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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017
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Geoffrey Winch
Felpham, West Sussex, England


A Letter Not Written

When I told her I was off to California for a few weeks, Linda insisted I should spend a couple of days with Anne and Gordon, her friends in Santa Barbara.

riding on his Harley
driving in his E-type Jag . . .
small adventures
memory-stored
for later recycling

But more memorable was the day I spent with Anne when she took me to visit the Old Mission. It was on the way there she told me Linda's marriage was nearly over. Believing I knew Linda well, and as she'd never hinted at such a possibility to me, I expressed my utter surprise. Anne was, however, reassuring. Linda had confided in her that she was actually carrying a torch for someone else and was confident everything would work out fine. Nevertheless, in the Mission I found myself in a sombre mood, and the artworks illuminating Christ's ultimate sacrifice were most humbling. It felt right after we left just to sit together for some time in the peaceful gardens.

As it turned out, a year or more passed after I returned home before Linda and David finally split. Linda took a new job some miles away, so moved away from Leamington. That was the biggest disappointment for me, as it put an end to the long chats we’d often shared at work if we happened to bump into one another.

Though it wasn't quite the end! Two years on, when the office Christmas party was in full swing, I was told someone was waiting to see me in one of the downstairs rooms. So I went down and was amazed to find Linda all alone. She closed the door and started telling me about her job, then about the chap she'd been dating and how he'd asked her to marry him, and that they were to get engaged on New Year's Day. But she really took me aback when she went on to say she didn't want to get engaged if there was any hope of us ever getting together. For over eight years, she explained, she'd been wanting to tell me that the first time I walked into her office back in '73 (she recalled the exact date and time) it had, for her, been love at first sight.

words
from the past
ignite
when touched by a flame
fuelled by love

She asked if my own marriage was ever likely to come unstuck? In a moment we were embracing, and she was kissing me deeply. Yes, my marriage had been going through uncertain times; unforeseen outside influences for ages had been gnawing away at trust. Now there was Linda loving and wanting me, and suddenly my desire for her was almost too overpowering. I hadn’t been prepared for such an eventuality, which quickly made me realise just how easy it was to be tempted. In that moment it seemed it would have been perfectly natural for me just to have gone off with her and not looked back.

After she went away, I returned to the party but spoke to no-one. I needed a drink—and had a few before groping my way home through a thick blanket of fog that had descended.

I've never seen or heard from Linda since, but I do, of course, often think about her and what so very easily might have been. I often think, as well, that I ought to have written to Anne and Gordon to explain from my point of view why things turned out the way they did. I still have those pleasant memories, though, of the two days I stayed with them.

their neighbours' house
shrouded, fumigated
for termites—
necessary actions
to preserve a home

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