With the light of a new season, Arabella was consumed with the dark threat of being sent packing out of the country. For nine months she remained unemployed without the slightest incentive to find employment. She remained nestled in her fort of sorrow, carefully weaning all the hurt she could remember. When she thought she was able to rise again, she unlocked a distant memory of pain to, almost intentionally, burden herself enough to convince herself to stay in her hollow of solitude. Everyday, she battled to find a reason to keep misery from leaving her. The chance of his return had drastically diminished and his death in war became more of a possibility than she could bear. Where there had been hope, there was only confusion and doubt. It had been another three months since she last wrote to him, and all the faith she had then have been swept away with each passing day.
Mrs. Petal had returned from visiting family up north, but she had allowed the golden retriever to remain with Arabella, much to both their relief. Charlie and Arabella had come to visit her the day after she had returned, bearing an apple pie and a basket of wisterias she had bought from the flower market on their way. They found her by her garden tending to her newly planted flowers, bearing no trace of weariness or exhaustion from her stance. Her greying hair carefully pinned up in a tight bun only made her expression seem sterner than she probably cared for it to be. But the delight she could not hide in her eyes when she saw them coming assured Arabella of her approbation of their visit. Charlie remained by Arabella’s side, indifferent to the presence of his owner. “Keep him,” she shrugged keeping her eyes on Charlie. She tried to look nonchalant on the outside, attempted to feel displeased on the inside, but all she could muster to feel was relief. She was never fond of her late husband’s golden retriever, and as much as she wanted him to be a pleasant reminder of him, she only saw him as a painful memory that kept causing her to remember of what she once lost. Much to her surprise, however, Arabella found herself enjoying the company of Mrs. Petal. Apart from the days when hunger necessitated her to leave her fortress, the only time she had gone out was during her visits to Mrs. Petal. Her visits were short, and their conversations contained more silence than they did words, but neither party seemed to have mind. The oddity each felt for the other washed away by their desperate desire for silent companionship.
The morning she received the letter enquiring about her employment status in the country shook her out of her reverie. Her mind awoke with a sudden jolt demanding a series of commands, but her heart remained unmoving, unaffected, still searching for its missing piece. She sat on the steps of the house for most of that day, Charlie always at her side, as she stared blankly at nothing.
“We have two options, boy.” She softly spoke to Charlie gently rubbing his ears. “I stay the remaining three months I have here and try find us work, or I give up and leave now.” Charlie gave a low bark in reply, quietly placing his head on her lap. They stayed there until sundown, nestled in each other’s embrace, silently seeking for divine guidance.
That evening, she took hold of the pen on the patio that had remained there since she last wrote to him. She moved the cherry blossoms that lied idly on the table and began her third letter to him.
Spring has finally arrived. The season that’s said to be the period of new beginnings where newly sprouts of green are seen, flower blossoms bloom all week long and birds chirping on trees filled with green life. They describe the world as though it has magically transformed from a dire state of white cold to an enchanting beautiful land where grass grows into emeralds and the air surrounded with pink mystical flower dusts. They embrace change so easily with gentle arms I am confounded with the inconsistency we live in, for surely when winter began, they all rejoiced at the sight of delicately designed snowflakes gracefully falling from the sky. And how they joyed at the majestic beauty of it then.
A gush of night wind distracted her as Arabella tried to save the cherry blossoms from flying away. She took one in her hand, examining it as she twirled it with her fingers. “Permanence,” she whispered inaudibly to Charlie never leaving her eyes on the flower. With a sigh, she continued to write.
Permanence. A world without change. A world where there is only absolute certainty of what tomorrow brings. A world where no one has to bear the memory of loss and struggle. What would a world like that be like, dear Robert?
I am being evicted out of your home in three months if I remain to be as idle as I have become. I concur. I should be evicted. In fact, this may what I have been waiting for: a push. You are not coming back soon, if ever, and waiting for you will not change that. There is no future that awaits those who remain bounded by yesterday’s sorrow. Perhaps I have known that since the day you left only I refused to leave the only place that finally felt like home.
Charlie has been such a wonderful companion that I am most reluctant to leave him. But I cannot take him and strain him with the load I carry on my shoulders. He belongs here with the vast greenery of the fields and sea.
I haven’t an idea where I’ll go, but perhaps a good place to start is the beginning. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, but I stand with certainty knowing there is a missing piece that I need to find. Perhaps it is your absence I seek, and maybe I shall be forever in search. Yet I could hope for something that would slowly in time patch the threads of loss.
If perchance along my journey, destiny permits me to meet you, I hope when that day comes, we have both found forgiveness and serenity within ourselves so we may learn to forgive and understand the actions of those around us.
She placed the letter in the box above the other two she had written, taking a few petals of daffodils pressed beneath the letters and setting them above them. She closed the box steadily brushing against the inscribed characters that he roughly engraved with his pocketknife, fondly remembering the day she received it in the mail.
9,295 Miles Apart.