I miss you already. Give me a few days to settle and I will write more.
Kiss the babies for me.
I love you the most,
Six months later
‘How about a tiramisu tonight for dessert? The guests will love that. Last time you made it they couldn’t get enough of it.’ Aunt Katherine asks cheerily over breakfast.
‘That sounds great.’ Tiramisu is my favorite. When I first moved in with Aunt Katherine, I enrolled in a local cooking class to keep myself busy. I’ve learned so much, especially that making desserts is my favorite. A few weeks ago I started baking large round sugar cookies with a white icing and then writing short inspirational quotes in colored icing on top. At first, it was really hard to write calligraphy but then I found some food pens and thin food paintbrushes. After a while I got the hang of it, and now they look really pretty and professional. The guests love them so much that my aunt is now letting me box them up for the guests to purchase and take home with them.
My dad has driven here to visit a few times, and it’s been nice. He’s calmer. Not as worried. He’s stopped looking at me like he’s waiting for me to spontaneously combust. We walk the grounds and Aunt Katherine makes us tea and we have a lot of long talks. Some turn into arguments of frustration, and others actually seem to lead us into what I like to think of as progress and hope for the future.
My grandmother calls me often and she knows the truth now. Being a romance author, she’s much more accepting of Tor and I being together and actually seems fascinated with our story. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up writing a book on us. She tells me to give my father time to calm down and get used to the idea of Tor and I as a couple. She seems to think he’ll come around.
I’m not so sure, but I hold on to the glimmer of hope.
Months of not seeing Tor has been hard. Actually, hard is not even close to describing what it feels like. It’s torturous and I cry myself to sleep almost every night as I sleep in one of his t-shirts because it smells like him. He’s always the first person I want to talk to when something happens in my life, whether it’s good or bad, or just silly. The little compass inside me always points to him, and that’s something I needed to find out on my own.
We don’t ever text or call, but we do write to each other. I use my fancy fountain pens and parchment paper, while he sticks to mostly notebook paper and ballpoint pens, and we send them through the mail. It’s romantic. It’s helped build patience. It’s helped us choose our words with care and truth, because writing in ink does that. There is no backspace. There are no abbreviations. We pour our hearts out to each other more than we ever have. We share our fears and dreams with each other on paper in even more depth than we did in person. There is a safety in writing, in putting the words out there and giving the recipient time to absorb, ponder, and reply.
He writes me poetry.
We fall deeper in love.
The space didn’t create distance, it brought us closer.
At the beginning of my third month at the Inn, a limo pulled up in front of the Inn, and a chauffeur came out carrying a small rabbit cage. Inside was an adorable little black and white Lionhead bunny with a mop of fur on its head and markings that make him look like he has a mustache. He came with a note taped to the side of his cage:
‘This little guy came into the shelter. Apparently, he was a gift for a five-year-old boy but they didn’t realize how much work was involved. I knew he had to be yours. I’ve been calling him Wyatt.’
I fell in love with him all over again for gifting me with another adorable bunny.
I knew from our letters that Tor wasn’t dating. He made it clear he had no interest in doing so, and never would.
As for me, I had a few friendly conversations with the landscaper, who was good-looking, nice, and very tan. He lacked the tattoos and shaggy hair that I now lusted for, though. I agreed to have lunch with him at Aunt Katherine’s insisting, mostly to see what it would feel like to spend time with another guy. Would there be butterflies? Would I want to see him again? She urged me to find out.
Those answers were no. No butterflies came to visit.
I tried again with a twenty-something-year-old guest named Adam who stayed for two weeks while he worked on a journalism article. Adam was tall, well built, very polite, and had a nice sense of humor. I liked him a lot more than landscaper dude, and Adam loved my calligraphy enough to ask me to write his name out for him on a piece of canvas. And my cookies. I think he ate about fifty of my cookies. He invited me to join him for dinner a few times during his stay, and the conversation flowed freely and comfortably, but it stayed platonic.
‘Do you want to go for a walk on the beach?’ He asked me one night after dinner.
‘Sure,’ I replied, a bit nervously. It was dusk, and somehow being in the sun felt safer and less intimate than being anywhere near any degree of the darkness of nighttime.
As we walked, he held my hand, and it felt nice, but his hands were very soft. Almost too soft. But nice.
Just nice. Nothing special at all. No sparks. No butterflies.
And then he stopped walking and turned to me. ‘I really like you, Kenzi,’ he said quietly, and then leaned in to kiss me. And at the last minute, I turned and his lips landed on my cheek.
I didn’t mean to do it. It just happened. But it was enough to disappoint him and make him check out the next day. I found the small canvas with his name written on it in the trashcan of his room.
It was enough to prove to me that I didn’t want anyone else. No matter how nice or cute or smart they were. None of it mattered.
My heart belonged to Tor.
There are so many degrees of silence. It can be comforting. It can be deafening. It can be foreboding. It can be empty. It can be the space between two sounds.
Or between two people.
Tor and my father haven’t spoken at all, and that worries me. I was hoping they would hash the situation out by now. Verbally and not physically. I want them to repair their friendship. I need my father to forgive Tor so we can all move forward with a new slate.
I don’t want to think about where it’s going to leave us all if he doesn’t.
For my nineteenth birthday, a small box came, and I recognized the writing on the address label immediately.
I took it to my room to open it alone, and Aunt Katherine smiled knowingly as I left her after dinner to go spend time with this box. I haven’t received a letter from Tor in a month, and with each day that passed, I grew more and more nervous that he had finally just given up, or that my father had said or did something to push him further away.
I open the box slowly, and inside is an old bottle, with a rolled up piece of paper inside. A small gasp of happiness escapes me, remembering our conversation that day on the beach about messages in a bottle.
Pulling the cork out, I tip the bottle over and the paper falls out, along with a single penny. The note is tied with thin red twine that I slide off, and then gently unroll the parchment paper.
Tears spring to my eyes when I see he has also written with a fountain pen.
Tor…you do everything so right.
Taking a breath, I read his words:
Walk in the rain with me. Kiss me in the misty fog.
Let me hold you all night under the hush of the wind.
I’m waiting for you. Throwing pennies…making wishes.
I’m wishing only for you. Always for you.
Come back to me.
I’ll fight for you. I’ll fight for us.
Wish for me, too…and I’ll make it come true.
I love you forever and longer.
P.S. My huge bottle had $6,025 in it and this single penny. Make a wish.
P.P.S. I’m sorry it took me so long to write, I hurt my hand at the shop.
The frayed parchment paper is soft in my fingers, perfectly worn and aged, and I’m very aware that he chose this texture of paper, this color of ink, with careful consideration. Because he knows how much it means to me. Because he knows me. Like no else ever has or ever could.
I read his words over and over again; long after I have them memorized and they’re burned into my heart and soul, yet I still hold the handwritten note and stare at the words until they blur. I can hear his voice saying them; deep, yet soft and sensual. Raw.
I like touching the paper that I know he held in his hands. The hands that had once held me, caressed me, ignited passion and desire in me so deep that I still can’t forget. And I don’t ever want to.
The faint scent of his cologne drifts from the paper. Or maybe I’ve just wished for it so much that I’ve imagined it. Either way, it’s comforting and stirs memories.
So many memories…
Reading his words, all the feelings rush back like acid on a wound that won’t heal. He’s my other half; the one who makes my heart beat. The man who makes me feel every feeling that could possibly be felt—and then some. The man who held me and loved me through almost every moment of my life. I have no past without him and no future without him. Quite simply, he is my world. There is no way I will ever move on from a love like ours. We belong to each other. I’ve always known it, and I am utterly exhausted from fighting it, denying it, keeping myself from it, and hiding it – as I’m sure he must be, too.
It’s time for me to go back home to my love and to my heart. Time is precious, and I don’t want to give any more up.
I take the penny and walk down the beach to the edge of the water, and I toss it in.
I wished for Tor.
I wished for us.
I wished for my father to accept us.
I wished for everyone to accept us.
I wished for my Mom.
I wished for happiness.