So it begins.
Another day, another new week. Another beginning over. The old banished and the new begun like a resolution repeatedly broken then remade, even rephrased, so that it's more suited to my present mood which might suddenly change from stinging words and sulky states to benevolent smiles.
Oh, John. Is this my life from now on?
Ever-watchful, ever-wondering. Why could I not...? Why did I not...? As another week disappears and all, no matter what occurs, remains unchanged in spite of my fluctuations of temper.
At least dear, I can write to you. You, who I think understands me, possibly even more than I do myself. You, who allows me to pour out my uncensored thoughts and grievances and does not console nor rebuke. You, who answers with honesty. What did I ever do to deserve your steadfast friendship?
I wish I'd looked after it better.
Have I lost it forever?
Don't desert me now, dearest, let me write even if you cannot or choose not to acknowledge my letters henceforth. This silence of yours pains me, with the distance between us with you in Florence strengthening your resolve and this enforced separation, but return my letters unread and it will be as if you're taken a dagger to my heart. Read and peace will rest upon my soul.
Since you took your leave I wonder what sights your eyes have seen and are at present seeing, and how I could have been sharing these with you if I'd had the courage to defy propriety. But I couldn't – you must see that? My mother wouldn't have stood for that, nor yours for that matter.
I wish to know so many things of your life there...and if you plan to stay and how long for...Am I never to set eyes on you, be in the same room with you again? Is this to be our only connexion? No, I made a promise never to mention it and I must not go back on my word, though my days are not the same without you in them. And never shall be again.
Speak of happier tidings, that's what you said in our last but one conversation before the bitter recriminations between our families. How can I? When that was said in a very different context to where we stand now.
Are you well? Does your life seem full whilst mine is empty? Oh, I do not wish any remembrance of me to be burdensome. Forget me! Write and tell me you have done so and I will stop. For until then I will carry you with me and try to store up news to amuse rather than continue these pleads. Know, however, I will never consider another as long as there's breath in my body, but you should be free.
So it begins.
You are free and I am not. Live for me and I will live through my memories and imaginings. That's all I ask. And only if it's your dearest wish should you help to furnish these. If you cannot forget, can you forgive, and do this for me? One letter from you would settle this affair and ease my suffering.
Write care of my maiden aunt, my mother's sister whom you met in Brighton, as she, and only she, sympathises with our ill-starred attachment. And only she will be complicit in this secrecy.
Picture credit: Woman in Yellow, AKA A Lady Writing, c.1668, Johannes Vermeer