Chere Julie, dear Jules. (Part 18)
Jules Lablagues xx
Ma chere Julie,
I am sad that you feel you need to get to know me better before you are able to open yourself completely to me. What deep dark secrets do you have? What makes you feel I will not understand and empathise with your situation? There is nothing that you have done or had done to you that will change the great love and affection I feel for you. Trust me, Julie, I wish only the best for you and I hope you will realise this and see that any fears you have are groundless. I accept you for who you are and would not want to pick out just the good bits and pretend that the rest does not exist. There are many things I have not told you about myself but these are not secrets; I have merely not got around to telling you. There is nothing I would hide from you.
You do not need to bring a television set with you as there is one in every room at my cousins' house, together with a video recorder and a stereo, I believe.
I think you should tell the inspector the truth about the amount of money you made from doing the alterations and not listen to the ones who would have you lie. A clean conscience is a soft pillow. I am enclosing a sum of money with this letter and you must not send it back to me. Pay whatever is demanded of you and if it is more than I have sent, let me know and I will send some more. I would not have you live your life in debt. This would restrict your freedom and I would have you fly unencumbered by the weight of poverty. I want you to soar through life, not crawl towards your destiny.
We are six weeks away from meeting and if the reality is anything like my imagination of what will happen then we will already know each other well and meet like old friends. I do not think it was a coincidence that we made contact with each other. I do not believe in coincidence. I think we were reaching out for each other so strongly we could not help but establish contact. If it had not been that the advertisement you placed in your local newspaper had been seen by me in a motorway service area in France then there would have been something else. I think we were destined to come together. I have never known anyone to whom I was more attracted than I am to you. You must excuse my English but when I am trying to express my deepest feelings I find that words are insufficient and, even in French, I would have difficulty in conveying my thoughts on paper.
My thesis grows no longer and I have quite lost the motivation to continue. To be or not to be - I do not seem to care anymore whether he was or not, yet I must care. My whole academic career has been directed towards this point but now I have arrived I am not sure I wish to be here. I am no longer sure what I mean by my contention that Shakespeare was an early existentialist. Was existentialism even possible before the twentieth century? Did it arrive, like nuclear fission, as a culmination of hundreds of years of thought? I am so confused. I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Do you see existentialism as a purely 20th century phenomenon or merely the blossoming of an underlying train of thought that has always been with us? I would value your ideas. To be or not to be, that is the question. What does this mean?
Jacques has fallen in love with Jacqueline. He told me that his brain is feverish with desire and he can think of nothing else. This is a problem as I know for sure that Jacqueline feels nothing but contempt for him. I dare not tell him this although I feel he should know that his love will not be reciprocated. This I have tried to do but he does not believe me and accuses me of speaking from jealousy. I have never heard Jacqueline say a nice thing about him. She has always despised him for his lack of courage, his vacuity and abject self-pity. She does not believe that Jacques' present state of mind will endure the test of time and he will soon revert to the craven character he has always been. She might be right, I have never known her intuition to fail her, but I am afraid an outright rejection from her might prove the catalyst in the total disintegration of his personality.
Odile has embraced a West Indian belief and plays drums in her room. She puts pig fat in her hair and makes it stick out in spikes. She alternates between hours of silent introversion and hours of garrulous talking about the illusion of existence. I think I prefer the silence. The smell of burning leaves comes from her room and acrid smoke seeps under the door. She has a constant cough and I wonder if it is healthy for her to sit in a smoke filled room. I worry about her sometimes.
My parents are both well and my father conveys his best wishes to you and to say that he looks forward to meeting you. Not as much as I do. It will not be long but time drags its heels. Please write back soon. Your letters are more important than the air I breathe.
With very great affection,
13 Beach Street
My darling Jules,
Fancy you asking me my opinions on what you are studying. I already told you that I didnt know what existentialism meant and I didnt even know how to say it but I went and asked one of the teachers at my old school what it was and she told me and it took her about twenty minutes and when she was finished I still didnt know what it means but I knows how you says it now. My dad looked at it and said he thought it was something to do with living in a tent as far as he could see. It cant be that because people have been living in tents for thousands of years so Shakespeare couldnt have been one of the first could he. Sharon looked at it and said she thought is might be something like communism because they both ends in ism. I'm afraid I cant help you much.
When I saw how much money you sent I was gobsmacked. Whats all that for. My dad said that you must want something pretty desperate to send all that money. When my dad got his redundency pay he took it all out of the bank and brought it home and put it on the table and we all took turns counting it and we just sort of sat there touching it and smelling it and stuff. The next day my dad put it all back in the bank. A couple days later he took it all out again and brought it home and we sat around watching telly and took turns to have it on our laps. If felt really good. Then he put it all back in the bank again. You didnt send as much as that but its still a lot and I dont know if I can really let myself keep it because then I'll feel like I owes you something or at least thats what my mum says. I told her that people gives each other presents all the time and it dont mean you got to do something for the other person does it. I tells myself that you can probably afford it and I should just say thank you very much and leave it at that but something tells me I should be careful. I likes to pay my own way in life and up to now I've managed to do it so what I'll do is send back the money you sent for the dress and I'll call the wedding dress my present to you when its finished.
I wish I hadnt said nothing about some secrets concerning my dad and us girls but its done now. There are certain things that happened that I never told nobody about and I wasnt going to anyhow until I let it slip to you. Its not the sort of thing you tells to just anyone especially if youve never met them but I'll tell you one day if I think the time is right. I really wants to tell you all about me and everything thats happened to me and I really dont want to keep any secrets from you but I'm not ready yet and anyway I wouldnt put it in a letter. Its not the sort of thing you'd write to someone. I've aready said more than I wanted to say and I wish I hadnt started. I hopes you understands that its not because I wants to keep anything from you and its just because I really cant do it right now.
Last night Dave Roberts got beat up really bad and Sharon says she cant bear to look at him because they really made a mess of his face. Both his arms got broke as well but she dont mind that because she's seen broken arms before but she said his face looks like a child made it out of red and purple plastercine. He cant speak proper because his mouth is all swelled up and when Sharon asked him if he knew who done it he just shakes his head and tries to say no but it comes out like oh and the gurgling noises in his throat makes it worse. Sharon thinks that he really does know them but he dont want to say who it is because then they'd come back and do him over even worse. When youve broke someones arms and kicked them all over and a few times between the legs and messed up his face then I dont know how you could do him over even worse. I think nows a good time for Sharon to dump him because she says she's not going over to him for a couple of weeks until he starts to look better. I think she thinks its a good time as well to tell him that she's finished with him.
I dont think it was a coincidence either that you answered my ad in the paper for a penpal and I can remember thinking that it was strange that both our names were nearly the same and I think I wrote that a long time ago. Kirsty believes in astrology and said it was something to do with our planets. I dont know about that but I do know that I'm really glad that you wrote to me. You was the only one who answered. Once Sharon put an ad like mine in the paper and she got over twenty letters so I dont know why I only got one answer. Sharon only wrote back to three of them and none of them wrote again so I was really lucky that I got you.
I'll be seeing you really soon and I goes all shivery when I thinks about it. I looks at your photo about a hundred times a day and stares at it and imagines talking to you and it feels really nice. I still gets scared when I thinks about it sometimes but I tells myself not to worry its going to be alright. My dad says that French people kisses each other all the time and men kisses men and women kisses women. Is that true because if it is will I be expected to go round kissing people. I dont know if I could kiss complete strangers. I dont think it would be any bother to kiss you and I'm quite looking forward to that but as for all the others I think I could kiss the Comtesse Jacqueline de Montfort even though I've never kissed any woman before except my mum and sisters. I knows you just kisses on the cheeks and its not snogging but I thinks that kissing is sort of personal and you should know the person well before you does it.
I think I'd better tell you that I thinks your sister Odiles on drugs and she's not burning leaves in her room. When you said that about what she was like I thought to myself that she's like some of them round here. Lots of them round here smokes drugs and not just the young ones but the older ones too. I been offered drugs but I dont want nothing to do with it. I think you'd better keep an eye on her because you dont want her getting mixed up in it.
I'm going shopping for underwear today and my mums just said that she's ready to go.
Thanks for all your letters. They makes me so happy.
All my love,
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