Francesca couldn’t decide whether or not to actually deliver the letter.
After that fateful night, it had taken several hours of deliberation before picking up pen and paper in the first place, followed by three agonisingly slow redrafts until the words seemed more or less right. This in itself was a big part of the problem. Francesca knew what she was trying to say, and had thought carefully about each word, every comma and even whether or not an exclamation mark at the end of the second paragraph might appear flippant, given the harshness of its content. Well aware that what one intends to say might be misconstrued by the reader, Francesca did wonder briefly about confiding in her sister Alice and asking her to read through her words and give an opinion. Almost as soon as this thought entered her head, it was dismissed. This matter had to remain just between herself and Fillip.
As the evening sunlight pointed its long, accusing finger across the crisp white pages, Francesca took her time before finally signing ‘Franki’ with a flourish. Gazing out of the open study window to where the children were still playing boisterous games in the lingering warmth of a perfect day, Francesca couldn’t help but wonder what they would all say when they heard of her decision. All that preparation and paraphenalia: the pure white lillies and gypsophilia soon to be delivered; designs for decorating the marquee carefully drawn and pinned to the kitchen noticeboard; the cream silk gown hand sewn with miniscule seed pearls hanging safely in her mother’s wardrobe; fifty order of service sheets printed on handmade embossed card, neatly stacked on the sideboard …
Concerned in case she weaken, Francesca made a concerted effort to push all such thoughts to the back of her mind. With the blue fountain pen slightly shaking in her grip, Francesca neatly added a small cross close to her name, then carefully folded both sheets of bond and slid them into the envelope. Fillip’s address was already scribbled on the jotter pad, so the rest of the task took seconds.
Her auburn head remained bowed deep in thought for almost half an hour. Francesca stared intently at the letter, gently turning it over and over in her hands as if trying to make the contents transparent. Not that they need be – every painstakingly chosen word and carefully constructed sentence ran through her mind like a never ending commentary. How had it come to this?
Soon it became clear that there was only one thing to do. Swiftly ripping the letter into tiny shreds, Francesca added the pale confetti to her already overflowing ash tray. The match was struck hastily and the pyre set alight before her tears should dowse the flame. It must remain unsaid, although somehow her soul felt better for having said it anyway.
Copyright Debbie Rainer 2015