16 comments

Romance Sad

Dear Bradley,

I dressed for death today, burnt oranges and smoky greys. Everyone else is wearing black but that is such a cold colour, and you were all fire and warmth, so I wrapped myself in your fire to say goodbye. I don’t really know how to write today, and my tears are staining the page, now the ink is smudging but I needed you to know that I’m thinking of you.

Your mum said, ‘I know how much you loved him.’ She was trying her hardest to be sweet but how awful to think that it’s all past tense. I’m thinking of you Brad and I’m loving you right now. Present tense.

I don’t want to talk bad about your mum, she was only being nice, and she was the woman who raised you. She made me spaghetti Bolognese every Wednesday and I loved her for that.

I know that if I could hold your hand and tell you what I’m about to tell you then you’d laugh and say you loved my sense of hope, like those times we laid on your bed and you would play with my hair and tell me that of course I could do anything I put my mind too. Bradley, I feel you with me, it’s like you’re still here somehow. I was sat in the church and there was a shadow behind me, it was your shape, your posture. But more than that, there was no one sat directly behind me. It felt like maybe it could be you letting me know that a part of you is still here, I won’t ever lose you completely. And even afterwards when I was walking home, I kept thinking somehow was behind me, this shadow kept falling across my line of vision but every time I turned, there was no one there. You were stood right behind me, but you weren’t.

I’m sorry I can’t write a longer first letter but I’m going to help your mum clear out your room. She’s not strong enough alone and I don’t think I am either, but two weak people are better than one.

I didn’t know how to start this letter and I don’t know how to finish it either. You know my name but it’s not personal enough to sign off with just that. I was never just Katy to you. Goodbye, from your girlfriend sounds ridiculous.

The tears are making the paper tear now, I don’t think this is even legible anymore. I promise I’ll write more letters soon. I’ll never stop writing to you.

Sincerely,

Yours

Dear Bradley,

I miss you so much I can physically feel it. I don’t understand how the world can carry on spinning without you in it. I stare out the window and everyone else just walks down the street like the worst thing in the world hasn’t just happened. But Brad, they don’t even know, and I want to scream at them to just stop! Because my heart is breaking and it’s breaking again the next day and then the next and I don’t know how I’m ever meant to be whole again.

If you throw a glass vase at the wall it will shatter. If you then pick up all the shards and throw them again, they will shatter into even smaller pieces. You can’t ever glue that back together.

I’m the vase.

I love you and I miss you.

Sincerely,

Yours

Dear Bradley,

It’s Halloween tomorrow and it seems silly without you but I’m really trying to keep our traditions going. Halloween before you was something I was never interested in, the fancy costumes and handing out sweets to strangers but you made it more than that. Your need to celebrate everything turned it into cinnamon candles, pumpkin patches and toffee apples. Your need to celebrate everything turned it into something beautiful.

I’m off to buy one of those cinnamon candles today and I’m going to light it for you.

Sincerely

Yours

Dear Bradley,

We were only 20 when you left me Brad. We were so full of life and love. I used to hate it when people would say we’d never last because of how young we were, screw age. We had something more than all of them combined. They didn’t get it because their relationships had become changing nappies and choosing what to have for dinner. They were dulled down by their normality.

We were more than them. We would stay up all night talking and looking at houses and trying to work out how many pay rises we would need to get a mortgage. You wanted to rent; you were happy just being with me.

I thought you didn’t get it, how in love I felt because surely no one had ever felt this much and this intensely before. How I thought even your eyebrows were beautiful and I loved to run my fingers over the smooth skin at the inside of your elbow because every part of you was just perfect. But then I was getting changed with my back to you and you said ‘your spine is beautiful. The way it curves down your back is beautiful.’ And in that moment, I knew that you got it.

I still feel you with me, that shadow I saw at your funeral; it walks behind me sometimes when there is no one else walking my route. I walk, placing one foot carefully in front of the other pretending I’m just avoiding the cracks in the pavement but really, I’m watching for signs of you in the shadows. The thin part of the silhouette at the top that looked like the strands of your hair that used to fall away from the rest.

I work in an office now and not one of the fancy ones like lawyers have, it’s shoved in between a block of flats and a gym. I’ve become one of the people dulled by normality.

Sincerely,

Yours

Dear Bradley,

Happy birthday handsome! I love you so much and I hope you have a wonderful day up there; I’ll be toasting to you today. I have one of those jack daniels and coke cans that you said you loved but I’m pretty sure you hated. Anyway, I have one, so I’ll try it today and hold it up to you. Your mum helped me put a load of balloons up, it looks like an arch and I’ll get some flowers for you later. I’ll try find those yellow ones with the small petals that you used to buy for me. Anyway, I bet you have fancy angel liqueur or something, so I won’t wait up for you.

Sincerely,

Yours

Dear Bradley,

I know you never wanted to me to give up writing stories and I haven’t, but I did take a small hiatus. It was hard for a while. I didn’t have you to read my final drafts and smile and then tell me how brilliant I am. I didn’t have you to bring me a coffee when I was drooping with sleep filled eyes at 2am. I didn’t have your encouragement or motivation to keep me going when mine sapped.

I used to write about smoke from bonfires and smoke from cigarettes and bottles of white zinfandel held in the firm grasp of the clawed hand of an elegant woman, mid 20s, with an oversize cream jumper and the sort of acrylics that make it impossible to tie your shoelaces. I wrote about it because I wanted to be her, I wanted to live my life with the sort of young adult aesthetic of having your life together and how exciting it all seemed when you were young. When all you had were stolen sips of your dad’s yeasty bear, and you hated it, it was far too bitter and bready but you still stole a bit every time he turned his back so you could feel grown up.

But now I am grown up. Well, the mid 20s sort of grown up and I write about smoke and spirits because it’s relatable and I don’t have the imagination to write about anything I’m not anymore. But it is far from aesthetic, it’s the lonely cigarettes smoked on porches under the failing light that hides you while you cough your smokers cough from lungs 40 years older than you. It’s the whisky swallowed to help you sleep at night because office stress and paying bills stress and freaking laundry machine has broken again stress would keep you awake all night if you didn’t just knock yourself out with liquid the colour of honey.

I’m rambling but I do still write stories, I promise I do. But I don’t write the way I used too. I don’t write my dreams; I write what I am and that’s not nearly as good. I can’t imagine you reading any of my recent work and calling it brilliant.

I’ll try and be better for you.

Sincerely,

Yours

Dear Bradley,

Your sister graduated today. She looked so gorgeous, she’s a blonde now. I know it’s nuts, right? How she is old enough to graduate I’ll never know. She looks like you now. Her face shape changed slightly over the years and her eyelashes are long like yours but it’s her laugh that is so similar it’s uncanny.

We left an empty seat for you. One right next to me and I know just how hard you would have been smiling to see her walk up there in the cap and gown. I took loads of photos; I wish I could show you. The sun was shining so the pictures came out lovely, well apart from the shadow that covered half her face in one, but I know that was just you telling her you wouldn’t miss her graduation for the world.

I love you still.

Sincerely,

Yours

Dear Bradley,

Mum says I should stop writing these letters now, it has been 4 years and hundreds of letters, but it is my only tether to you, and I don’t know how I’m meant to let that go. I don’t think of you every day anymore, is that horrible to admit? But I still think of you in the beautiful moments; when someone smiles and it reaches their eyes, you used to smile like that. Or when I see fireworks and remember how you used to love them so much or when the stars wink at me from their navy canvas, and I can almost see you amongst them.

I’m sorry Brad, I’m sorry I held on to you so tightly for so long. It didn’t give you dignity, it was selfish. The truth is your wings were ready, but my heart was not. And I needed this to be able to deny what I wasn’t ready to accept but I think I’m ready now. I think my proper grieving process needs to start, now I’ve accepted that one-way conversations through letters that can’t ever be delivered may not be the healthiest for me.

So, Bradley, this is my last letter to you, for a while anyway. I think I’m ready to love you from afar. I think I’m ready to put the pen down and leave my last letter that the gardener will take away when he next mows the grass. I’ll see you in the next life but until then I’ll see you in the shadows and I’ll see you in the stars.

Sincerely,

Yours

October 24, 2022 07:28

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16 comments

Jack Bell
00:22 Nov 04, 2022

The quality of writing is high, and that is far and away the most important thing. But I wonder if the "love and goodness" wasn't almost a bit oppressive. Perhaps we needed a bit more dramatic input from the shadow, rather than it being a benign member of the chorus. Or perhaps I'm a loveless cynic who only finds meaning in writing outraged letters to editors. Still, the voice of the MC kept me reading to the end, so maybe there's hope for us all.

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Jennifer Cameron
13:27 Nov 09, 2022

Thank you and it's the first time I've written anything resembling romance so it could definitely be improved on.

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Angeliki P
13:42 Nov 03, 2022

This is beautiful. A very poignant piece. Really like how you incorporated the shadow element like that, too.

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Jennifer Cameron
13:25 Nov 09, 2022

thank you so much

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Rebecca Miles
06:31 Oct 31, 2022

This pulls at the heartstrings and the idea of love letters to the deadly departed is great. I thought it very plausible that this was an exercise in grieving she needed.

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Jennifer Cameron
07:30 Nov 03, 2022

Thank you so much

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Charlie Murphy
01:12 Oct 31, 2022

What a wonderful story! Interesting way of grieving. I guess writing letters to the dead is healthy.

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Jennifer Cameron
07:30 Nov 03, 2022

Thank you

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Francois Kosie
18:18 Oct 30, 2022

I love your writing. Also I'm a sucker for sad and nostalgic stories. This was just great! This is one I'll come back to re-read again later for sure.

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Jennifer Cameron
20:27 Oct 30, 2022

I really appreciate your comment thank you

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Daniel Allen
12:41 Oct 30, 2022

A really powerful piece packed with emotion. Your protagonist has such a strong voice that we can almost see Bradley come alive before our very eyes. I especially like how she described how she has changed as a result of his death. Really well done!

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Jennifer Cameron
20:27 Oct 30, 2022

Thank you so much

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Delbert Griffith
13:39 Oct 28, 2022

The letters to a dead lover idea was fantastic. Great work and great voice. With all respect, you have a couple of glaring grammatical errors; you used "too" instead of 'to" in a couple of places. Otherwise, a great read. Your talent shows through.

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Jennifer Cameron
20:27 Oct 30, 2022

Thank you so much, my grammar definitely needs work so thank you for pointing this out :)

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AnneMarie Miles
14:18 Oct 24, 2022

A story full of emotion. When I first saw this prompt, I immediately thought it could be a romance, but I didn't consider a sad story like this, though it works so well here. I love the voice, and the letter-writing approach offers a more personal perspective and you didn't waste any opportunity to offer a lot of details. This line stuck with me the most: "She was trying her hardest to be sweet but how awful to think that it’s all past tense. I’m thinking of you Brad and I’m loving you right now. Present tense." It was an easy story to r...

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Jennifer Cameron
06:52 Oct 25, 2022

Thank you so much, really appreciate your comment :)

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