This is a story I did a couple of weeks back for The JR Show. I’m just reblogging it here.
THE FINAL LETTER.
My Dearest Wife,
I am cold. The fire burns bright and hot in the hearth barely ten feet from where I sit, yet inside I feel a cold hand touching me, enfolding me in dark embrace.
I am dying.
If you are reading this then it means I am already dead. Do not be sad. Do not mourn for me. Take care of the children. They are all I can think about, aside from you. When they ask you, tell them that I have gone away. I do not think their little hearts can bear the truth, especially Molly. I cannot bear the thought of what this would do to her. Please, take care of the children.
Dearest wife, from the first day I saw you, Never once have I betrayed your trust, never have I left your side or desired another since I met you. I love you.
But I do not deserve you.
It pains me that I have to tell you this in this way, but I feel I do not have much time on this earth. Wife, I have kept a secret from you for all this while. I told myself every day that one day I would have the courage to tell you…
When I was sixteen, I met a girl. She was a pretty thing, short and cute. The minute I saw her I knew that I desired her. How was I to know that that smiling young woman would be the death of me?
Her name was Tracy. Her parents owned the mill in the center of our little farming town. They were the richest family for miles around; her father drove a fancy motor car, her mother was a respectable lady of influence. She was their only child, and they doted on her.
I was not born to a postman and a seamstress, as I have repeatedly told you in the past. I lied to you. Forgive me. My father was a farmer who raised two strapping boys, of whom I was first. My mother was a housewife, plain of face and strong of spirit. My earliest memories are of toiling on the farm with my father by day and reading the bible by candlelight beside my mother at night. We were far from wealthy, but my parents taught us to be content in the Lord.
And then I met Tracy.
My brother and I were walking down the street when we saw her, walking in the opposite direction with two of her friends. I had never seen her in town before, and I said so to my brother. Younger though he was, he was better with the ladies than I had ever been. Without a second thought, he walked right up to them and introduced himself. I suspect he fancied one of the other ladies. I only had eyes for the one who introduced herself as Tracy.
I asked her out not long after that day.
My love for Tracy grew fast and so did her love for me. We were always together, much to the displeasure of her father. Her mother did not mind though, and treated me with warmth whenever I came to visit.
One night, in my father’s field beneath a starry sky, Tracy gave herself to me for the first time. She screamed once as I tore through her maidenhead, and then again as I spent my seed deep inside her. Afterward, we lay side by side on the soft grass as the stars kept their everlasting vigil over us.
Four months later we discovered that she was with child.
I am not proud of what I did then. I was young and scared. We did not have the money to raise a child on our own, and we were afraid of what her father would do to us if he found out.
We decided to get rid of the child.
We found a shady street doctor and I managed to steal enough money to pay for the operation. He warned us beforehand that the operation was risky. But we were desperate. On that day, I waited behind the door with my heart in my chest while he performed the dangerous procedure.
You can only imagine how I felt when the doctor emerged an hour later to tell me that Tracy – my Tracy – was dead. I tried to push past him to go see her but he prevented me. He told me that he had already sent someone to inform both our parents. My blood ran cold. All I could think of was what her father would do to me…the dishonor I had brought upon my family. My poor mother; it would break her heart. And Tracy’s father would surely kill me. And so I did something that has haunted me since.
I turned and ran. I shamed myself and my family and ran.
I ran, not only from the doctor but from the town. I ran through the fields with only the clothes on my back and stowed away on a train going south. That is how I came to live here in our small town. Here I struggled for years and finally made a respectable man of myself. Here I met you, dearest wife. And here I finally managed to bury my past, and with it all thoughts of Tracy.
That is, until I met her exactly one week ago.
At first I was convinced that I had seen a ghost: the years had changed her but I recognized her at once. And she recognized me too. After all those years, Tracy still remembered me. It was after I had gotten over the initial shock of seeing her that I learned her story:
Tracy never died at the hands of that doctor: the man lied to me. When we went to him first with our predicament, he went behind us and told the entire thing to Tracy’s parents. Together, they formulated a plan. The plan was to make me believe that she died and hence force me out of the town and out of their daughter’s life forever. And it worked.
But she never forgot about me, she said. And against her parent’s wishes, she kept our baby. She gave birth to my daughter.
Surely I could not help but desire to see our daughter. When I asked her this, she told me to meet her at the local hotel in a week’s time.
Today I came here with equal parts excitement and foreboding. For even though Tracy was my first love, how could I bring another child home to you? But I had to see our daughter.
I arrived to meet a lavishly laid table, but no sign of my daughter. When I asked Tracy, she told me that the girl was on the way and she wanted to have dinner with me first. I thought nothing of it, and sat down to eat.
It was midway through the meal that I began to realize that something was amiss. My arms refused to move, and my head swam. I vomited profusely all over myself. I looked at Tracy with an unspoken question in my eye, but in her eyes all I saw was hate. She told me then what she had done: Tracy – my Tracy – had poisoned me.
And then, before she walked out and left me to die alone, she told me the truth.
On the day that I fled my old life, Tracy suffered as well. Her father absolutely refused to allow the illegitimate child of a poor farmer boy to grow inside his daughter. He forced the doctor to abort the baby. But the action was not without its consequences; when the doctor destroyed my baby inside her, he also destroyed her ability to give birth ever again.
And as the years went by, Tracy became the black sheep of the town. A laughing stock. No man would marry a barren woman. Her life became miserable. And deep inside her, Tracy blamed me.
So she sought me out, and made me pay.
And now I am dying, hunted down by my past sins I ran so desperately from.
I write these words to you in my own blood; I could not find any ink. But I feel you must know this final thing.
They shall probably find my body in the morning. Do not cry for me, Dearest Wife. In the shed behind our house, beneath the floorboards, you shall find a sum of money. It should be enough for you and the children. I am sorry that I could not leave you with more. Forgive me. I pray to God that you shall find it in your heart to forgive me for all my sins. I love you. I always have and I always will, now and evermore.
I am so very cold….