in her eighties now.”
The brief period of exhilaration vanished. “Yeah, I suppose.”
“Let’s just pray to god she’s not.”
Both women were awoken by the loud shrill of the phone.
“Who on earth could that be phoning this early?” Phoebe groaned as she pulled the feathered pillow over her face.
Faith blindly stumbled for her phone. “Hello?” she said, her voice sounding tired. “Elaine!” she sprang up, her body alert. “Of course it’s not too early, did you find anything?” she asked now sounding fully awake.
Phoebe fidgeted impatiently beside Faith as she nodded her head and made several uh huh responses. She grabbed a pen off the side and began writing. Finally, she said “Elaine you are an absolute star I could kiss you! Thank you!”
Faith turned to Phoebe. “You are not going to believe it – she bloody well found her!”
“Not in a cemetery I hope?”
“Nope, in a home and it’s only ten minutes away!”
“You are kidding me!”
“No, I’m not!”
“Elaine managed to get in touch with the previous owners – they bought the house from Ms Margaret Smith ten years ago when she moved into a retirement home and they have been in contact with her ever since.”
“So what’s our next move Bat woman?”
“I’m going to call the home and see if we can visit her, then we can hand deliver her the letter she should have received over seventy years ago.”
Faith turned to get out of bed.
“One thing before you go…”
Faith stopped in her tracks.
“So you could kiss her huh?”
“As if I would darling…these lips are only for you my love,” she said, the smile in her eyes contained a sensuous flame.
“They’d better be.” Phoebe said as the beginning of a smile tipped the corners of her mouth,
“Blimey! I hope our nursing home looks like this when it’s our time,” Faith said, as they entered the Millhouse Nursing home. A pleasant looking middle-aged woman staffed the bright and airy reception area.
“Good morning ladies, how can I help you?”
“Good morning,” they said in union.
“We’re here to see Ms Margaret Smith,” Faith said, “I called this morning and was told Ms Smith would be happy for us to visit her.”
“I’m sure she will. She loves having visitors, she’s a very popular lady with most of the residents,” the receptionist said.
“Ahh, that’s good,” Faith said, not knowing what response the woman was looking for.
“She’ll be in the day room getting ready for morning exercise class. If you just go through those double doors it’s just on your left hand side.”
“Thank you,” Faith said, as they made their way through the door.
Both women approached a slender, dark haired woman wearing jeans and a blue apron who was busy setting up a music centre in the spacious room.
“Excuse me,” Faith said standing behind the figure.
“Yes?” the woman turned to them, her grey eyes vacant.
“We’re looking for Ms Margaret Smith.”
“There she is over there,” she said, pointing towards a sweet, silver-haired elderly woman, then turned back to what she was doing.
“Thank you.” Faith said, despite thinking how rude the woman was.
The women approached Ms Smith, a smile on their faces.
“Ms Smith?” Faith approached her first.
The old woman looked up at them with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye. “Yes dear?”
“Hello, I’m Faith and this is my…um… friend Phoebe. We …um…we have something for you,” she said, as she fumbled in her bag for the letter.
“What’s this dear?” she asked as Faith handed it to her.
“Something you should have received a very long time ago,” she said softly.
Ms Smith took the envelope from her and lifted the gold-rimmed spectacles glasses to her face. As soon as she looked at the faint writing on the letter, tears welled in her eyes. Her hands started to shake as she withdrew the letter from the envelope and began to read it.
“Where did you get this?” she asked, barely audible.
“It was delivered to our home yesterday…we bought the house you lived in many years ago.”
“My, oh my,” Ms Smith mumbled to herself, as she pressed the letter against her left breast. “Oh Bella, Bella,” she muttered softly. Tears freely fell from her eyes.
Faith kneeled in front of her and took her spare hand. “I’m so sorry if bringing you this has upset you, it wasn’t our intention,” she said, her own eyes welling up.
The old woman brought her hand to Faiths cheek. “You have made an old woman very happy dear, more than you’ll ever know.”
Relieved, Faith smiled.
“Is everything okay?” the care assistant asked, looking accusingly at the two women.
“Yes Dawn, everything is okay now,” she said as she squeezed Faith’s hand. “Thank you…both,” she said, looking at Phoebe.
“You’re welcome,” Phoebe said.
“Right, class is going to start in a minute Ms Smith.” The care assistant barked.
“It’s okay we’re just leaving,” Faith said standing up.
“If you could I’d like you both to visit again, I’d like to tell you my story.”
“We would love to,” Phoebe reassured her.
“Dawn dear, could I bother you to put this letter in my room for safe keeping whilst I take my class?”
“You’re pushing it a bit fine here Ms Smith, I’m teaching the class and everyone is ready,” she said, as she took the letter from her. As she did so, a look of confusion crossed her face.
Both women looked at each other. “What a bitch,” Faith mouthed.
Phoebe nodded her head trying to hide her annoyance.
“I’ll show your visitors out,” Dawn said, as Ms Smith held on to the arm of the chair to lift herself up.
Walking along the corridor Dawn put her hand gently on Faith’s arm.
“I don’t know if I’m out of place saying this,” she said, holding the letter up in the air, “but this letter…”
“What about it?” Phoebe asked aggressively, turning towards her, ready to give her a piece of her mind.
“Well…” she began slowly, “I don’t know if this is a coincidence but a resident on the second floor uses this same writing paper.”
“Really?” both women asked, shocked.
“Yes, and her name is Bella.”
Copyright 2012 by Jade Winters.
All rights reserved. This short story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author. All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.