The Letter

Posted: May 17, 2015 in Featured Scribe, Guest Writers


Rob Davies “The Letter”

 Dear Sarah

I know it’s been a while since we last saw each other. I’m writing to tell you something. I want you to know all the things that no-one but me knew. There are so many things I never told anybody, and I never told you, so now I’m writing you a letter.

It was December when Michael drove off the roof. He had never noticed how beautiful it was before. He had spent so long missing her when she had left, stopping every day to stand still and wonder what she was doing at that very moment. There were times when he would go home after work and cry because he felt so alone, but then, early each morning, he stood still, exactly halfway between the large car park and the small office building where he worked, and he would forget. He stood there because the sun came up over the sea, and the edge of the town overlooked the harbour. So he stood and felt how quiet it could be, and over the days and weeks he began to stop feeling so empty and he began to feel how wide and peaceful the sea and the sunrise were.

It took him weeks and weeks to write the letter, but with every word that came out of him and onto the paper, there was something loosened and finally freed, leaving behind the gaps which became slowly filled with the wide open stillness of those mornings. He didn’t know when it would be finished, but he knew that one day, he would simply stop writing and it would be complete.

Meanwhile, he went to his office each day, and sat at his cramped desk and drifted away while the rest of his mind was working. Some days, he noticed the girl who worked just across the office looking at him. He would pretend not to notice, but when he looked at her she would always ask if he was okay, and he would realise that he had been frowning, or sometimes just staring out of the window without realising it. Her name was Joanna, and he liked her because she was always kind to him, but he didn’t like the way she always looked at him. He didn’t like it because it sometimes reminded him of when Sarah used to look at him, and then he would start thinking about what to write in his letter. He didn’t want to think about his letter until he was back home. It belonged in his room and nowhere else, not even in his daydreams at work.

One morning he woke in his room, the letter still incomplete, and he realised how little he had written, and he sat on his bed and stared at the wrinkled old paper as the soft shadows moved around his bedroom. He wondered why he had started writing it, and wondered if anything in there really mattered. All it had done was take what was inside him and start to soak it up, like a piece of blotting paper. Maybe when it was finally written, everything would be soaked up and he would be a clean surface, ready to start again. He wouldn’t know until it was finished.

Later that morning he was late arriving to work and had to park at the very top of the car park, on the roof, but he was still thinking about the letter. He drove slowly across the roof until his car was directly in the middle of all the deserted spaces, and he thought about how small and fragile the railing along the edge looked.

The sun was coming up over the water, and from the roof of the car park Michael could stare through his windscreen, through the railings, across the water, and feel like he was there. He should be there, not trapped here in his car, his small bedroom, his tiny little life on this strange little earth. Everything in between just melted into the pale winter sky.

He didn’t even think as he floored the accelerator, feeling the seat pressing into his back as he flew forwards, all the noise and movement gliding past him like he wasn’t there at all, and soon the ground was gone, the railing was gone, and he was flying. For the smallest moment there was only the sea and the sun, and he was weightless. All he felt was gentleness and floating, and he closed his eyes and fell.

Michael didn’t remember hitting the ground. All he knew was that he woke in a strange bed, in a room all by himself, with the curtains gently moving in front of the open window. When he looked over out of the window he saw flawless blue skies and endless fields. Everything was so quiet, everything was serene and beautiful, and he knew that the sky had been the doorway into his new world. There was nothing from his old life left, and he soon forgot everything that had happened before, and he fell asleep.

I want you to remember. All the little things you wouldn’t think twice about forgetting, I remember them all. I remember when we sat in your very first car, the day after you bought it. It was old and falling apart but you loved it because it was yours. We sat and we talked, and then we couldn’t get back into the house because of the awkward lock on the front door. When you asked me to try, I just pressed the doorbell, and your step-dad let us in, and we sat on your sofa and just talked until it got dark outside.

When he woke he saw Sarah sitting by his bed, smiling at him, and he said nothing. He smiled back at her and closed his eyes, listening to the breeze. He felt her holding his hand, and in that restful moment everything was perfect.

Before long there were voices, muffled at first but becoming louder, and suddenly there were others in his room. Michael opened his eyes, annoyed, but found that they would not open as readily as before. They were sluggish and heavy, and his vision was strange and blurred. He saw a large white room with people all around his bed, wires and tubes hanging across him, and then Joanna from work holding his hand next to him. “He’s coming out of it,” a voice said.

He saw some people leave, and felt Joanna’s hand leave his, and even though he had never wanted to be close to her before, suddenly now he wanted more than anything for her to come back and hold his hand again. He didn’t like this new place, and he let his eyelids close as the voices and noises vibrated and jarred through his ears and the bed moved and swayed as people bustled around him. He took a deep, slow breath and sank away, leaving it all behind, and when he opened his eyes again he was back in his tiny room and the sun was shining in through the window. He smiled and watched the curtains, and before he knew it Sarah came back in through the door and sat down and held his hand again. He smiled at her and she smiled at him.

When Michael lay back he saw that the roof had gone and all he could see was the sky, and he lay there and watched the cotton wisps of clouds floating past above him until it began to get dark. He felt Sarah leaving him but he just lay there and watched all the stars come out, feeling the cool night air drifting in and settling all around him.

When he woke there was a young woman’s voice asking if he could open his eyes, and when he did he saw the horrible white room again. Someone was peering at him, and then there was a bright light being shone into his eyes, so briefly he barely had time to blink, but it made his eyes ache and he closed them again. “Thank you,” said the voice, then she was gone. He felt himself drifting in and out of sleep, but whenever he opened his eyes he was still in the white room.

All the people from his old life slowly returned to his memory, all the places he had been and things he had done. He didn’t want to come back, there was nothing left for him in this world, but it was all coming back to him. All he wanted was to go into his room where he could watch the curtains and the clouds, but no matter how much he wanted to go there, he couldn’t.

He lay there, feeling helpless as all the pieces he didn’t want anymore settled back around him, and then all of a sudden he remembered the letter. Like the one missing piece that had just fallen into place, the one thing that was left here after all, he knew that he had to finish writing his letter before he could leave. It was waiting, and it was keeping him here.

He smiled as he remembered, and the muscles of his face were weak and reluctant to move, but he was happy because now he knew how he could get to go back.

He went to sleep, and instead of his special room, he dreamed of her.

Do you remember dancing in your car to Pharrell? You always loved him. I played you one of his tracks you hadn’t heard before. You were still learning to drive, and you tried to pull away with the handbrake on. Somehow, we ended up on the wrong side of the road, and you told me to stop making you nervous, even though I wasn’t doing anything. It was so long ago, but I still like to go back and think about tiny little things like that.

Michael finally came out of hospital after a month. They told him he had been in a coma for one week, but he knew it was more than just a coma. Every time he had slept after that one week, every time he had closed his eyes when things were quiet, he had seen glimpses of that world again, and he had felt how it could be to go back, but each time it was fainter and more fleeting, like a memory slowly drained of all feeling. He had wanted so badly to get back to his letter and finish it before that other world disappeared completely, but they wouldn’t let him out when he begged them, and by the time he got to go back home, that other place was gone.

He arrived back and stood in his bedroom, looking around at how empty it was. There wasn’t much left of him here, and now that he had lost his other place too he didn’t belong anywhere anymore. He felt a strange sickness inside, like he had to escape, but there was nowhere to go and he was trapped in the middle of an endless expanse.

He sat on his bed and opened the drawer in the cabinet next to him, and pulled out the letter. He read it and wondered why it had brought him all the way back here just to finish it.

When he went to work for the first time, everyone was there to greet him. A small group of all the people in his office, people who he had barely spoken to in all the years he had worked there, now full of smiles and relief, giving him cards and hugs. Michael didn’t know what to say to them. He felt overwhelmed, and the more concern and closeness that was shown to him, the further away he felt like he should be.

He saw his manager walk up to him with a card. “Welcome back, Mike,” he said, shaking his hand. Michael hated being called Mike, but he said nothing. “We were going to throw you a party,” he continued. “We 

thought you should take it easy for a while though. The party comes later!” He laughed and Michael smiled politely.

When everyone had welcomed him and the small crowd had dispersed, Michael saw Joanna smiling at him. She walked over and said, “It’s good to see you back, Michael.”

She gave him a quick hug, but he didn’t hug her back. He simply stood and looked over her shoulder, out of the window, and he remembered what it was like to leave behind all the people and the things he knew, all the comfort and the friends that had never really fit into in his world, and change it all into the quiet peace of his own.

Suddenly he hugged her tightly, just for a second, and said, “Thank you,” but he didn’t know if he was saying it to her or to Sarah from his little room.

Maybe you don’t remember those few times we could just walk together and talk about whatever we wanted, or the times when I’d watch you and you’d see me and smile. Maybe you never even knew how I’d wait for the look on your face when I gave you things, even if it was just a silly card. And maybe you never knew that all I could think was how lucky someone will be someday, someone who gets to see all those things all the time.

With each passing day work began to feel like more and more of a weight pushing him down, harder and harder, forcing him to stay here in a place where he had never belonged. Every day after work Michael went back home and sat looking at his letter, writing just a little bit more each time, until after a week he simply stopped. When nothing more came out of him he knew that it was finished, so he put his name at the end and folded the paper to fit into an envelope with Sarah’s name written on the outside.

That morning he drove past the car park and parked by the harbour, looking out over the sea, and he watched the sun coming up. He knew that being here was the closest he could be to reaching the other place. The sky had been his doorway to change the whole world around him, and now he had finished the one thing that had been left for him here. He opened the window and felt the air, just like when he was back in his room at night, holding the letter in his hand.

I don’t suppose it ever meant much to you, but it meant a lot to me, all those tiny disposable moments spent just being close to you. Knowing there was no-one else around, no-one who could see us. After my mom died you were the only one who made it all better. I never told you how much it meant, just to see you there, smiling, talking. I loved just talking to you. I loved listening to you. There were so many things I wanted to ask you and tell you, and I never did.

The breeze was cold on his skin, drifting in through the open window as gently as the waves were moving across the surface of the water. The sun’s piercing distance ached in his eyes as he sat and stared, and he barely heard the voice of the roughly-dressed workman asking him to please move his car. “Did you hear?” asked the voice. “We need you to move your car.”

Michael smiled, but he didn’t look away. “Sorry,” he said. “I’ll get out of your way.”

He pressed down gently on the accelerator, and the car moved away, slowly at first but faster and faster, and soon so fast that the view from the side windows blurred and all he saw was the endless scene in front of him. The shouting behind him and the roar of the tyres against the concrete faded into nothing. There was nothing at all between the sun and the ocean, only empty sky, and he could drive on and on forever and carry on, right between them, a bridge to make the world whole again, and no-one would ever have to be far away from anything ever again.

There was a moment when Michael felt his stomach rise, and the sky was swallowed up by water as the car hit it with an impact that seemed to happen in such slow motion it was almost restful, his head lurching back from the blow against the steering wheel and his vision melting softly into a dream. The freezing water rose sharply and took his breath, driving him further into the warmth deep inside him, until he was sleeping it all away.

That is why I’m never going to send this letter. Because it’s not fair to tell you all of this when it’s all my own. I was supposed to carry it. You never wanted any of it. I don’t want it anymore either, so I put it all down here, where neither of us will have to see it.

Michael didn’t see the envelope floating up and out of the window and away, fluttering and swaying in the currents underwater, the ink fading and dissolving all of his years like one big sentence into the sea. He was back in his special room, looking up at the perfect clouds from his warm bed, and he knew that one of them was his. He had a cloud, all to himself, and before he knew it, he was there. He was already miles above the room where he slept, now just a doll’s house from up here, and he watched it getting smaller and smaller from his cloud, sinking into its soft warmth, floating away and leaving behind the tiny little world so full of hurt.

It doesn’t matter that you’ll never know, now that you’ve left, now that you’re gone. Look how young you still are. More than anything in the world, I hope you find something you love doing, and spend your life doing it.

If you make friends and fall in love then you’ll be even happier. And I know you will, because everyone should fall in love with you.

Maybe somehow, I’ll see you again.

Lots of love



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