Tilly was beautiful, as I remember her, with the sunset gilding her hair, her cheek warmed by the fading summer glow, her blue eyes blue and vacant.
For of course she was unhappy, feeling the wind toss her tresses across her left shoulder, the far off distance a murky green out of focus behind her – it seemed like she was in a painting of melancholy, and she was – at least in her heart. So she told me.
Dear Tilly, or Talia McEvans. Where have you gone?
Where are the days when we used to stroll carefree across the gentle rolling slopes below our homes, youth in each footstep, a carefree smile on our faces. How we used to smile at each other, unconscious of the rarity we were beaming at each other.
While the world without waged war.
Of course our parents were never trying to keep us ignorant, we had subscriptions we found stuffed in our mailboxes nearly every day. And yet, we never knew the true extent of human affairs, our tangled human legacy in its sordidness. Yes its sordidness – that was scrubbed clean from the facts in our textbooks (dear Mrs Tanner wasn’t to blame). We never knew the depths of humanity we had inherited. And so we played.
That was until that fateful day – do you remember? – when that whistling wind blew to a sudden angry scream, and a house on Norway Row exploded. Black smoke above the wooded hill. People screaming, a tension we had never felt in the air.
We ran. And ran. And ran. Helter-skelter, pounding pavement, barely thinking except of the vague rumours in the newspapers that had finally come true.
It was worse than we were prepared for. Neither of our families was hurt – and yet we all were somehow, inside.
The smell of war refused to leave, even two weeks after clean up. We helped move some broken pottery, and the main pieces were taken away by the men. The ambulances ghosted in and out, first wailing, then silent. We attending church service with everyone – people we had not seen in ages sat in the same pews as us. The pastor spoke, of something tragic and meaningful that had happened to Christ in the past – I barely listened before, and even now… but I felt better after that somehow. I understood a little more.
And you, you suddenly told me you had to leave… that you were going away, with your family, because your father wanted to move you guys further in where it was safer…
I never told you how that stuck me. Felt like betrayal. But I stuck by you, and your memory, of the times we shared.
Do you remember me, Tilly?
Do write me, won’t you? It’s been years.