River writes to Jude:
Let’s pretend we live in a novel, where old lovers reach out through the years and send letters seeking closure and that that’s totally normal. This is just an over-due reply to messages sent long ago. I hope it’s not incredibly intrusive but it is nothing more than that, just the end of a conversation. Closure. You were in a dream of mine last night, which brought you back to my mind as someone familiar and I suppose that is what gave me the courage to write this letter.
The problem is that you were in my dream last night. I feel like there is some unfinished business that has remained unresolved and suspended in time since the time we were familiar and that, like a ghost in the form of you, creeps back in to my subconscious through the cracks of broken memories and corrupt mental synapses and I wake up writhing in pain some mornings from time to time. I guess I am too sentimental. I guess the reason why this still hovers over my head and my life is because we never really had the chance to have a tête-à-tête to talk through it all after the end and that was a bit cruel because we or at least I never reached proper closure but circumstances had to have it that way. This letter seeks to close the gaps and seal them, to let things go and remove any possible trauma. It has been 6 whole years and this is my end to the conversation.
We were kids, I know… the pictures bare witness to that; our skin still soft, our faces still fresh and pure and smiling truthfully, our eyes still filled with sparks and wonderment. I was a year older; maybe that is why I suffered a bit more because even though you knew of life a lot more than I did, I guess you still had growing up to do and so did I. Perhaps it all meant more to me than it did to you but that’s OK, I have made peace with that possibility. Regardless of our age, what I felt then was the strongest I’ve ever felt about anything – perhaps because I cloaked myself in a veil of numbness after that, unable to bare something as painful and perhaps as beautiful a second time. Or perhaps, I just grew up.
There are other loves that come afterwards, and they are wonderful, but there is something different about that first time. Perhaps I have always been infatuated with the idea…
Everything that happened then, all that I experienced with you were pivotal moments in my life and an inseparable part of my being since they made me grow to who I am today, although certainly a lot less innocent, and dare I say wiser. Perhaps because it was such a big part of me is why it was hard to let go. Perhaps my memories of everything are distorted and I can’t remember the events objectively enough for what they really were. Maybe you remember things much differently and maybe I am over-sentimental, as I tend to be. I kept your letter, the one you gave me on my birthday. This is what I remember from you, I remember you truly loving me. I don’t know if that was child’s play but in any case it is in the past. I just want the story to be a good one and I want you to remember me as you saw me in that letter. That is all I ask, to be remembered well.
I went back to read the last of our conversation that we conducted through the messages in the Book of Faces to see what the last words we exchanged were. Before my last messages (which I don’t regret too much), I was embarrassed to see how that girl spoke. I don’t exactly recognize her now but it made me realize a few things. That girl I was back then in the last days and a bit after that, was really insecure and spoke with a sense of ownership over you and assumed that you and she shared a single conscience. She was so scared of losing you, her first love, the love of her life at the time, that she went a bit mad, and in her fear and confusion she threw out all her wordy ropes trying to tie you down next to her like a wild animal that needed taming to make sure you wouldn’t go away from her. But that made you want to run more, understandably. I would like to apologize on her behalf and this is mostly an apology to myself, so I can forgive myself first and foremost. I am not that girl. However I do hope you understand why she spoke in that manner, she was so scared. She really loved you, you know. However, I don’t want anyone to remember me that way; it is as if a part of the world is misrepresenting me and I don’t want that. What else are we but the stories in the minds of the people whose lives we’ve crossed and sometimes touched? I hope you chose to remember what was good about her. If I can make any requests of you is just that: Please remember what was good about her. I shall do the same for you.
I chose not to reply to your last message back then because I was too hurt, angry and resentful and I guess nothing of what I wanted to hear was in that message, it wasn’t an apology as it claimed to be or at least not the one I needed but maybe you didn’t feel like you owed me one or maybe there were too many things written between the lines that I couldn’t possibly read since I lacked the objectivity. I can’t know, I can’t speak on your behalf; I can only speak of and clear my side.
And here is where I must briefly share my grievances. Yes, you did affect my life immensely and profoundly, equally in good as well as bad ways. I was deeply wounded and changed by it all, by your influence as well as your actions but, us humans, we do that to each other…You said you didn’t think or care enough about how I would feel and you may say it was your life and you did whatever you wanted with it and you should, but you forgot that I was still attached to you… it had only been a few days, so little time. I still carry all that with me. You disposed of me so ungracefully and I don’t think I deserved that…
The reason I didn’t reply was that I was confused, hurt, I felt humiliated; the world as I knew it had collapsed around me and I was still lost in the rubble and I had to rebuild everything, including myself. My reply would have been filled with bitterness which would show a vulnerability that I wouldn’t forgive myself for afterwards, vulnerability that I have regretted showing before, so I chose to say nothing at all. But somehow I needed to respond, there is much I needed to say and that’s what this letter is for. I finally have the words and composure to address the unsaid. I don’t wish to victimize myself, all I wanted was a conversation with an equal, as if I wasn’t a ‘stranger’ as you insinuated, insignificant and inconsequential. I wish I did have that conversation with you to put it all to rest, because it still haunts me even if it doesn’t haunt you.
We are a lot older now; 6 years have passed, we are working on our own paths in life. I don’t know how you chose to remember those times, I don’t know if and how they traumatized you, or if they are still a notable chapter in your life. It’s certainly a story worth telling for me. I don’t know how you chose to remember it or me or if you ever do. Maybe you chose to tear up all the pictures and burn up the memories and pretend that it never happened. Maybe you don’t remember why you loved me in the first place although I hope that’s not the case. Maybe I am a vague memory of your early youth. Maybe I never cross your mind…
I had to turn you into a ghost, like a work of fiction that didn’t really exist in order to be able to move on then. I guess we were lucky we were geographically so far apart. But as a result you turned into a mythical creature, a ghost that shows up every now and then without being there and it needs to go away so I’m trying to send it back to you reaching through time and space. I have moved on and I have loved again so I really have to let the ghost go, it is unfair to me and it is unfair to others.
I am still chasing my ‘dreams’, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed. I’ll only keep the stories of the past as inspiration. I hope you are still writing as I have admired the gift you have always had with words, that ‘which converted [me] to [you] so long ago’ even though it fooled me at times. I hope to read your stories some day, find them in quaint little bookstore. I hope you are well and I wish you luck with whatever you do. I hope 23 year-old you is reading this with a smile. I don’t really know who you are now so I guess I’m sending a letter to a 17 year-old boy back in time. In any case, I needed to write this to end the conversation, for me, and I don’t know, maybe for you too.
We were kids, its true but we were old enough to love truly or at least I was and I will not use ‘we were young’ as a mitigating factor because that would nullify everything. In any case, friend, this is a message I needed to send, in quest for peace. I don’t require any sort of response, perhaps it’s better that this letter is inconsequential. I’ll leave that to you… I don’t even know if this will get to you but I had to send this as a letter.
If this letter means nothing to you, then, dear friend, please have mercy, do not mock me; consider this fiction, some mediocre reading material that has wasted a bit of your time. ☺
If it does, well… perhaps it doesn’t matter and perhaps I will never know.
Just keep the good stuff, alright? Safeguard that summer/year somewhere; cherish them, for the sake of fiction, for the sake of romance.
That is all from me, do what you will with these pages. Just pretend we live in a novel in another era and this is a sweet albeit poignant gesture. These pages should be read lightly and it would be better to take them with a bit of humour, which is somewhat how I intended them. In any case, I hereby free you, in an attempt to free myself. Take care of yourself. Farewell, dear ghost, I truly wish you well.
(An old friend who has grown up/
Someone from another life and another time.)