Geraint had always hated writing letters. Pen and paper, envelopes and stamps were anathema to him. So it took us all by complete surprise when he suddenly started to take to letter writing as if he’d been doing it all his life. And it wasn’t long before letters started coming back to him… from Sweden. Well to cut a long story short, a few months later Geraint returned from his holiday and announced he was engaged to be married to Greta.
Several years passed. We moved away to Africa and more or less lost touch with Geraint. The traditional Christmas card bore little more than a greeting, in Greta’s hand. Geraint once more had no time for letters. Indeed, it seemed he had little time for anything other than his job. We had returned home by now and had phoned several times to try and arrange a meeting. Each time a lonely Greta said she would talk to Geraint.
So it didn’t come as a surprise to hear that they had finally broken up. The surprise was the way we found out. Geraint turned up one day on our doorstep and asked if he could stay a few nights. I tried talking but at first he just couldn’t be bothered. He offered all the usual excuses: working hard to give them both a good life; to earn enough to send the children they would now never have to good schools. Who has not heard this litany of woes but coming from my best friend, from someone I knew, someone I loved, it almost wrenched my innards out.
“What can I do?” he sobbed.
I had little consolation to offer. The situation was so hopeless; there was probably little that could be done. Then I remembered that other Geraint, the Geraint that had first captured the heart of this Swedish beauty.
“Write to her”, I suggested.
“Yes, write. Write like you used to write. Those page-long letters when you shared all that was going on with her.”
He smiled and I had trouble trying to make up my mind whether it was a smile of hope or cynicism.
The next morning he wrote. He scarcely managed a few paragraphs, but even that was better than nothing. The next day he managed over a page and from then on the letters became easier and longer. It took over three weeks before a reply came. It was a short and polite with little warmth. How was he doing? Was he coping on his own? Did he need anything? Yet, Geraint was over the moon and the next letter he wrote ran over with thanks and enthusiasm.
I’d like to say that from then on it was all downhill to the fairy-tale ending. But this is real life. And in real life fairy tales do not happen often. Greta and Geraint did get back together though. It took over two years, and even now they’re back together, things still aren’t easy. Geraint doesn’t write every day, any more. They talk a lot. But he does still pick up his pen now and again and put his thoughts into written words, especially whenever he feels they’re beginning to lose touch again.
So Geraint became a letter writer after all. Yet, he never wrote a letter to anyone other than Greta. Never, that is until today. Today I got a letter from him. The envelope was framed with a thin black edge and as yet I’m still waiting for the courage to open it.
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