Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Letters to Irene by Isaac Yu


January 14, 2013
To Irene Bennet

I don't know why I'm doing this.
I don't even know if you'll reply to this.
Are you there Irene?

I know we've had our differences but we can't keep ignoring each other like this. I know you're too stubborn to say it so I'll say it to you first.
I miss you.

I miss how whenever I'd wake up, even if it was at the crack of dawn, the first thing I'd do is kiss you on the forehead and even if you were still asleep you'd smile as if to tell me that even while dreaming you knew how much I love you. I miss how after a long day at work when I'm tired and frustrated, the way you'd smile at me would make everything seem alright. I miss how when it'd rain we'd draw the curtains shut and just pretend it was just the two of us in our own little world.

Remember our first 'date' when you told me you needed my help on your essay and how we spent the entire day in the library together. God we were such kids then, how many years has that been now? And when I showed up all sweaty and tired you just led me over to where your favourite books were and we spent hours discussing them. The librarian definitely wasn't a fan of us that day. I still think Pullman is better than C. S. Lewis but I know you'll never budge on that one. And before we knew it the library was closing and you'd completely forgotten all about the essay you'd brought me over to help you with. That walk home all I wanted to do was to hold your hand and fit my fingers in the little spaces between yours. But I didn't have the courage and I didn't know what you saw in me, all skinny and gawky with his tongue tied in knots.

But somehow it worked. There weren’t any big dramatic moments. As much as I daydreamed about doing some big gesture like holding a boom box above my head and proclaiming my love, there wasn't any need. It all just fell together subtle and slow, the way the tides would wear down on a cliff. Before we knew it we were spending more time together and it felt just so natural that it was like we'd been stumbling around in the dark waiting for each other all along. God when I think back to those moments it all seems so surreal now. Something out of A Midsummer Night's Dream, some inexorable force gently nudging the two of us together. Is it fate?

I miss you Irene.
I miss hearing the way you'd laugh at one of my dumb jokes. I miss the way you'd start singing for no apparent reason and no matter how many times I've heard it, every time I'd be in a daze. The way you'd transform a few symbols on a page into something so beautiful and transport me away into a different world. You could be humming some teeny bopper pop song and to me it would sound like Beethoven's fifth was being performed in front of me. Every time I hear one of those silly pop songs I'd tease you about I hear your voice singing them and I want nothing more than to hear that again.

I'm sorry about what I've done. Believe me no one is more sorry about it than me. But please can we talk it out, can we try to make things right because I miss you now more than ever.
Your lovable goof,
Peter Stockman.

January 17, 2013
To Irene Bennet

Are you there Irene?
I know you must be there and I know you don't want to talk to me but please hear me out.
I'm sorry Irene, I'm so sorry about so many different things and I want nothing more than to take it all back and start all over again.

Remember our first big fight? It was over something so stupid and so silly and yet we made such a big deal of it because neither of us was willing to stand down and admit we were wrong. You were worried about what would happen when we moved away for university. You were scared and frightened and so worried about what would happen that you lashed out. I was half scared to death that it would be the end but it wasn't. We got over our pride and forgave each other. It was a hard thing to do but we did it anyway because I couldn't bear to imagine what my life would be like without you.

Am I crazy for doing this? Maybe my friends are right and I should just give up the ghost. You obviously don't want to listen to me so why should I waste my time. It's not hurtful words or raised voices, instead with you it's just silence. Just the ambiguity of a blank page so that I can fill in the blanks and dread what I've imagined. A simple response would be enough. Just to let me know that it's over and that you don't want to work it out. I could understand that much at least.

Maybe I'm the one trying to make amends because what we had matters more to me than it does to you. Maybe none of this was really real and it was just me projecting what I wanted onto what happened. Was that it? Did I simply create the significance of it all in my head and to you this was nothing more than just another relationship and that at the end you just pack up and leave without so much as a goodbye?

Is this another rendition of the scorpion and the frog. Did I overlook your nature and this now is my just rewards for doing so? Perhaps my friends are right. What we once had is long gone and we've both changed too much for it to continue. I thought that in the same way that you made me want to better myself I would have that same effect but I guess not. It was always going to end this way wasn't it? I was just your social proof that you could transform a frog into a prince. I was just your project, your pet. You never considered how I might feel or what I might have wanted because the whole time you just wanted to show me off to your friends and your family.

I guess now that I'm no longer able to fit that role you've swapped out for a better model. Someone smarter or better looking or more accomplished. Some trophy to wave around and I'm nothing more than a stepping stone on your own path. Is this your way of testing me? Am I nothing more than a rat in a cage to be poked and prodded and made to run through a maze for your own devices? I understand what my friends are telling me now, this is for the best.
I guess I have my response then if this is how you choose to word it.

Regards,
Peter Stockman

January 24, 2013
To Irene Bennet

Are you there Irene?
I don't even know what I'm doing anymore.
I tell myself that I am over you, that I am through and out and that this very instant I am going to forget you and move on.
I tell myself that enough is enough and that any day now I'm going to find someone new and do all the things I never had a chance to do with you.
But then before I know it I'm staring at the living room where you used to sit and I'm sitting down at the base of the bed where we used to sleep and I can't. I hear a snippet of some stupid teeny bopper song and all I can think of is how you used to sing it. I walk over to the fridge and one of your silly notes is still there, stuck to the wall and not budging an inch. On the shelves where our books are I see yours standing out so brightly against mine. Sense and Sensibility next to The Things They Carried, The Magician's Nephew next to the Amber Spyglass and The Year of Living Biblically flanked on either side by Snuff and Fight Club. Little flashes of colour in my black and white domain.

What was it Queen Elizabeth said on her deathbed? "All my possessions for a moment of time?" and that's not even the half of it. That's the sad thing about time: we never truly realize how little of it we have but at the same time we can't realize how little we have or we'd never do anything with it. We'd be so paralysed with fear that what we have is so fleeting that it'd pass us by and before we know it we would have made the same mistakes as if we didn't know. Without knowing we squander time because if we knew it nothing would happen.

There are so many mementos we have of our life together and I wish there was some way for me to trade them all so I could have one moment with you to make it all right again. Irene we both work jobs we hate because what we have, or what we used to have made it all worthwhile. Let's just walk away from it all then, the two of us like we always said. Nothing is tying us down other than our jobs and the people here. Nothing is stopping us from just packing up and heading off, I don't know where and I don't really care. The stress from our jobs drove us apart so let's go somewhere new so we can find each other again.

I'm sorry I made my job my priority, I'm sorry I took you for granted. I was so caught up in trying to earn something I didn't want, that I lost the one person that I needed most. When I think about all those late nights at the office when I could have been spending time with you I wish I could take it all back. Give me a chance Irene and I know I can make everything better because I'm a different man now than what I used to be. I know now what is so important in life and what it is that makes me want to wake up each morning and hate falling asleep each night.

I want to work this out because I don't want to later look back and regret not acting.
I'm sorry Irene
I'm sorry.

Peter Stockman

January 30, 2013
To Irene Bennet

Are you there Irene?

I found something today in my room. It was in inside pocket of that charcoal suit jacket I only wore out of work. I knew how much you liked the fact that I'd gotten this suit just for you, not for my boss or to look good for the clients. Just for you to enjoy. I spent so long trying to decide which tie to go with it that I didn't notice what was inside the pocket until I stepped outside.

It was my mother's ring. She gave it to me when I graduated university and whispered to me that I'd know when the right girl would come along. She didn't say it but I knew she meant you. I thought we'd grown too far apart by this point but a few months later I bumped into you and it was like we picked off from where we'd left it. That silly big stupid fight was all forgotten and gone and for once we were both free to do what we wanted. I knew from the moment I bumped into you again that you would be the one the ring was for.

But it never happened did it.
Are you there Irene, somewhere in the dark and sunless country? Are you there Irene in the silence between the stars? Are you there Irene someplace where I can't go? Are you there? Am I supposed to try to forget you now that you're gone? Can I even forget you Irene? Is it possible for me to forget your smile or the sound of your voice? If all that is left of you are your memories can I forget you or will I just be erasing the last remnants of your time here? Are you there Irene? Are you there... are you there... are you there Irene?

In the absence of heaven and hell and in a sky full bright with nothing in it are you there? On a quiet hill overlooking a meadow in a neat pine box are you there? In all the little things you left behind are you there? Are you there Irene in the missing spaces between my fingers? Are you there in the pauses between notes? Are you there Irene, somewhere, anywhere, are you there?

Because I don't know what I'm going to do without you. I don't want to go anywhere without you. I wish I could take it all back, I wish I could have traded places because it should have been me. I was the one responsible; I'm the reason why I'm here and you're not. Not the driver or the EMT or the doctors, me. You weren't the one who turned the corner without waiting. You're not the one who didn't swerve away from the driver. It's me, all me and I don't know how I can forgive myself.

I'm so sorry Irene. It's all my fault.
I'm sorry.

Peter Stockman

February 14, 2013
To Irene Bennet

Are you there Irene?

I went by to visit you today for the first time.
I even wore that pink tie you made me wear for prom.
I didn't know if I was supposed to say anything or not but it was nice being there.

Your parents came by to see me the other week. They were worried about me. Neither of us really knew what to say. So much of it would have been unnecessary. I knew I could never tell them how sorry I was for their loss and I guess they knew as well. And so we stood there in the hallway, too shocked to really say anything. Ever since the funeral I hadn't seen much of your family. It was much too painful to see the resemblance.

But bit by bit we all knew why we were here and so I invited them inside. They didn't stay long but they wanted to see the little world we'd built together. It must have been so hard for your parents to come up here out of the blue but they didn't let it show. They just kept telling me all these little stories of the things you used to do when you were younger. I couldn't get over how you used to play field hockey as a kid. It didn't really hit me until they left and I went to put away one of your books that they were looking at.

There was a little note addressed to me telling me how much you were looking forward to our vacation. I had our plane tickets in one pocket and your ring in the other that night. I wanted to walk through the gardens on our way back like we always did and when we came across our park bench I'd kneel down in front of you and propose. No fireworks or big surprise. No ring in the champagne flute or hot air balloon ride out of the blue. Just me asking the most important question of my life: Will you, Irene Caroline Bennet, make me the saddest man in the world. The world replied in your absence.

I had the jeweller put your ring on a chain. It's no longer mine to give and I couldn't bear to be away from it. Before they left your parents told me to be happy because it is what you would have wanted. I know that now Irene.
Wherever you are Irene,
I hope you're doing well.

Always yours,
Peter Stockman.



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