Dear You

This entry placed 4th in the Dispatch 2020 creative writing competition

Dear You,

It has been twenty-one months since I last saw you, which means it has been twenty-one months and seven days since we last spoke, since you last could talk.

What has happened between now and then? I went to America. I lived in a place you would have thought was insane. Too many scruffy kids and hairy, topless boys playing revolutionaries. You would have tutted and laughed but you would have also been, secretly, quite proud. I fell in love, too. I met a nice young man who is very smart. You wouldn’t have met him, though, because within two months I would be home. I don’t think you would have liked this pandemic.

I read lots of books. I still haven’t braved Trollope. I would feel your hands on every page and I can’t do that quite yet. I went into your room not long after the fact. Your bed was still there and on the bedside table was a little tissue box which was decorated with a white doily.

The leaves are falling off trees and the ground looks like a chocolate box splayed open. When you walk the ground crunches. There is another thing, I didn’t want to tell you. I know you always liked animals more than you liked humans. Dolly went in January. I wasn’t there. I am so sorry I wasn’t there. I saw it happen on FaceTime. She couldn’t walk. She licked cream cheese off a spoon. Her fur looked so soft but I couldn’t touch it. Maisy is devastated. I didn’t know pain like that. Why is it different when a dog dies? Why is it so easy to cry, so uncontrollable? Someone, your nephew perhaps, brought a puppy to your funeral. It whined the whole way through. At your memorial it was a dog. It was taken out halfway through. I don’t know what you would have made of that. A dog at a funeral.

There was another thing I wanted to run past you. It’s about your tombstone. It’s very big. We buried you next to your dad, just liked you asked. The Tombstone, it’s perfect, but it sticks out. It is like a big new tooth. It will grey and sink over time I’m sure. We were all worried. My sisters and I. We walked around nearby fields and talked about you. I saw a beautiful sheep. I wondered if you were afraid. I remember it so clearly, the end. I really try to not let those memories rub out the real you but I’d never experienced death before and now it’s hard not to see you lying there. I’ll never forget the last time I saw you. You were gone. You still looked regal—your head was tied together and I kissed you. You were so cold. I felt the coldness on my lips for the rest of the day. I was numb. I miss you.

I’m a bit lost to tell you the truth. Everyday feels the same. I wake up, I work, I eat, I walk, I watch TV, and I go to sleep. Sleep does not come as easily as it used to. Now I lie in bed trying not to think for at least an hour every night. In the morning I struggle to wake up. I zombie about my day. I drink lots of coffee. I wonder how different our lives must have been. I never got to ask you what you did when you were my age. I would have loved to know your daily routine. What did you eat for breakfast?

There are some things I am not happy about. I don’t like what you did to mum. I didn’t learn about that until recently. I know you were a product of your generation. I know that back then that women were inextricably tied to their looks. I know you thought your self-worth could not be uncoupled from whether or not you were ‘pretty’. Times have changed. A woman can be more than that now. I don’t pluck my eyebrows or bleach my moustache for men. I do it for me. I wonder if you’d recognise me now. I suppose your leaving shaped me. I probably wouldn’t be the me I am now if you hadn’t left. I just wish you could have stayed a bit longer. Not that it was up to you. I’m just sorry that you were alone. I always thought that when someone left the world, some sixth sense would tell you. A pain in your arm or a jolt. I’m ashamed to say I slept the whole night through—I got woken by mum in the morning. She switched on the lights and announced it to the room. That is how I found out. Talk about a rude awakening.

I’ve taken up walking. It was something you always did. I understand why you did it. There is something freeing about watching the world change. I think it is also about being alone. You were good at that. Although I know he misses you. You weren’t really ever alone.

I feel quite alone. I don’t feel very loveable anymore. It’s a pathetic thing to admit. The world isn’t what it used to be. Sometimes I’m glad that you didn’t get to see it this way. You lived through one World War at the beginning of your life; there was no need for you to end with another.

I tried to visit your grave. A mother of a friend dropped me at the wrong church. I left flowers I picked on a lady named Barbara’s tomb. I pretended that she hadn’t been mistaken. I think it would have made you laugh.

There are some things I won’t tell you. It wouldn’t help you to know them. Some things it’s best not to say out loud, just in case you could hear them.

I’ll go now. Not much more to say. Everything to say. My fingers are stiffening. I have more books to read, to finish, like I promised you I would.

All my Love,


Rose Brookfield
Rose Brookfield
Rose Brookfield is a twenty-two year old English Literature student at the University of Edinburgh currently writing her dissertation about the unlikely roles dogs play in literature. She aspires to create a more sustainable and equal food chain that serves all members of society, and become a first-generation regenerative farmer and a writer.