Jeremy was not one to receive letters, so when a drab brown envelope was delivered to the house, it came as quite a shock. Delicately slitting through the top, he emptied its contents onto his armchair, revealing a glossy sheet of paper with a backdrop of daintily printed clouds. As he instantly recognized the flowing writing covering most of the page, Jeremy let out a heavy sigh.
Perplexed but more than a little curious, Jeremy fell slowly into his armchair, nearly crushing the letter before he placed it onto his lap. As he turned the folded paper over and over in his hands, a wary expression descended over his face. Finally gathering the courage, he unfolded the paper, flattened it with a brisk sweep of his hand, and began to read. It read:
I am sure that you thought this day would never come, but I have sent this letter to inform you that it has. I have been released from St. Jones. I understand that you may not view this decision in the good favor that I have, but I can assure you that everything has been taken care of, and I have received the attention I needed. I realize this may be difficult for you, it is not an easy situation for myself either, but I would like to meet with you to discuss things. Hopefully you will be able to see in me what I know inside myself, which is that I am ready and very willing to restart our life together. Please contact me; my cell phone number has not changed.
Jeremy could not help but expel a long sigh as he let the letter fall to the carpet. Allowing his head to sink into his hands, he stayed in place for a long while as he worked to control the quivers reverberating through his body.
When he finally rose from his chair and composed himself, he walked up the stairs into the small storage area by the master bedroom. Impatiently skimming through the collection of antiques and labeled boxes, he finally found the one he was searching for. Cracking open the sealed top, he looked inside and, relieved, pulled out an old mahogany picture frame. He quickly wiped the dust from the faded frame and abjectly stared at the picture. “Jeremy and Andrea, 1989”, it read. Exhaling slowly, Jeremy did something that betrayed his normal personality. Pulling his phone from his pocket, he called her.
The call was brief, and in short time Jeremy was showering, changing his clothes, and shaving his face. As he made coffee, doubts began to repopulate his mind. Taking in deep breaths, he focused on steadying his shaking hands and taking out two brown mugs from the cupboard. Setting them on the table, he turned quickly to grab the coffee, and placed it on the table as well. It was at this moment that the doorbell rang. Almost wincing, Jeremy straightened up, and proceeded towards the doorway.
He opened the door to a middle-aged woman with brown hair, blue eyes, and of taller than average height. She was carrying only a small yellow bag, as well as an air of brazen but welcoming confidence.
Jeremy paused and stared at her for a long while. Snapping out of his trance, Jeremy apologized abashedly, realizing he had not yet allowed her into the house. He stepped aside and she walked into the foyer. Staring up at him, she paused, and then wrapped her arms around him. Taken aback, Jeremy slowly reciprocated. It was not until she motioned away that he realized he had been holding her for a very long time.
So they sat. And they talked. And Jeremy realized he had missed this woman. She explained calmly that her mother was holding most of her belongings, and that, if he consented of course, she could return them to their home in due time.
“It’s nice to see you, really,” she said with the heartwarming touch he had missed.
“You too,” he admitted, “I was afraid you would be like…before. And you know I couldn’t do that, it was too painful. But that’s irrelevant now, the point is you’re back.”
She gestured to the yellow bag, saying, “I bought something for you on the way here, as a way to say I’m sorry about before, and to hopefully instill some faith in me.”
Jeremy reacted playfully, and with excitement he opened the bag. It contained a 16-hole chromatic harmonica, beautifully polished and gleaming.
Although his eyes said everything, he explained, “You didn’t have to Andrea. I know you didn’t mean to break the other. But thank you.”
Looking pleased, she got up to leave, but Jeremy swept her back into a quick hug. They agreed to meet the following weekend, which would allow both of them adequate time to reflect on the recent events, and ensure that they were both ready for what was to come ahead.
Pacing the hallway, Jeremy felt strangely fulfilled. Of all the possible outcomes the evening could’ve turned to, this was the most satisfying he could have imagined. He went upstairs and filed away the harmonica. It was little consolation to know he had been returned only one of the things Andrea had taken away from him during her episodes, but it was all he needed. Returning downstairs, he went to place a record on the record player, and then resumed his position in his armchair as the voice of Van Morrison came lofting through the room singing Someone Like You, their wedding song.
The following weekend, the two met at a café close to Jeremy’s house and once again shared a coffee. Their conversation was light, but the mood hinted at something deeper being communicated. At the end Jeremy knew Andrea was waiting for a definitive answer, so he gave her one.
It was a bright early Sunday morning when Andrea arrived with her mother’s car containing all of her belongings. It took a decent amount of time to carry all of the necessities into the house and distribute them to the best of their memory, but the task was made enjoyable by their communal interest in the past year of each other’s lives. Jeremy felt unusually chatty during this time, until he realized this was his actual personality, and not the introverted man he had become in Andrea’s absence. Putting the last of her clothes into the closet, Jeremy exclaimed in accomplishment,
“I’m glad that’s done, we make a good team don’t you think?”
She nodded vigorously in approval, saying, “I was thinking we could see a movie tonight. You know, try and redevelop our old romance?”
“Of course. It sounds like a great first evening.”
“And I’ve also booked us some art classes! I knew you wouldn’t like it, but I’ve always wanted to learn.”
Jeremy rolled his eyes, but digressed. They walked downstairs, and Andrea put some coffee on as she stared out the back window.
“We really should repaint the porch when we get a chance.”
“I know. It’s something that’s seemed to escape my attention recently. But don’t worry, we’ll get to it this summer,” Jeremy finished as he joined her.
Once the coffee was ready, Jeremy poured each of them one mug full, and they proceeded to sit outside on the deck patio chairs, observing the neatly trimmed lawn in the cool autumn air. Andrea initiated the conversation, bringing up a friend she had met at her hospital. Jeremy smiled, engaged by her humorous storytelling. When it was his turn, he told her that not much had changed in the last year, aside from her absence.
“Well that’s good news to hear. Oh and I almost forgot, we’re going to see the ballet in two weeks, there’s a performance down at Charlestown.”
Surprised, he asked, “When did you plan all this?”
“Last night, I thought it would be nice to get a move on with our lives, that’s all.”
Jeremy nodded. This was what starting over was all about. And he was ready to begin.
By: Spencer Nestico Semianiw