The paper was crinkled, with creases from corner to corner and the pages spattered with tiny round stains like something had splashed down on it; possibly rain thought Tommy although there had been none for a month. He had found it one morning a few weeks after his Dad’s project started. His Dad had fallen asleep on the couch again, something which no longer alarmed Tommy, another new routine his father had adopted. As Tommy was about to wake up his father that morning with a freshly brewed cup of tea (strong enough to dance on, just as he liked it) he spotted the letter, resting on his father’s chest, rising and falling in time with his breathing. It looked like paper waves the way it moved while his father slept and one of the waves broke off from the others and fell to Tommy’s feet. Even before he had picked it up, he recognized his Mum’s handwriting immediately; the way the letters held hands and how they swooped across the page in a black so dark that looked like it was written in oil. Quickly, without pausing to think whether or not he should be doing it, he scooped up the other pieces of paper and hurried up to his room, leaving his Dad to sleep and the tea to run cold.
He practically bounced on his bed, so eager to read what was written on the pages – a feeling usually reserved for a trip to Hogwarts with Harry or Middle-Earth with The Fellowship, he didn’t stopped to shut his door or get his usual reading snack. It took him a few moments to piece together the order of the pages (a puzzle that only made his excitement reach a fever pitch) and began to read:
“ My Matt,
I’m writing this while you lie next to me, snoring up a storm and no doubt waking up the entire street. You once told me that your dog BB stopped sleeping at the bottom of your bed when you were a teenager and always wondered why. Well I think we have the answer. Mystery solved Scoob! My last gift to you is one of your greatest mysteries solved.
I write this while I still can, while I have the energy and the will to do so, but also the words. We sat on the porch earlier and looked to the stars and it felt like everything was fine. I knew then that this my last good night and the final leg of the journey was upon us. Our final chapter together.
I know this is going to break you. And this I fear more than the curtain call, because I want you to live. I don’t want this to be your final chapter, I don’t want this to be your full stop, I want this to be an end of something so you can start something new. Something good, something better for you and for our Tommy (a boy of 10, how quick they grow when you take their eyes off them) I want you to be happy and I want you to stay alive. I want you to pick yourself up, and keep going. You’re living for two now. (I’d like to make a note here that, this isn’t to say move on quickly. I’m not giving permission to go hook up with Maggie from across the street at my funeral. I can and will haunt you. I hope you heed this. One slip up and you’ll be getting messages in your cereal, understand? Good now I can continue.)
You gave me the life I never thought I could have. One that I thought only ever existed in fairy tales. I was never a princess, but you made me one. I never had happy memories, but you made me some. I liked to think that if people ever questioned our pairing, if people ever thought “What does she see in him?” I had the perfect answer. I saw a better me. And I hope you did the same. The house we live is the one I always dreamed of. You were a dream-maker, and you were my dream-maker. Make the house the one I tried to make it and make your life the one we planned together.
If ever you feel alone, or if ever you feel lost, if you ever feel that I am no longer there. I want you to look up. Because I’ll be there, up there somewhere looking down and smiling.
I love you and I’ll see you in the stars.
All My Loving
Tommy read the letter three more times and at the last reading, he discovered what the stains were, as he added rain to the pages himself. Reading that letter he knew what his father was doing and the madness made his own heart break all over again.