To read the hand written letter click Jude Letter 6.
Monday 2 April, 2012
I’m sorry that it’s been a little while before you heard from me again. I’ve sequestered myself away to find a bit of solitude from the storms going on around me.
Dad had a second minor stroke last week and my sister Helena has extended her stay to help out Mum. I think Mum’s taking it quite hard because it’s a situation she has no control over. Like when she forbade me from seeing you; it was her way of keeping control, knowing what was going on. She didn’t mean it to be restrictive, it was just her way.
And like Mum, we all feel completely useless. Dad will be in hospital for a bit longer yet and then it may be a nursing home or something for rehab. He’s taking it okay, but I can see he’s frustrated, having lost more control of his body. You want to help and make things better but he’s become like a child again. We have to feed him, help him drink and wipe up the mess that spills from the side of his mouth.
One afternoon I broke down in front of him, crying as I held a spoonful of jelly and custard. Dad reached over with his good hand and managed to ruffle my hair like he used to when I was a kid. A simple gesture that communicated his love and affection, and it felt like the passing of a mantle. I don’t want him to die. Not yet.
I can’t put myself in your place and understand what it would be like to lose your mother.
And why didn’t you mother want your father to know about you? That’s such a mystery. Are you going to try and found out anything else?
Anyway, sorry for jumping from point to point. By the way, Dad says he’ll stick with Pet Sounds if that’s alright with you. The guys from the surf club have made him a mixed CD of his favourite Beach Boys’ songs. It’s funny seeing a bunch of white-haired, leathery skinned old men talking about CDs and technology. Reminds me of us. They seem like little boys again, standing around their injured mate and wondering if he’ll be able to come out and play some time soon.
The surf club blokes are Dad’s closest friends. They share a connection, bonded by their desire to help others and it makes them awkward hanging out in the hospital because they cannot do anything.
I’ve dragged out the questions from your last letter, so let’s see how I go about answering them.
Who’s who in the zoo? It’s probably easier to say who went rather than who stayed. Johnno and Mitch headed out west the year after we left school. Mandy went with them but came back 2 years later by herself and a 6 month old baby girl in tow. Beth married Adrian and are still in town. Adrian and I catch up over a beer every now and again.
Alice Lester and Jimmy Wilson. It was on-again/off again for years. They married, had 2 kids, divorced, remarried each other and kept reproducing. Their youngest is just about to start at Rebecca’s preschool.
Mr Murdoch retired 3 years ago. The school put on a huge farewell dinner and the hall was packed with people from almost every year. I wonder how many kids he taught throughout his career.
And the haunted house. It’s a haunted location – it’s a bottle shop. The spirits still roam. (Worst joke ever!)
Will I see you again?
I don’t know. At the very least, not yet.
There are two reasons. The first is the past and the second is the present.
Since your last letter and the further revelation about that night at your Nan’s, I’ve doubted and questioned myself.
If we had spent the night together, as many of my dreams imagined, would it have kept us together? Would that one event, one moment, have kept you from leaving?
When you left Piper’s Reach I thought you were gone forever. Your presence and your memory have never faded. Each trip around town reminds me of the places we went and the time we shared together.
When we came back from your Nan’s we slipped back into the routines of school, excepted I busted my knee skateboarding and you were in the school musical. On stage you came alive, relishing the chance to put on someone else’s character and play the part.
Watching you from the audience made me want you more but I was scared. Scared of you in some way – the vibrancy and bravado you exuded were foreign character traits to me. But I wanted to feel the rush of you running through me but I didn’t know how.
That’s why the Year 12 formal was the perfect storm. That night I wanted you to be a part of me and to share in you. Until Paul hurled down my back.
Since you started writing to me, I’ve replayed the events of our time together and questioned myself. If we had gone through with it, would it have kept you here? I feel guilty when I think about the loss and heartache you have suffered, with no one to be there for you.
Then I second guess myself and think that even if it had happened, you would still have left. I feel like I have betrayed or abandoned you – you said I was the only place you felt safe, where you belonged, and yet I was not there for you when you needed it most.
I’ve been picking at a scab that has healed. The new pink skin the reminder of the hurt that was but is no more. But now fresh blood is trickling to the surface.
After you left Piper’s Reach I was a lost soul for a long time. I immersed myself in study, travelled the coast and hooked up with a few girls along the way. It was fun and carefree, and I still get aroused when I see a woman in a wetsuit. But it wasn’t until I returned to Piper’s Reach that I felt grounded and at peace again. You were still around me in spirit.
When Rebecca came along it gave me further reason to feel grounded. We married and I became content, satisfied, my roots delving deeper into the town.
And that’s the second reason why I cannot see you yet. I haven’t told Rebecca about our past. She only knows we were good friends in high school. Mum and Dad make mention of you from time to time, but only in passing conversation.
I don’t think she would feel threatened by you, or of our past together. She knows I have written to you, but not how often. I don’t know why I haven’t told Rebecca; probably because this is private and personal intimate.
I want to see you again, to catch up and find out about your mother and father but I cannot do it at this moment. My father is ill, and in all fairness, Rebecca does not know.
Truly I am sorry if I have let you down, or ever made you feel like you were abandoned or betrayed.
Could I have ever held you and kept you to this place? One day in the holidays, just before you left, you came over for the day. We lounged about watching tv in the morning before deciding to head out to the beach. It was you and I in the surf, having fun and being together. In the afternoon the weather closed in, putting a chill in the air.
We hurried back to my place before the storm hit and found no one home. As we stood in the kitchen getting drinks, I watched you from the corner of my eye, taking in the form of your body through your swimmers. As you downed a glass of cordial I looked at the raised hills of your nipples poking through your cossie. I wanted to kiss them, almost greedily devour them but I looked away as you returned your glass to the bench.
With a quick flick of your hair you announced you were off to take a shower to rinse the salt off you your skin and out of your hair.
From the kitchen I heard the pipes shudder and clang as the hot water kicked in. From where I was I imagined you undressing, naked under the water as you washed the salt away. Meanwhile in the kitchen, the salt formed a hardened crust on my skin and leeched further into my blood. And outside the rain began to fall.
I am sorry. With all my heart I am sorry. If I am at fault, I truly apologise.
Please, there will be a time to come and see you. I want to help you, like I did all those years ago, to help you with your past and your present. And again I ask for forgiveness if you have felt abandoned or betrayed.
Always and ever,