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Stories & Scripts

Source: Adults

Author: Barry Gee

Title: Chere Julie, dear Jules. (Part 19)

Jules Lablagues xx

Chateau Lablagues

19th June

Ma tres chere Julie,

Your letter brightened my otherwise sombre day. I have spent much time outside Genevieve's room wondering whether I should break down the door and see what she is doing. At night, until a few days ago, a light could be seen under her door but I think the light bulb is now dead. I can hear the sound of her brush on the canvas so she is still painting. This means she must be working in the dark and I imagine it is pitch black in there. If she is unable to see what she is doing, how will she know what it looks like. She will be unable to distinguish one colour from another. It is very worrying.

Odile is no less worrying. Her new religion requires her to give up all her possessions and live in a tree. She has been perched in the old oak tree for three days wearing only coarse sacking and she is looking very tired. I was afraid she would fall asleep and tumble so I gave her some ropes and helped her to bind herself to the tree. Workmen are coming today to construct a small dwelling in the branches and then she will be more comfortable and there is less chance that she will fall. It is her intention to remain in the tree for ever and learn to sway in the wind. She expects that when she has mastered the state of being one with the tree, all her hair will fall out in the autumn and grow back again in the spring. Her ultimate aim is, of course, to be like the Master who, in the fifteenth century, apparently, achieved total unity with a Banyan tree to the point where his body fused with the trunk and he grew bark instead of skin and was nourished solely by the rain. Many have since tried but none have ever successfully achieved total fusion but Odile feels confident that she can do it. Until the day that she is nourished by the earth I have to supply her with food four or five times a day as the fresh air makes her very hungry.

Jacques is developing into a splendid young man and he has become very outgoing. In fact, he goes out most evenings and rarely eats with us. He drives into Paris, which is about an hour away, and dines at Le Club de la Revolution which is open only to descendents of the victimised aristocracy of 1789. The food is prepared over an open fire as it would have been at that time and, as there is not gas or electricity, they eat by candle-light. The food is not particularly good as the chefs can barely see what they are doing and things frequently get burned. It is also extremely expensive but all the profits go towards the restoration of the Monarchy. Jacques has been welcomed as a member of the committee. Pierre says that a few well-placed bombs would do more in a day than the committee have done in the thirty years since it was founded. I do not agree with this. Violence breeds violence and I would not like to see a bloody resumption of the hostilities of two hundred years ago. One day, and I firmly believe this, the people of France will realise the error of their ways and clamour for the restoration of the Monarchy but the time is not yet. We must be patient. The sea does not wear down a mountain overnight.

After dining, Jacques goes to one of his clubs and dances most of the nights away. He comes home some mornings smelling of perfume, cigarette smoke and wine. It is wonderful to see the transformation from the shy, self-effacing, introverted person that he was into the confident, suave, forthright individual he has become. He has overcome his infatuation with Jacqueline and no longer wishes to continue with his career as a psychiatrist and has muted the idea that he would like to devote his life to the renovation of the derelict Chateaux which are found all over France. In order to recoup his expenditure and to further his work he will be forced to divide them into apartments and suites and sell them to whoever is willing to pay the price. It would be preferable to have just one family per Chateau and one who, through lineage, deserved the privilege, but nobody can afford to buy a fully restored Chateau in these days of crippling property taxes.

Your comments on existentialism were very enlightening. Although you may not know it, you pointed a finger at the very problem that confronts me. I, myself, do not know what existentialism means. I understand the concept, of course, and intellectually comprehend the consequences but I really cannot say that I grasp the meaning behind it. The idea that existence is only what we can see and touch is abhorrent to me and while I cannot, unlike my sister, believe in a god, I do feel that is more to life than that we witness with our sight and other senses. I have never seen you but i feel our souls have touched and will remain for ever intertwined. Like a bucket of water thrown into the sea where it becomes part of everything around it, I feel our spirits have been cast into the greater consciousness which is everywhere around us and we have merged into a universal one-ness. It is for this reason that I do not fear meeting you in person. It is not distance that separates us, dear Julie, it is time. Though we are miles apart, I could not feel closer to you than I do right now. Maybe physical separation forges a stronger bond between a couple than constant contact. Through your letters, I have come to know you, very slowly, and have had time to reflect on every word you wrote before replying. In less than six weeks time we will meet and our silences will say more than the thousands of sentences we have exchanged in writing.

My sister, Odile, assures me that the herbs she was burning were part of the ceremony in a religion that no longer interests her. After inhaling the smoke she saw visions but has no desire to spend her life in a self-induced hallucination. It was good that you expressed your fears and I am grateful that you care for the well-being of one of my sisters.

With all my love and affection,


Julie Sanders

13 Beach Street

26th June

My darling Jules,

Just a month or so to go and I have just had an attack of the colleywobbles thinking about it. When that happens I goes all paralysed and people says that my eyes bulges out and I looks like I seen something amazing and frightening at the same time. I just stops whatever I am doing and sort of freezes in mid air like a statue and it lasts for minutes sometimes. Its like I stops thinking because its all a blank to me and I dont remember nothing from the moment I went paralysed to when I starts moving again. Its really strange. The worrying thing is that it seems to last longer and longer each time. The last one seemed longer than usual because the news was just starting on the telly when it happened and the next thing I knew they was half way through a cooking programme.

The secret is out between Sharon and Keith. He proposed to her and theyre going to get married. I think Sharon said yes just to shut him up because for eight days the only words he said to her was will you marry me. He must have said it a thousand times and each time Sharon said no and tried to change the subject. Finally she said yes but I thinks it was because she was fed up with him asking. He gave her a ring but she keeps it in her pocket and only puts it on when she sees him. She says she dont want to get married before she's thirty odd so theres a long time to go. I dont think it will ever happen.

Dave Roberts sent a message to Kirsty that he wants to see her but she dont want to see him so she's pretending she's too ill to go out but that means she's got to stay at home all the time because if someone saw her and told Dave then he'd have it in for her. A few years ago he had it in for Jean Griffiths when she refused to do what he told her to and two weeks later her hair went grey. It was the worry that did it because he didnt go near her but he kept telling people who knew her what was going to happen to her if she didnt go back and apologise. Of course they went and told her and she couldnt sleep at night and she stopped eating and she just sat in a chair and stared at the fireplace. After her hair turned grey she went to see Dave to say sorry and he said he wouldnt have it in for her anymore but he finished with her anyway and said it was because she looked old and ugly with grey hair and it was like looking at his grandmother. Kirsty dont look too worried yet but it would be a pity if her hair turned grey.

I told you I didnt want to have any secrets from you except for some and I'll tell you those later and so I'll tell you what I dreamed last night. Me and you was married and we was running a pub in the country called the Huntsmans Arms and it had a thatched roof and ivy and all that sort of stuff. We were both stood behind the bar and there was a notice on the wall saying Steamed Mute Swan sandwiches. Everything was shiny and it smelled of leather in a car on a hot day. Lots of people are drinking and talking and laughing and its a really good atmosphere. I felt really happy and your all smiling and looking around and your really handsome.

Suddenly I looks up and all the people are gone and its only you and me left and thats when I realises that we are really married and its a bit of a shock I can tell you. Then you locks all the doors and says lets go upstairs and I knows what you wants to do but your allowed to because your my husband but I dont really want to go and I'm getting a bit scared. Then you says that I shouldnt tell nobody about it and it would be our little secret and I wonders what you are talking about because if we're husband and wife we're allowed to do it although I probably wouldnt tell anyone anyway. Then you opens the door to upstairs and says that I knows what will happen to me if I dont. Thats when I woke up luckily because it was getting really scary. It was horrible the way you turned from being a nice kind man into this really nasty person who didnt even look like you. It was the third night in a row that I've had the same dream and I'm scared that one day I'm going to go upstairs and something really terrible is going to happen but I dont know what it is. I only knows that its really bad and its best I dont know about it but a little bit of me wants to know what it is up there.

My dad has decided that he wants to get a job. Now that he's sober he gets bored easily and when he's bored he always wants a drink and he's not allowed to so he thinks that going to work is the best solution but when your over fifty its not so easy to get a job. He went for five interviews yesterday and none of them even asked him to fill out an application form and he came home and started shouting the odds about how Britain was giving up on the ones with age and experience in favour of young kids just out of college. I've never seen him like that and usually its the other way round. He used to say that it would cure unemployment if the retirment age was fifty but now he goes around saying that he's got twenty good years left in him yet. Another problem is that now he's been on 100% invalidity benefits for a few months its hard for him to say he's totally cured and fit for work. The doctors note said that he had a degenerative muscle wasting disease and would never be in a position to take employment again. Him and the doctor used to know each other at school. My dads going to get him to write another note to say that the first one was wrong and that he's completely fit to work.

I wants the next four or five weeks to go really quick but its going to be very long. Every day sems to go on and on and I cant wait for them to finish so I can go to bed and think that theres one more day over and done with. I got lots more to go like that and all I seems to do all day is sit in front of the telly having black outs when I goes all paralysed. Thank goodness its only five more weeks because it it was longer than that then I dont think I could take it. I'm very nervous but I'm not going to the doctor to get some pills for it like most of the people I knows around here. Somebody stole the other pills I had and I think it was Keith because you can sell stuff like that round here and thats the kind of thing he would do. Wishing away the days seems to make them last longer.

I really cant believe all this is happening to me. Its the most exciting and best thing that ever happened to me but its almost too good and I cant handle it proper. I dont know what I am saying and I just wants time to pass away quick so I gets to see you. It wont be that long.

Give my best wishes to your family,

All my love,


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