Chere Julie, dear Jules. (Part 23)
13 Beach Street
My darling Jules,
Thank you thank you thank you for the most wonderful month of my whole life. I been back here (no thats wrong I have been back here see I havent forgot what you told me) for two days but I'm not really back here if you sees what I mean. I feels like I am still back at your cousins place and I'm just dreaming that I am back here but its really hard to say how I feels because I really dont know myself what I feels. Before I left here I thought I would be really happy to come back here and see all my family and everything and I suppose I am glad to see them really but not as much as I thought I would be. Now I sounds really terrible but dont get me wrong because I still loves them and we been talking nonstop for two days but my hearts not really in it and its like its someone else doing the talking if that makes sense.
They keeps asking me about what it was like at the house and what I did in the evenings and stuff like that and I tells them about feeding the carps and about the peacock that used to follow me around everywhere and the helicopter rides to visit your cousins friends and things like that and they nods their heads and laughs and stuff but I dont think theyre interested much. I wish they wouldnt ask me so much because I dont really feel like talking about it. I just wants to be by myself and think about it and remember what it was like because I cant really say what it was like and even if I could I bet you they wouldnt have no idea of what it was really like.
You are even better than I dreamed you would be and your the nicest man I ever met. I really felt like a princess for the whole time I was there and I didnt feel at all like your cousins was better than me even though they was really rich and spoke really posh and thats all because of you. You made me feel like I really belonged there and that I was really important and had every right to be there.
I wish we had started kissing a bit earlier and it was really nice when we finally got round to it but I had to leave the next day so it didnt leave us much time but when I thinks that we could have been kissing each other for weeks if we'd been honest with each other I regrets it a bit. I wish you had tried to kiss me the very first day because I would have let you and you told me later that you wanted to but didnt like to do it because you didnt know how I would take it. If you'd known that I was hoping you would do it then there wouldnt have been no problem so we're going to have to be more open with each other in future.
One thing I notices coming back here after a month away is that nothings happened since I left and its a bit like I only been away for a day but so much has happened to me in the last four weeks that I feels things should be a bit different but theyre not. Last night I went to the chippy for a bit of cod and Doreen and Jim that I told you about that runs it looks up and says are you back already. I told them that I been away for a month and they was gobsmacked. They said it only seems like last week or even less. Dick Sparrow who was in front of me in the queue said that he didnt even know that I had been away and I sees him most days when he's sweeping the street so you'd think he would have noticed. Then Doreen and Jims daughter Sarah comes in from the back and says that she thought I had moved away because she hadnt seen me for a while.
Another thing I notices is that I dont like fish and chips as much as I used to. They was a bit greasy and the chips was a bit soggy and I had been used to chewing things at your cousins place. The food was really good there and I never ate so much in my whole life but the strange thing is I lost weight while I was there. Several pounds in fact and people round here noticed and told me that I look really slim and Fred next door asked if your cousins had been starving me. When I told them about all I had been eating they was gobsmacked and says they wish they could afford to eat so much. I told my mum that I'll do the cooking on Sunday and she was really happy. Keith and Fred and Dave Roberts are going to come round and I'm going to make one of those things you taught me to make. I think I'll do the stuffed leg of lamb with vine leaf dumplings and pommes Madonna. I just had to look up how you spells pommes but I knows how you spells Madonna because she's a famous singer. I dont know if you has her music in France.
My dad told me about the steamed mute swan that he had with your dad and it sounds really horrible but my dad said that he loves it and it tasted just like turkey. I couldnt believe it when he said that you cooks the swan when its still alive and everybody makes a big game of it and starts pulling out its feathers to see who can get the most. He wants me to cook it for him and he's going to invite some of his mates round but I thinks that its horrible and I dont want nothing to do with it and anyway I dont have the recipe and I dont know where you'd get a swan anyway. Theres some down the canal but someone probably owns them and I dont think theyre mute swans anyway. Does it really have to be mute swans. Keith says he could get me a regular one anytime I wants it but theres no way I'm going to cook a swan while its still alive but I'd still like to see the recipe and so would Fred from next door who dont really believe it.
When you talks to your cousins I wants you to say thank you very much from me. They was really kind and was always doing stuff for me especially Julien who rides horses. It got a bit much sometimes and it was really embarrassing when we said goodbye and he starts crying and moaning and pulling his hair out and throwing himself really hard on the ground. I thought he was going to do himself an injury. I know they was all crying but he took it a bit too far. I dont think I've ever cried so much in my whole life and the top of my dress was all wet.
When I showed my sisters all the dresses your cousins gave me they was really jealous and I'm going to have to buy another wardrobe to keep them in. I'm set up for life for dresses providing I dont get fat and I'm going to be really careful what I eats from now on.
It was really nice to meet Jacqueline at long last and she's really nice but its a pity we didnt see more of each other. Thats because you and me were together most of the time and she seemed to leave us alone mostly although for my sake she could have joined us anytime she wanted to. I thinks she was a bit jealous of me for having you all to myself and there was me worrying that I was going to be jealous of her because I thought you and her was going to be together most of the time.
You know we talked about you coming here to see where I lives well I told mum and she said the best time is in the spring because winter is horrible here. Its really grey and we gets loads of rain and wind and you dont really feel like going out much and I dont want to sit around the living room with you all the time when the rest of my familys sitting there. You can take a bus out into the country from down the road or my dad could drive us somewhere and drop us off and come back and fetch us later. If Mrs Costas dont have a room then theres lots of bed and breakfasts round here.
I really cant wait to see you again and I wants to put a date on it so I can tick off the days in my calendar. I thinks that sometime in April would be good because all the flowers will be out but when I thinks that it is more than six months away I thinks that Xmas would be better but I knows that it is not such a good time for you what with all your relatives coming and stuff. I wishes it was next week actually.
I'm so happy and relieved in a way that you and me gets on so well together and its not just in letters. Even though it was only a month I feels like I got to know you really well and its like we've known each other for a really long time like years and years.
I am covering this letter with dozens of kisses and theyre all for you and I wishes I was there to deliver them in person.
All my very best love,
I love you,
Jules Lablagues xx
Ma tres chere Julie, mon amour,
I have never known such bliss; so many magic hours where my whole being tingled with joy and ecstasy. My feet seemed barely to touch the ground and to be alive in that moment was pure pleasure. One month in your presence was not nearly enough and I would have a thousand times more. I remember the quiet hours together when to sit with you in silence was worth a million words and our unspoken thoughts tumbled in a cascade of emotion into the still pool of our shared love. I remember the timelessness of existence when you were by my side. My love for you is boundless and my desire for you infinite.
I remained in Buckinghamshire for just two days after you left and, although my cousins did their best to fill the void created by your departure, I lived an empty existence. The food had lost its taste and the wine only compounded my feeling of isolation and aloneness. I wondered whether I could live without you near me or even if it was worth doing so. I had many black thoughts and suffered the deepest depression.
I drove back to France with Jacqueline and her lively company helped raise my spirits. She was extremely talkative and, at times, I wished she would say nothing and just share the silence the way you and I did so often during our short time together. I have never known her to speak so much and she shared confidences with me that I would rather not have known. I thought I knew her well but how wrong I was. She confided in me certain episodes in her life that she has never dared to share with anyone and confessed to fears that had driven her to the point of suicide.
When we arrived at the Chateau she begged to be allowed to stay overnight and I agreed, of course, but explained that it was no longer acceptable for her to share my bed. I told her that it bothered you a lot and I would not wish to cause you any distress. Jacqueline agreed, of course, and a single bed was moved into my room. I was on the point of sleep when I heard her quietly sobbing and I ached to comfort her but I remembered your words and did nothing. I was still awake when finally, exhausted, she cried herself to sleep.
I found a recipe for Steamed Mute Swan in a pre-revolutionary cookery book dated 1743 but it is a re-print of an earlier work. There is a firm warning at the top of the page that 'some ladies might prefer to wait in another room until the cooking is complete'. I am enclosing a translation of the recipe. I would not advise you to try it as it takes many years of experience to gain the necessary knowledge without which there could be a culinary disaster or, even worse, a serious accident. I would not try it myself even though I have witnessed it on several occasions.
I, too, regret that I did not express my physical desires at an earlier time. I longed to kiss you passionately from the moment I saw you but my fear of rejection inhibited me. To counteract the regret I feel there is the glowing memory of the one hour when I lost my senses and found another aspect of human existence which, until our lips met, had been denied me. I must see you again as soon as possible and your suggestion of April seems a long age into the future but I feel you are right in considering it the best time.
I have returned to my thesis 'To be or not to be' with renewed vigour. I talked to one of my cousins who was able to enlighten me merely by listening to my spoken thoughts on the matter and nodding occasional agreement. On Friday evening I will be going to see an experimental version of Hamlet in Paris where the part of the Prince of Denmark will be played by an actor who is certified insane and will be let out of the asylum for just one single performance. It will be interesting to see how a lunatic feigns madness. There has been a great clamour for tickets but, luckily, Jacqueline was able to procure two through her connections with the theatre. You need not worry for me as I have been assured that there will be many armed security men lining the front of the stage. Especially when Hamlet has a sword in his hand.
As you know, my family had been back for some time when I arrived home and so the house was already settled into a routine. Jacques has resumed his psychiatric studies, Pierre still works on the construction of a flying machine and Odile spends much of her day submerged in a bath of mashed wild fungi. The rest of the time she abrases her body with a very fine sandpaper. She claims she does not need as many layers of skin as she has and it is her intention to leave just one layer remaining.
Genevieve has painted nothing since her return. I fear she was traumatised when The Last Painting disappeared and was subsequently found completely burned in the orchard. I feely admit that I was unable to look at it without feelings of nausea, dread and revulsion but whoever took it into his hands to destroy it showed no consideration for my sister's feelings. I know that several people fainted on seeing it and uncle Frederick suffered a mild heart attack but a warning could have been placed on the door of the room where it was hung and people with a weak disposition could have avoided it. There was absolutely no need for its wanton destruction. Genevieve spends most of her time looking out the window and sighing deeply.
My parents are both well and my grandmother is the picture of rude health. The time she spent in England was very good for her.
It is my intention to drive to Brineham so the question of transport will not arise. If your father allows it I would like to go with you to the coast where we will procure rooms in a decent hotel overlooking the sea.
From my window I can see that the workmen have arrived to re-thatch the dove-cotes and I must go to give them their instructions.
I will finish this letter here although I could spend my every waking hour at my writing desk communicating my thoughts and feelings to you. All my other activities seem like tedious interruptions and sleep merely deprives me of the joy of thinking about you. I love you with all my heart and bless the day you came into my life.
Je t'aime beaucoup
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