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 ‘had his accident’, as the family said, when I was five. Selfish, they said. These weren’t selfish words.
Heather popped her head up. ‘What’s going on?’
‘I found these letters from Dad to Mum.’
‘Dredge it up later,’ she said. ‘I could do with a hand.’
So I took them home.
It was different for Heather. She’d had more years with Dad.
As I read, I felt Dad and I had been given extra moments together. Some were gentle, some sad, some desperate. Some beautiful and tender. In the middle were a small bunch written by hand—so intimate I felt heat rise on my neck as I read. They were dated in the months before he died. He’d signed these, Your Darling Forever, T.
They were 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.’
(this is an edited version of the story In my mother’s attic, published on this day, 2010. See about small stories about love)