She hated her handwriting. The letters collided with one another in an awkward script that was neither cursive nor print, but she supposed it would have to do; the words had needed to be written. Her chest ached a little as she read them over, again and again. The realization they spelled out was one she’d left buried beneath so many years and too much distance, but it burned now with a decade’s stored energy of denial, and filled her with an ineffable longing that welcomed detached numbness’ slow tide.
Each word was chosen with care, written as though she spoke to him, but intended for herself. He would never read it, of course – no one would. She could claim she wanted to avoid disrupting his life with unpleasant memories or complicated emotions, but the truth was she feared what he would say in the astronomically unlikely event of his response; even no response was better than knowing he felt the same. At least in ignorance she could hide in the warm glow of what was without any distress over what still could be.
The box was prepared, simple, but durable, with a sturdy clasp at the front just big enough for an equally sturdy lock. She couldn’t bring herself to burn the words she’d taken such pains to find, but there were no other eyes qualified to read them, so the only logical conclusion she could reach was to lock them away and bury their prison. It wasn’t so different from what she’d done with the emotions before they brought the words, but now the words were out and it was no longer in her own heart they’d be trapped. That was enough, that was all she needed to carry on. It had to be.
She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly with the gravity of her secret. As soon as it was locked away, she could allow herself to forget, and by forgetting perhaps even heal. For the last time, she read the inelegant script of her own hand, and poured her aching heart into each word.
“I don’t know why, but I thought of you. And I don’t know what difference it would have made at the time to have understood my own feelings when we were still oceans apart . . . but it’s clear today that what I felt was love.
“You disappeared, and that was fair given I did the same, and I still don’t know if it was something I said, or something you decided on your own, but if there ever comes a day in some distant future where you look back and smile and wonder where I’ve gone, you know where to find me. My door is always open.
“I could spend the rest of my life waiting for you, but that wouldn’t be fair to anyone. So, instead I wish you well. I wish you happiness and love, and the greatest possible future life has to offer. I wish you laughter and smiles and the fulfillment of all your heart’s desires. I’ll look back on our time with a smile and not regret what never was or never will be.
“I know now it was love, but I suppose all things have their end.”
Signed with a quote and nothing more, addressed to no one with no date, the anonymous confession was delicately folded and placed inside the simple, but durable, box, through which sturdy clasp was latched an equally sturdy lock, all of which was gently nestled in the moist earth of a hole freshly dug. She knew the tree beneath which her words would always sleep, and offered it her thanks for the silent watch it would keep as the knot around her heart finally loosed its grip.
As each shovelful of dark soil fell upon the growing mound of her last regret, the missive’s final words echoed through her mind, an unfinished mantra and invitation to a future that would never be.
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall bid you good night . . . .