I think that’s right. The world woke up to another senseless shooting so it’s hard to concentrate and yet the world spins on. So enjoy a break from the harsh reality of today and remember that we all need to pull together in love and peace.
This is from my latest novel which you can get here: Beyond the Cracks
Emily texts me that Milo asked about me at bedtime, and says she hopes this text finds me well. This is a reference to the summers we spent in Wales when we were younger.
Every once in a while our mom would decide to tour with our dad, and when they were away I missed them terribly. Emily would distract me by reading Jane Eyre novels aloud, and then concocting imaginary games in which we were separated from one another by a great distance, but looking forward to reuniting at a huge ball we would both be attending. We would write one another long letters about our lives, mine in the country, and hers in London among high society. We both always ended our letters with, I hope this letter finds you well.
I stare at my phone wanting to reply, but not certain what I want to say. I know she had every right to be angry last night. I was the one who was late, and I was the one who drank before going into church. I tell myself to forgive and forget is divine, and begin composing the following text.
“Although better now, it has been a difficult season. Father has had to return to the city to tend to business, and I am left here alone to navigate what can at times be overwhelming. Sir Jeremy is here with me now, strictly for a platonic visit. Alas, I feel him pulling away as his memory returns (he must have fallen off a horse or something). Cousin Tim is in the guest house with his young bride (who is not his bride at all) and theirs is a volatile relationship that exploded this very evening into cries and accusations. What I am trying to convey is that these are troubling times in our kingdom (that is no kingdom at all) Stay Calm and Carry On is the motto by which I desire to live, but as you can no doubt understand, it is not always easy. Forgive me my indiscretions, for I am trying my best. (Translated: I haven’t had a drink all day). I hope this text finds you well.”
I hit send and wait to see if she will respond. She does so a few minutes later.
“Dearest Ellie, I too have been inundated with my share of challenges of late. I am sorry to hear of Sir Jeremy’s recent fall. I know his departure was painful for you, and can only assume his return in any capacity is confusing at best. It was glorious to hear your sweet voice singing out in choir last night. It is my upmost desire that you will reconsider your stance, and join us on Sunday. I promise you, your absence will be felt should you decline. Perhaps we could lunch after mass? Hope you remain well. All my love, Emily.”
“I’ll think about it,” I reply, adding, “I love you too.”
I wish I could go back to those summers when we were so close. At the time Emily was the best big sister there could be. We did everything together and I idolized her. After Ethan’s accident though, our world changed. We stopped playing games because suddenly life had become too serious. I still needed the escape, but Emily grew up fast. She became my mom’s confidant when my dad had to travel, and I was suddenly discarded, and told I was too young to understand. They didn’t want to hear my questions, or maybe they just couldn’t. Maybe they knew my doubts would prove toxic to the only belief they had, which was that God would protect them and spare Ethan.
I fall asleep with the TV on and wake up the next morning alone. I go looking for Jeremy and find him asleep in the screening room. I debate waking him, but don’t. Instead I go upstairs, put on that ugly floral bathing suit, and jump into the pool determined to swim at least two full laps without stopping. I fall short.
Discouraged, I catch my breath and try again, falling even shorter. God, I feel old! I float face down, wondering what the point is. I’m feeling really sorry for myself, and about to start crying when something hard hits me in the back. I flail onto my back only to see a tennis ball floating next to me, and Jeremy sitting on a chaise lounge with a cup of coffee in his hands.
“What the hell was that for?” I demand.
“Just making sure you’re alive,” he says.
I flip him off and get out of the pool, grab the towel hanging on the chaise next to him, and march back into the house.
“Don’t be mad,” he calls after me.
I’ll be lucky if I don’t have a giant bruise to go with the one on my arm. I pour myself some coffee, mostly because it smells amazing, and leaning against the center island for a minute, watch Jeremy, wondering what he is thinking. He lays back on the chaise lounge, sets his coffee cup on a side table, and folds his arms behind his head. He looks comfortable. In fact, I realize he always looks comfortable. I tell myself I want to be just like him if I ever grow up.
I go upstairs, take a shower and consider trying to seduce him. I debate which I want more, to have sex with Jeremy, or to get drunk. They are neck and neck, but before I can make a decision he yells upstairs that he needs to leave. I walk out to the hallway, drop my towel, and ask if he is sure about that.