Seasoning – Part 21
Henry hated leaving Hannah so abruptly but he was afraid she would sense what he was feeling. He closed the door of his room, turned on the nightstand lamp and opened the blanket chest at the foot of his bed. Underneath layers of linens he found a small, silk-wrapped bundle. As he gently unwrapped it, he fell to his knees. Tears streamed down his face as he gazed at her lovely face frozen in a sweet smile behind a layer of framed glass.
“Oh Alice,” he whispered, “what must you be thinking? I feel like such a fool. I don’t know what’s come over me. Can you ever forgive me, my darling girl, for straying?”
Henry was startled by a faint rustling in the room as a cool waft of perfumed air caressed his face. “Am I dreaming?” he gasped, as he beheld the glowing specter of his beloved wife gazing at him from the corner of the room. “What is happening? Is that you, Alice? How can this be?”
“It is time Henry. It’s time to let me go,” Alice whispered, “even in life I knew there was another love who consumed you. You have found her at long last my dear Henry; the one who has always held the deepest part of your heart.”
“I don’t understand Alice. I was never unfaithful to you.”
“Oh Henry,” Alice smiled, “you were the perfect husband. I will always love you. I am so grateful for the sweetness we shared. But I was not the “one”, Henry. I was merely a stepping stone on your journey to find her. Our love was a gentle nudge to open your heart for what was to come.”
“What are you saying Alice? You were…you are the love of my life. Our love was true, was it not?”
“It was true Henry, in every sense. But it is time now. Time to let me go.” Alice’s voice and presence started to fade.
“Don’t go…oh Alice…please…” Henry begged.
With her parting breath Alice sighed, “Find the letter, my darling. I wrote it for her. For your Hannah. It’s in my secret drawer. You know the one. Be happy my sweet…” The room darkened. She was gone.
“Secret drawer?” Henry’s head was spinning, but he knew where to look. He rushed to Alice’s vanity and slid the tiny drawer under the mirror open to reveal a folded envelope. Henry slipped the flap open and removed the letter. It was indeed Alice’s beautiful handwriting that stained the pages. “I know it’s not addressed to me,” he thought, “but…” He unfolded the letter and started to read.
Dearest Lady, …