To Mrs Fleming, 1946
I have been shown the files of the War Department, a statement of the General; that you are the wife of Mr. Peter Fleming who has died gloriously with total selflessness on the field of battle. I feel fruitless must be any word of mine, which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from informing you of the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic he died to save. I pray that our heavenly father assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the pride that must be yours to have of your husband after his sacrifice.
Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
That was it. An unknown man, only recently aware of her existence, had silenced her relentless flutter of hope keeping her going, with a simple flourish of ink. Barely 150 words had succeeded in altering her previously positive outlook on the now despondent future. To her, hope was terribly overrated; more often than not it set one up for disillusionment, creating a false sense of security, where you soften the hard reality of truth with belief. Never before had she been much of a pessimist but the loss of a beloved family member scars her mind, until she began to doubt her own existence. It penetrates her innermost fears and increases her uncertainties, the latter symptom appearing in her actions and thoughts, therefore her present misgiving in faith. However, despite her qualm in hope she had been convinced by the spirit, but now wished dreadfully that she hadn’t. Hope was ephemeral, not made to subsist against authenticity.
Despite the now hollow sensation in her chest, Mrs Fleming was reluctantly sceptical about the sender’s attempt to empathise with her newly-acquired loss. The correspondent’s life was inimitable to her situation. Never would he experience the recurring thought of the deceased or the solitude when she reminisce at recalling memories long before, or the unremitting reminder that they were not living among her.
Before, she had been able to conceal her true emotions, disguising them with a plastic mould of shock on her seemingly composed façade, but when a tarnished necklace fell onto her crisp apron, her mask faltered when the piece of jewellery was identifiable.
Vision blurred by tears, she inspected the item sent in addition with the tactless letter, using her nails to scrape off cracked mud, consequently filling the silence with the sound of sporadic screeching. The darkness was heavy, re-enacting the experience of drowning, not though as if she made any effort to dispel the heart-wrenching shadows with comforting wicks. Any bloodcurdling nightmare that intimidated her as a child, was always the same. Each and every one that inundated her when the bulb like moon hung in the sky overwhelmed the dreams at their weakest. Whenever anything felt illuminated with ecstasy or when her heart felt light, the swirling torrents of tears engulfed her, drowning out pleads for assistance. Despite the recurring nightmare, it never failed to strike fear into her soul, dismissing anything positive. It always ended the same, waking drenched in sweat, a scream in her throat before the light of her treasured candles chased the dreams away.
Therefore, the woman was accustomed with the pressing sensation, compelling her unleashed imagination to create ghastly outcomes, yet she had no willingness to make a flame. At this moment in time she was giving in, satisfied to wallow in her own self pity.
Once again her nonspecific eyes were drawn to the cause of her distress.
Her husband’s dog tag. Once again, tears ran down her sodden cheeks drying upon her flushed face, causing them to become stiff. The women sobbing uncontrollably with irrepressible shakes and quivering shoulders surrendered to her cries, and fell asleep to guaranteed disorderly dreams.