Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Love Letters

I was home with my parents about ten days ago. Unfortunately due to work, I hadn't been able to spend Christmas with them, so I was eager to get back as soon after as I could. They were very happy to see me but I missed out on all the festive cheer, as the decorations had been boxed up, ready to be put away for another year. I was giving my Dad a hand to get them up into the attic, when I saw it, peeking out from behind a pile of old school books, a tattered wee shoe box.

To any other set of eyes, it was nothing more than an aging pile of folded cardboard, long abandoned to the darkness, to me, it was priceless.

When Dad wasn't looking, I snuck back up into the attic, and freed my old friend from its confinement. I counted up the years we had been apart and was shocked to find they numbered twenty and more. I lifted the lid and peered inside. Yellowed pages of writing paper, sheets of ruled copy book, ripped from long forgotten school jotters, fancy sheets of coloured velum with roses on the edge, piled one on top of the other. Each of them unique, each irreplaceable, each a memory so sweet, they were like sugar plums melting on my tongue.

I picked one out at random and eased it open. The paper was dry and crisp, not having been touched by human hands for over two decades, but the lettering was as familiar as my own. I knew each line by heart, because I had read every letter a thousand times. The words flooded over me like a wave of memory, stirring long forgotten emotions for a girl that hasn't been a girl for many years.  I remember them all, the letters, and the sweethearts.

They may have been more innocent times, or they may not have been, but they were definitely times where passion burned long and fierce, because nothing in those days happened instantly. As I flipped through my accumulated letters of love, I imagined each being penned on beds never visited, with words plucked from a mind driven mad with longing, re-read with care, folded with fingers I ached to hold, and sealed with a kiss. I held the paper close to my nose and imagined I could still detect the faintest trace of her scent.

Letter after letter opened a treasure chest of memories in my mind. They were not all so tender, now and again came the cutting one, slicing open my young heart with callous efficiency, and the pain ran fresh in my soul. There were a few, hurt and dismayed, at the damage my own heartlessness had caused, and I was ashamed.

When I finished, I tucked my treasures away in the safety of my shoe box. I felt happy and sad at the same time, a feeling only a love letter can cause, and realised this is something the teenagers of today will never have. I'm sure their hearts run as hot as any in my time, but they miss out on so much. They miss rushing home from school, just to see if the postman has been. They miss that juddering excitement of holding a letter in their hands and not knowing what wonders lie inside. They haven't the luxury of reading a heated reply endlessly in the dark small hours of the night, only to rip it up, before any true damage can be done.

Love E-mails, love texts, love skypes, love snapchats, will never fill the boots of the love letter. Some how "I miss U so much. I luv U 4 ever. x x x", just does not seem to cut the mustered. I flicked off the light in the attic and left my memories behind, promising myself that I would not wait so long, before visiting again.

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