You’re doing okay, I hope? Your previous letter painted a dire picture, said you hadn’t gotten out of bed in a few days, I’m sorry to hear. My thoughts are that you should drink less tea, more water, and have a banana every morning. I eat two a day, and my energy is through the roof. I walk three laps on the grounds without stopping, let them take that to the bank and cash it.
They probably have. Explains the new nurse uniforms but the lack of new food in the cafeteria. Consistency, at least.
I have a picture on my nightstand now, they put it in the other night. Apparently they found it in storage among my bags. The nurse told me it was you and me on our wedding day. Do you believe that? We were married once. Funny, but when I read your letters I get a sense that you don’t know who I am. I also picture you with almond hair down to your shoulders, and a little curly, but in this wedding picture, that they say is us, you have blond hair just past your ears.
But I don’t recall your face.
The picture is in my room, I’m outside on a bench writing this, watching the other residents avoid the drizzle that’s been coming down all morning. Rain, something I’ve never worried about despite everything.
The others, their skin is sensitive. Ronny’s turning red, and Gloria’s nose is stripping away already. It’ll take a few days for them to replace it this time. It’s almost like their faces never fully recovered. But that’s how it is and they just haven’t grown used to it. These kids. I say kids, but none of them could return to work if they tried, ages what they are. Shame. Bones are so brittle, but only because they never knew how to use them right.
I wish we could have stuck together through it all, Maude. I’ve forgotten your face again. Did your eyes remain blue? And your ears, are they still… do you still have them?
When I look in the mirror, I see the bending cartilage and reconstructed plastic, but little else that resembles me, the me that I can see in the back of my mind, somewhere in the haze and the leaves that stick to memories, blocking the view.
They are wonders, these doctors, but they’ll never bring me back to the young boy I once was, the one who met a girl and married her on the edge of the ocean. Back when the ocean was blue, and not grey, and the sky was blue and the rain didn’t scare us under our roofs. When I stand under the rain now, my hands burn but my skin remains tough, doesn’t fade. I’ve built up a tolerance over the years, and I’m the only one who can stand the rain.
I think the rest are jealous, or maybe they’re waiting for the day when my skin won’t hold any longer. Then they can watch me melt. That’d be a sight.
I wish you would get out of bed, Maude. You would so enjoy the rain, walking between the drops that other people run from, and then we’d have the world to ourselves.
I hope you get out of bed soon, Maude.
To Eddie. From Maude.
I am not married. Must be somebody else in that photo, I do have almond hair though.
I have a stack of letters at my bedside, all from you, so I suppose we once knew each other. But your words and pages are my company, so I will thank you for them.
Only one nurse, older than I am, if you can believe it, visits me to make sure I eat and can use the bathroom.
The bed is my comfort zone. The nurse won’t let me walk but the few yards to the bathroom, which isn’t so bad. My toes hurt by the time I get back into bed.
My skin layers are very thin, like a wax paper that’s been dragged through the wash. Even holding this pencil is taking great resilience to keep writing. I’ll have to send this letter shortly, wouldn’t want to hold onto it for later and forget to send it.
But I also do not remember your face. I want to see it soon.
Do not forget to walk on the stones when you make it to the river it’s the only way to cross. I will be waiting.
I tried, I really did. Hopefully the Postals find this letter and can bring it to you.
You said your toes hurt after you walk to the bathroom, I know a little of that feeling, but only a little. My toes are now gone. And my feet. I listened to your words, read them aloud, and when I tried to cross the river, the stones crumbled. Hadn’t felt the weight of a person in ages, I suppose.
Once my legs hit the water, that was it.
River water is more toxic than the rains, it turns out. I’ll soon be simmering away, or gone hungry and unable to sustain myself. My arms are too weak to pull myself loose, and you’re still miles away, and my home is far behind.
I have a snack with me, so at least will go out with a full stomach and a taste that will keep my senses satiated as I think of you and your almond hair.
I still hope that one day you will get outside to stand in the rain one day, Maude. When you do, write me a note?
I’ll see it.
As I now see your face.