In my mother’s attic

The typed letters were in a box in the roof, all in order—Dad back from the war, wooing her with sweet stories when his mind had been full of darkness. It made me wish I’d known him. But he’d ‘done it’ as the family said, when I was five. Selfish, they said. These weren’t selfish words.

An hour passed before Heather popped her head up. ‘What’s going on?’

‘Sorry,’ I said. ‘I found these. Mum’s letters. From Dad.’

‘Dredge it up later. I could do with a hand.’

So I boxed them again and took them home.

It was different for Heather. She’d had more years with Dad.

As I read the letters, I felt as if we’d been given extra moments together. Some were gentle, some sad, some desperate. Some beautiful and tender. And in the middle a small bunch written by hand—so intimate I felt heat rise on my neck as I read. He’d signed these, Your Darling Forever, T.

It was my secret until, months later, Heather asked. So I told her.

‘You idiot,’ she said. ‘He couldn’t write. Too shaky. He typed everything.’


‘Clickety, clickety. Drove us half mad.’