The driveway is muddy, and she feels water invade her boots as her feet sink. Things like this used to bother her. Not anymore. Not since the priest knocked on her door with the news of Henry’s death.
Going into town is unbearable, at best people look at her with longing eyes, wanting to help but not wanting to intrude, at worst, they do intrude. Thus for the last three weeks the longest walk she’s taken has been to her letterbox, which she usually finds full of letters of condolence from people who just don’t matter. The rain is heavy enough to pick a note from the tin lid of the letterbox with every drop. She lifts the lid and reaches in fingers wide ready to receive the usual bulk of envelopes. Her fingers close on one. It’s a nice change. Now she won’t have to spend the afternoon sending kind regards she doesn’t mean.
She raises the envelope to meet her green eyes. It is muddied brown. Scrawled in Henry’s messy cursive is her name: Mrs Elizabeth Jones. She flips it over and her legs give way as she sees his name. The mud swallows the sound of her impact. She tears the envelope and the first thing she sees is the date of writing, it is the day he died.
‘My Dear Beth, I’m sorry but I haven’t got much time, I got ten minutes before I have to scale down to the landing boat. They can it the sardine can. No one finds it funny. It’s not a pleasant place to be. Grown men crying like schoolgirls. Nobody says nothing to stop them; I guess we all got our own ways of coping. Me? I think of you. I close my eyes and think of what a perfect life we have, of how most all that’s good in me has been cultivated by you. Beth, I’m staring the law of averages in the face; I know that all but five or six of us aren’t going to make it off that beach. So I’m just going think about us. I’ll be thinking of us all the way in. And if the law of averages aren’t on my side today, well, you’ll be what I think as I bow before the dying light. I love you Elizabeth Jones. I know you know it, but I thought I’d write it this one last time. Yours forever. Henry.”