November 28, 1896
Sarah Waters

“Edith wants to see you.” Emma said.

I had only just walked into our room with the thoughts on nothing more than curling up beneath my warm covers and falling asleep at the end of a long day. Emma’s tone was just smug enough in what she thought she knew to make me want to slap her. I did not give into the temptation although a wicked voice whispered in the back of my thoughts about how much better I would feel if I did.

Instead, I turned around and left as quickly as I had entered. I knocked softly on Edith’s door so as not to attract attention. The door flew open and I could see she had been impatiently waiting for me. I stepped inside and she closed the door behind me.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

She looked nervous. She did not look me in the eye but instead looked down at the floor. She shifter her wait from foot to foot like a naughty child waiting for parents to pass judgment. When my patience was reaching its limits, she finally spoke.

“I’ve done something and you are most likely going to be mad.” She said.

“What?” I asked.

“Just promise me you will listen to everything before you say anything.”

I regarded her carefully. My mind spun circles wondering what she could be talking about and how it would effect me and why it would anger me. Her eyes gave no clue except she was truly afraid I would not understand. I wanted to reassure her but I realized it could leave me in an awkward position if she was indeed correct.

“I will listen.” I said.

She nodded and gave me a brief smile.

“It started before I knew you well. There were the letters you received and I watched you tear them and discard them without ever reading them. You seemed so unhappy when you arrived and I tried to talk to you but you were always so defensive. I felt I had no choice.” She began.

I could have said many things as I began to understand just where the conversation was headed but I chose to bite my tongue and honor my promise to hear her out. She licked her lips and swallowed before continuing.

“I thought reading by reading the letters I would come to understand you better and maybe I would be able to help. Of course as you know, nothing ever goes according to plan.” She said.

She bit her lip as she paused and looked at me, perhaps searching for some sense that I understood.

“What have you done?” I asked.

“Nothing. Everything. They are only words on a page, but they come every week. That says something even if you don’t want to hear it or aren’t ready to hear it. I know it is none of my business and I had no right to invade your privacy like this, but you should really read this letter.”

She handed me the page, unfolded. There was no attempt to disguise she had read it. I took the page from her and held it in my hand. My hand shook with anger or fear or maybe both. I wanted to read the words and at the same time I wanted to throw it into the fire and forget I had ever known of it. In the end, it was the look in Edith’s eyes that made me read it.

November 18, 1896

Dearest Sarah,

I miss you more with each passing week and I do not know what more I can say to win back your affection. I am sorry for how I behaved after father’s death and for how I shunned you when you needed me the most. You were right about everything, but I was too stubborn to acknowledge it. If you could see your way to forgiveness and offer me another chance to be the brother you deserve, I will not fail you again.

I have given up hoping you will one day send me a letter. I wonder if you even read the pages I send, but I will never stop trying to make things right between us. Like it or not you are my little sister and I will always love you no matter where you are or what you have done. I was as broken as you at father’s passing, but unlike you I did not manage my grief. I made mistakes I would do anything to correct if only you will give me the chance.

Enclosed, I had sent you a ticket home for your Christmas break. I do not know if you are willing to come home, but I will wait at the station for you and pray you find your way. If you do not come I will understand how you feel. I know not all wrongs can be righted and not all sins can be forgiven and if I have crossed that line with you, it will forever be my shame.

As always, I hope this letter finds you well and that you are happy in all things. Mother and Deborah send their love and I send mine as well. I know you are more than capable of taking care of yourself, but I still worry about you everyday.

All my love,

I finished reading the letter and Edith shoved the train ticket into my hand. I was torn between anger and sadness. A tear dripped from my eye as I remember my brother from long ago, not the man who had shouted at me in anger in his attic, but the boy who had always stood by me.

“Go home for Christmas.” Edith said.

“You don’t understand.”

“No, I do understand. I can’t ever go home again because my family is gone forever. Yours is waiting for you and because of a tiff you are casting them off as though they are dead. Don’t wait until they really are gone before giving them another chance.” Edith said.

“It’s not that simple.” I said.

“Yes, it is. He’s apologized for what happened between you in every letter he has sent. The man knows he made a mistake now it’s up to you to forgive.”

“Some things can’t be forgiven.”

“Most things can be. Go home and give your brother a chance.”

“It’s not your business. You’ve had no right to interfere.”

“You’re right, but you are my friend and I’m only trying to help you. The longer you wait to go home the more likely you never will. Take a chance and give them one more.”

She was adamant about it. There was no swaying her opinion. She knew the facts well enough, the letters undoubtedly made it all clear. I wanted to be angry at her, but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew she was right and that made it impossible to be angry.

“All right. I’ll go.” I said.

No comments: