Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Letter to Evie

Happy Leap Day, everyone! Let's be grateful for one extra Wednesday in February to share some writing. Today's piece comes from Mark Russell Gelade, a writer and musician from Montreal whose short fiction won the 2004 World's Best Short Short Story Contest, judged by Robert Olen Butler. His short story collection, Navigating by Stars: 24 (Short) Stories of Love & Longing is currently seeking a publisher. He is sharing a short piece with us, Letter to Evie, which can be heard as an audio file here. Enjoy!

Letter to Evie
By Mark Russell Gelade 

I hope you don’t mind me writing out of the blue like this, but at our age, I think it’s nice to reconnect with old friends—at least I hope it is.

I bet winter is really shaping up there in Montréal. I remember how you always hated the winters, so I can only imagine how troubled your old bones are now, living in such a cold and unforgiving climate.

I finally moved down to Florida with Etta, Judy, and Earl. The four of us make a small, strange tribe, but we don’t mind. Etta and Judy even started yoga this year. Earl still chain-smokes, and me, well, I’m a little unsteady on my feet these days—but I still get around.

I’ve been having the strangest dreams lately. Last night, I dreamed I was stuck at the top of a ladder, trying to enter my house through an open window. I was afraid the ladder would slip out from underneath and leave me dangling from the ledge for dear life.

I don’t have a clue what that dream was about, but when I awoke this morning, I thought it was high-time I unpacked some of that old baggage from the past and dropped you a line.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the old days recently, though you probably wouldn’t expect that—you and me jagging here and there in that old Mustang my dad bought me.

I remember that one evening we had parked across the street from the local baseball diamond. The sun was setting and everything growing still; just the green symmetry of that field and the sky on fire with orange—and you and me sitting there looking out through the windshield like we were watching the second-coming.

Then Paul ambled up to the car, tapped on the window, and asked if he could bum a cigarette. I remember we were both enthralled over the long-haired, high school quarterback who we secretly knew would never be anyone’s idea of a real athlete.

I know it’s ancient history now—who stole whose boyfriend, but the rift between us never quite healed, did it dear?

I didn’t know much about anything back then, much less anything about love. But I do know that it was a long time ago and that eventually we both found our way—you and Brian, and me and Paul. I did receive your card by the way, after Paul’s passing, so thanks for that.

It’s strange when you lose a mate, even though they’re gone, some residue of their being remains behind, attaching itself to you like a shadow—a weightless reminder of the times you had and the places you went.

These days my own shadow is stooped and accompanied by the outlines of my faithful metal walker; you know the kind, with squeaky, plastic wheels. I can sometimes sense your shadow, too, walking next to me, though I know you hate the Florida heat and the white-shorts-and-tennis crowd.

Anyhow, I am alone now, but not without company. Etta should be here shortly, and so should Earl, if he ever wakes up from his nap, which at our age is always a toss-up.

Give my fond regards to Montréal. If you ever decide to trade in the hats and coats and get with the hedonists, you know where to find us!

Paul always cared deeply for you, too, you know. He told me so not very long ago, when things were starting to go downhill.

I believe that love affairs, once they’re over, live on in the shadows we cast each day—when we’re out in the sun, or looking out at the sea, or simply shutting our eyes for the briefest of moments to remember the ones we loved as they pass through our thoughts, as intimate as a whisper, as heartfelt as a sigh.

2 comments:

  1. It's very hard for writing to hold my attention, but this piece certainly did.

    Absolutely gorgeous. If there is anywhere I could purchase it, I would. Just tell me where.

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  2. This took me away some other time and place - jostled around on an express bus during rush hour I was watching a sunset over a ballpark field. Sad but somehow not depressing; and a whole life captured in a snapshot. Love the final paragraph. Memories can be like that - tied to times of the day, weather, light...

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