The lost letter

Since he retired from the University, Samuel wanders by old bookstores looking for some hidden treasure. He had been a Literature teacher for forty years in la Sorbonne and now was old and alone in his modest apartment in la Chapelle surrounded by dusty books and papers.

Sometimes his daughter called him to check how he was doing, but she rarely went to visit him.

He had been a strict and grumpy teacher, selfish and bad-humored, so he had no friends among his former students and colleagues. Even his wife, who had loved him till the end, needed to go away from home for a while periodically to rest his constant changes of mood and strange behavior.

He was frustrated because he wanted to be a writer, and the work with the students and the University didn’t let him time to think with calm and find good ideas for his novel.

And now that he has retired and is a widower, the ideas refuse to come to his head. Nobody was taking care of him, so he had the looks of a beggar.

Once, he entered an old bookstore and found an old copy of “A Tale of Two Cities” beautifully leather-bound. He opened the book, and a paper fell to the ground. He picked it up and recognized his wife Marie’s handwriting. Stunned, pocketed the paper and went to the counter to buy the book.

His hands trembled a little when he took the note from his pocket outside the store while sitting on a bench.

“Dear Samuel, I’m in Claire’s house. You know that sometimes I need some space because living with you it’s not easy. These days, I read this book and found some interesting quotes that made me look at my life with you entirely differently. I had in front of me a frustrated man with a bad temper, and I wasn’t looking at a sensitive artist looking for a way to express the beauty that was constantly interrupted for the need to support his family. You could easily renounce teaching and devote to write, but we: I and our children, had to live and eat. We needed the security of your job. And you renounced to your dreams for us.”

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other,” says Dickens. Even when that creatures are so close to each other as you and I., I’m coming back home, and I won’t leave you anymore. We will fight this battle together. I’ll help you find the time to express your art, and we will prevail until we could say, “You have been the last dream of my soul.”

Samuel didn’t know how much time he stayed on that bench with the note in his hand.

Why was he reading it fifteen years after her death? Marie never came back from Claire’s home. She stayed with her friend for weeks; he thought she was considering filing a divorce, and then a hit-and-run car accident took her life.

He was so devastated at the time of her tragic death that he only took her wedding ring from her personal effects and left Claire to deal with everything else.

Marie had been the love of his life, and he was a constant source of pain for her. He recalled another quote: “a man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” Samuel had become very old since Marie’s death. But her letter changed everything. He thought all those years that she had died hating him. Now his dreams began to awake knowing that she had loved him till the end.

FFFC: 111

4 thoughts on “The lost letter

  1. Gandango says:

    Finding out a truth about someone fifteen years after their passing can be truly life alternative. This post was a well-written, excellent response to the photo prompt. Thank you.

  2. Dave Williams says:

    A startling find… of all the bookstores in Paris and of all the books in the store, he chose that one. I really enjoyed the wondrous confluence of Samuel finding his wife’s letter. And for it to be therapeutic for him. Lovely.


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