The Letter

3127 Calle Lanza


21 December 2017

Dear Daniel,

Outside snow floats like angel wings from the heavens, covering the tessellated rooftops of Venice with a feathery mantle. Genesis’ “And Then There Were Three” plays softly in the background and the music transports me back to one of the most magical Christmases of my life. Nearly forty years ago. I wonder if you still remember? 

You once said that you could navigate all the triangulation points in your life from 1978 to 1999 through the music you had discovered and made your own. I hope that the playlist I’m making now might help me to do the same. 

Since Dr Whittington delivered the news my daughter, Jessica, has been inconsolable. She wept on the flight all the way home to Venice.

I know you will never read this letter, as I shall never send it. I am frightened, Daniel. How I long to hear you say, 'Everything’s going to be alright, Claire. Trust me.'

The music ends. Now, only the metronomic click of the clock in the hallway punctuates the silence. Fragmenting time. 

Like you, I have tried to bury the past. To lock it away, unseen and undisturbed deep in a vault where it can do no more harm. 

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” I have been afraid to reveal the truth. But, there is so much I need to say. Before it’s too late.

Beside me on my bed is a box. I trail my fingers through the film of dust on its lid. It’s been hidden in the ripostiglio - our storage cellar - for eighteen years. This box contains the archive of my life; the ghosts of the past, laughter, music and tears linger within. 

With trembling hands I lift the lid. 

Like a Russian doll, inside there are more boxes. One purple. One pink. And this one - an Italian shoe box tied with a pale green ribbon. I untie the satin bow and open it. I find a small red diary from 1978, a luggage tag, a cassette tape, a tiny handmade envelope containing a lock of hair, a beautiful watch engraved with the words, ‘For Claire, Love Daniel’, a bundle of letters - orange, brown, grey envelopes - all neatly stacked in date order and tied with a red ribbon. And a photograph.

I’ve always had a memory for the finest details. I once even called myself a ‘memory archivist’. You said that I was more like an anarchist, throwing memories, like grenades, into our lives. 

I’m about to pull the pin on the final one.