SEVEN POSTCARDS

Dearest Bob,

The heron is in full flight alongside the canalboat, just like the one we saw on our first trip. Then it was so sunny and warm, now just drizzle and chilly. God, I wish you here.

Love you, Sheila xx

Dear Bob,

More downs today. Beth and Gary bickered non-stop through all three locks; remember those just before the Moorhen pub. You and I laughed our way through them, our playful giggles no doubt both a balm and irritation to fellow travellers. Much better than the rotten language and atmosphere permeating the deck and tow-path today.

Your one and only, Sheila xx

Hi Bob!

At last the sun and as promised I took out the painting set you bought for me. Thank you again! I think I’ve captured your likeness and spirit very well, although the colours smudged a smidgen. No, neither wine nor river water alas, rather tears. My eyes and my life still blurred, awash and adrift.

With all my love, Sheila xx

Bob,

You won’t believe it! I sold a sketch! I can just imagine your guffaw followed by your proud bear hug. The picture? A fair representation of the humpback bridge near Beasley lock. Oh, the tunnels we go through and this time no songs to echo inside them; our dear kind friends would be mortified if I broke out into ‘Three Little Maids’! That’s just between you and I!

Loving you always, Sheila xx

Dearest Bob, history buff,

You would have loved to wander around the ‘castle’ again as pictured on the front. Or as I see them, a heap of ruins, just stones. Last time I felt an ethereal presence. Do you remember? Now it all seems drab … dead. Oh dear, I fear I’m becoming a morose travelling companion. Three is such an awkward number.

Missing you, Sheila xx

Bob,

Laughter and smiles today! Ten locks successfully negotiated, without a sour word. Then pub lunch at the Keeper’s Inn! We all raised a glass for your birthday. Bother, I didn’t mean to cry then. Hate that you’re not here.

Lovingly yours, Sheila xx

My dear soulmate, husband, best friend, my Bob!

Home tomorrow! A bittersweet return. As the lone oak tree on the postcard, so am I — truly alone. Two months of crushing grief, loneliness, of missing you, our life together. Your spirit has been with me every day of the trip, it always will be. Though I’ll always treasure our time together, our memories, I must forge ahead with my own life.

RIP dearest Bob, our love will last into eternity. Sheila xx

©Annika Perry, 2021

The above piece was inspired by Writing Magazine’s exercise in which to write a story in seven postcards. All seven postcards to be from to the same person to the same recipient.

NB. All photos from Pixaby.

111 thoughts on “SEVEN POSTCARDS

  1. A simple but very effective way to tell a tale. As a widow of one year, I haven’t revisited any of our holiday spots, only in photos, not sure when I would in normal times and definitely not with Beth and Gary, that made me laugh!

    1. Janet, I’m glad that the two quirky friends could give you a laugh and I am so sorry for your loss. I was aware as I wrote the piece that it would touch readers differently and hope it would show the respect for people in grief. hugs xx

  2. A beautiful and very moving story, Anika. You capture the atmosphere and the feelings very well in such a short piece. Memories can be beautiful and sad at the same time. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Olga! ❤️ I enjoy the challenge of such short fiction pieces to encapsulate as much as possible but within a natural and flowing framework. How true about the duality of memories but life without them would be unbearable. Wishing you a lovely weekend. xx

  3. absolutely beautiful, Annika. perfectly captures the “better to have loved & lost than never loved at all” sentiment as well as how our beloveds are continually in our hearts…

    1. Thank you so much, Da-al! I often reflect on the power of love, the overwhelming joy it can give us and yes, the depth of sadness and sorrow is always there too. It means a lot that you saw so much in this piece!

  4. Oh, beautiful and poignant ! I love, love the art of letter writing. And your postcards are skillfully written.

    p.s. I just realized that I no longer receive your latest posts in my inbox. 😦 I thought you were taking some kind of break. I’ll investigate what happened with my subscription.

    1. Me too!! I wrote letters galore as young and at university and do miss it! However, my three friends from university and I send postcards to each other when away on trips – a joy to write and receive plus a pretty decoration for the kitchen wall! I’m so glad you liked the piece.

      Khaya, the problem with WP unfollowing people seems to be increasingly common and the same has happened to me. It’s good you noticed and you’ve reminded me to check my subscriptions!

  5. That’s a challenging prompt, and of course you rose up and above it, soared really, “showing” the heartache of the one left behind. So well done, and I’m glad she is ready to move on (not away: her husband/soulmate will always be with her).

    1. Exactly! Not moving away but on with her life. I know people who have lost loved ones, found new partners but their first soulmate is still with them! A new soulmate will always be understanding!

      Initially, it sounded like a challenging prompt but I knew immediately where I wanted to start and after that, the piece (or rather Sheila) wrote the rest! I love it when I’m not quite sure of the end until about halfway through … pure magic! Pam, as a gifted writer yourself, it means a lot that you liked and saw the depth of the piece. x

      1. Your postcards work so well because you allowed Sheila to do the writing. Yes, pure magic. Also, one of my best friends lost her husband to early onset Alzheimer’s six years ago. I wasn’t sure she’d recover. But two years ago she met a man through her bicycling group and she swears that her husband sent him to her. ❤ They are now engaged….

    1. It is strange how one can read or see a certain thing and then suddenly notice it everywhere! 😀 I’ve never heard of Narrowboat Summer but it seems lovely and definitely on my list of books to read! I’ve gone on quite a few canal boats and it is very special – and it was good being able to draw on that emotion and experience for this post. So glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I agree, epistolary fiction is wonderful and unique! I’ve written in form of longer letters before but love this writing prompt!

    1. Awws, that’s great, Jacquie! Initially, I hadn’t thought of this as a tribute to Bob but you are so right – just so! I wanted to capture their love, her loss and how Sheila can unite her grief and life again.

  6. I was wondering halfway through the postcards why Sheila was traveling alone, Annika. This is a great writing exercise. Before email, text, WhatsApp, I wrote postcards to quite a few people because I wanted to share my travel experience with them. It’s so sad when one wants to share the excitement with the spouse, he or she is not there. Probably continue t write the postcards would be therapeutic for griefing. Well done, Annika!

    1. Miriam, the art of letter-writing has sadly diminished but luckily postcard writing survives a bit better. My friends and I always scribble some to one another when out on trips – and last year from our locality just for fun!😀

      It’s great to hear how you could feel something unsettling within the postcards and yes, I imagined the trip and the writing of these as a form of therapy and healing for Sheila as she restarts her life alone.

      Thank you so much for your thoughts, Miriam! They mean a lot!

      1. I find writing very therapeutic, Annika, especially when I keep the writing to myself. I could search deep into my heart and be honest with myself when writing.

        I’m glad to hear you and your friends write postcards to each other. How precious, Annika! 🙂

  7. What an interesting and clever prompt, Annika, and your response is absolutely beautiful and moving. This line tugged at the heart strings: As the lone oak tree on the postcard, so am I — truly alone.
    I felt her grieving and her strength at the end. You did such a beautiful job! 💗

    1. Bless, … Lauren, thank you so much. It was an unusual prompt and hence intrigued me right away! It means a lot that you found it both beautiful and moving – just what I hoped to convey. The lone oak tree line is inspired by a single oak that is in the middle of a field nearby – I walked past it almost every day for a year and never tire of gazing up at the majestic foliage. I feel it deserves its own postcard!

  8. What an interesting, exercise, Annika. You pulled it off beautifully, sharing tidbits of memories together that gave a “postcard” of a relationship. I wondered about halfway through if Bob had passed. There was a delicate balance of loss and “life must march on” in Sheila’s cards. Well done.

    1. Diana, I feel there is a better title for my post in your comment ‘Postcards of a Relationship’! 😀 Just so. It means lot that you feel I’ve managed that all important balancing act in Sheila’s emotions as she mourns yet realises she must move on in life. Often the magazine prompts leave me uninspired, not this time and it’s been a joy to share my scribblings here!

    1. Laura, I loved all the various elements of the format … and realised I became carried away as I started my ninth card! 😀 Immediate editing ensued. Grief is such an insular existence and I wanted to capture that even in the midst of her kind friends and during the journey Sheila becomes aware that only she has to ability to move on with life.

      1. What stands out to me here in your response to my comment is the perspective of a true professional writer – Knowing when editing is imminent and that it is an essential component to the ‘perfect’ end product! Brava!
        Reading your comment here, I realize that the ‘insular’ aspect of your piece was subliminally supported by the actual format…very cool!!!!!

    1. Rosaliene, thank you … I felt emotional writing the last one and until I started it not quite sure of its direction! I love those moment when another voice ‘takes over’ and my hand just scribbles away!

  9. That was beautiful and heartfelt, Annika. It reminded me of me. After my husband died, my daughters and I took a trip that included England, France and Spain. Like Sheila, I had some episodes of crying.

    1. Nicki, you honour me with your beautiful comment, words and sharing your experience of grief on travels with your daughters. May your precious moments with them, your tears, been a release and new beginning for you all. Hugs xx❤️

  10. You just made me cry, Annika. This was a profoundly touching and masterful piece of storytelling. What a fabulous idea to write it as postcards; I would have never thought of doing such a thing. I love the story, as well. Finding the strength to move forward and continue living when your heart has been ripped apart is not easy, but it’s necessary. We must carry on. Bravo!

    1. Wow!! Tanya, your comment has me in tears – it is amazing when someone ‘gets’ one’s writing exactly, seeing into its heart. Bless, thank you so much – this means SO much to me.

      As always the ending was unknown to me until towards the end … I felt Sheila’s strength grow during the trip as she slowly found the courage to live on …

      Yes, it is an unusual format and I often leave the exercises but this one inspired me straightaway and I just had to start writing it! Sheila was just there, in front of me!

      So lovely to see you here, Tanya and hope you’re doing okay! xx

  11. This is a very touching and evocative story Annika. I like the seven postcard format and have just recently been wondering about canal boats as a new and fun way to travel. I understand they’re getting very popular, even as a way to live.

    1. Thank you so much, Brad! 😀 Canalboats have been very popular here in the UK for decades and a beautiful way to enjoy the peace of the countryside whilst pootling along, stopping at pubs along the way, entering towns right in the centre! Are the canalboats like this where you live? What are the waterways like? Yes, some do live on them fulltime as well here! Hope you have a great time if you decide to travel on a canal trip!😀

    1. Just what I thought, Mary! Often I find the exercises uninspiring but this had my muse ticking before I’d even finished reading and I immediately picked up a pen and notebook!

      Mary, just to say I’m thinking of you and been checking to see if you’ve had a chance to write a post. hugs xx

      1. I haven’t written a post for a while. I felt I’d nothing to report as I’m still waiting for the PET scan, which has been cancelled three times this week. Fingers crossed it will happen tomorrow.

    1. Jo, they are magical and I’ve been on quite a few … yet only steered for a for minutes! I don’t know why men seem so enamoured with the task! Yes, I imagine Sheila felt the same and hence tagged along on her friends’ trip.

    1. Darlene, sadly a situation many have and will find themselves in and I can imagine a first trip away like that will have one reflecting equally as much on the past as living in the present.

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