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Among the bunch of pens in the stand, she picks up the one with the least amount of ink in it.
Settling down on the chair nearby, she begins.
I won’t start this letter with your name because I couldn’t possibly write a love letter to anyone other than you. So, my dear, if you get a chance to read this, do know that this is for you.
That this could never be for anyone other than you.
They say that first love doesn’t last. They say that one’s first relationship shall always break apart.
But they’re obviously wrong.
Because our first love brought us together.
When I first saw you on those corridors of our school, trust me, I knew you were the one. For some reason that I can’t explain, you looked undeniably attractive to me. When I found out that the other girls thought the same, I gave up. I could never compare.
Ours was a school love. We were fifteen. Not adults. No longer kids. In between. Lost.
Till we found each other.
I know you won’t agree to this now but I fell for you before you fell for me.
You’ve always claimed that it was love at first sight for you and while it was the same for me, I saw you first. And so, I win.
When you asked me out that summer I turned Sixteen, I almost danced in joy. I’d been in love with you for almost a year, by then. Oh, how difficult it was, hiding it every time you waved or smiled at me, pretending like it didn’t melt my heart and turn my stomach into jelly.
So, obviously, I said yes.
My friends hated me for it. They told me I was being a fool.
They said that I needed to know you better and find out about you before I had agreed to date you.
‘Oh my god, I can’t believe you said ok! You’re practically strangers’ they sighed.
But that’s not true.
For 368 days I watched everything you did and by then I knew you pretty well.
I knew, how in recess, you always walked to the back of our school building with your two friends, one tomboyish girl in cropped sunlight hair and a geeky boy in thick black framed spectacles, and ate your lunch there, as if the rest of us didn’t matter. The others thought it was quite rude when we were crammed into that box like cafeteria like ours.
But I thought it was wonderful, how you and the two people who mattered most to you, decided to enjoy your lunch in solitude, leaving the rest of the world behind because they didn’t matter as long as your world was right beside you.
I also loved your choice of friends, though I didn’t know them.
The girl in your group was obviously an outcast, not fitting in with the rest of us who tried desperately to be ‘cool’ like the popular girls in our class. She’d just sit in a corner and sketch her life or listen to music on her own. Amongst all of us, you picked her. And that made me love you more.
The geeky boy, I’ll admit, was kind of cute. He was sweet in a very clumsy kind of way and though the other boys thought he was weird, you embraced him into your world. I thought that was magical.
Because, my dear, you most certainly were not one of them. You were every girl’s dream.
So, imagine my delight when you not only accepted my invitation to my sixteenth birthday party, but also arrived, though fashionably late, with a tiny gift wrapped box in your hand.
I tried to stay by your side that entire night but it was very difficult, especially because every other girl that was invited to my party was trying to do the same thing.
So, I gave up once again, and in the end, kept myself busy with the cake and the food.
When it was time to open my presents, I deliberately put yours away for when I would be alone. I didn’t exactly expect you to give me anything great but whatever you got for me would be special. And I didn’t want to share that with the others.
Once everyone had left, you lingered behind, making me tongue tied and awkward.
“I notice you didn’t open what I brought you.” You said, walking towards me.
It was probably the first time we had ever spoken properly.
I had smiled at you and took the box out of the drawer.
Nervously, I said “I was saving it for when I would be alone.”
“We are alone.”
Inside was a tiny teddy bear, with a note that read ‘Will you go out with me?’
My head shot up as I looked at you, wondering if this was some kind of joke.
“So…” You said, shrugging. “Will you?”
There was no turning back after that.
Throughout the years we’ve argued about who loved whom more. It was one of my most favourite fights because it was one that I’d wanted to lose.
“Obviously I love you more” You’d say. “Ask my friends!”
“No!” I’d fight back. “I love you more. Ask my heart!”
After that night, I had found out that your friends were called Natasha and Jack.
We ate lunch together every day after that, much to my friends’ dismay.
I didn’t think we would work out.
Especially because we were both so young and naive.
Some part of me doubted the possibility of this lasting forever. But most part of me deeply wished we’d stick around together and somehow, magically, make it through.
And we have, my love.
One of my most vivid memories is when you asked me to marry you.
It was a beautiful sunny day.
We were in our twenties, by then.
I had wrapped my arm around yours, my lovely green summer dress dancing in the wind as you held onto me, fiddling with the uncomfortably high neck of your gorgeous blue shirt.
You had worn that shirt for me, because I bought it for you for one of your birthdays.
It was a size smaller and I had been shocked when I found out, swearing to return it and get you another. But you refused, saying that you’d keep this one because it was the one I’d picked out for you. Ever since, I’d feel guilty every time you wore that shirt.
We were talking about the usual things, our lives and our jobs, carefully skirting around the topic of our future together, but comfortable in our minds because we had already lasted for very long together, when you stopped suddenly.
I had noticed back then how you were being fidgety, not able to listen to what I was saying, though smiling and nodding politely, like the gentleman you always were. I didn’t think much of it till you dropped down on one knee.
Gasping in shock, I remember how I had involuntarily taken a step back, making you think that I wasn’t ready. You were beginning to sweat by then. I also noticed how you took a deep breath, your wonderfully chiselled face temporarily ruined with worry lines.
“Lucy,” You started and then cleared your throat. “Lucy, I’ve seen a lot of women in my life but you have always been the only one I ever wanted to have. The first time I saw you walking in those school corridors, I fell for you. I don’t know how it happened but it did. I knew then that it would always be you. I admit, I was terrified and it took me a year to ask you out, but trust me when I say I knew. And now, I know I was right. You’re the only one for me. So, Lucy, even though my proposal is terrible, will you marry me and correct all my future speeches?”
I had smiled through my tears then, dropping to my knees and hugging you.
“I have two questions.” I had said and watched as your expressions changed to sadness.
But I had to ask them.
“Why did you pick Natasha and Jack to be your friends?”
You smiled, the question obviously confusing you because you had never expected it to be asked.
“Because they love me for who I am and are incapable of betrayal”
I understood your answer because I knew how your mother had walked away from you as a child, leaving you with your abusive stepfather. I knew that it had shattered you and broken your trust in people. I knew how important it was for someone to be loyal to you. I also knew that it would make you the best husband anyone could ever ask for.
“The second question?” You asked, the beautiful diamond ring still in your hand.
“Because, my silly girl,” He said, touching my nose. “You are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, inside and out. But mostly because you’re the only girl I know who would have ever asked me the first question.”
“Yes” I said, holding my hand out, wiping another tear.
Natasha and Jack had run out from behind the trees, screaming and jumping.
They were so genuinely happy for the two of us that I realized that you were right.
They were incapable of betrayal.
By now, Natasha had long flowing hair that hid her skinny waist and lovely hips.
She was like the sun, beautiful and unreachable. That always made me insecure, with my curly black hair and tiny eyes. But you never once looked at her the way you looked at me and that made me indescribably happy.
Jack had grown into a handsome, young man, now wearing stylish glasses and slowly building a muscular body.
I’m telling you now, even if you had fumbled with those answers, even if you had ruined the proposal and everything had gone wrong that day, I’d have said yes to you because there will never be anyone else who loves me like you do.
The night before our wedding, after we had moved in together, you confessed to me that you were worried that your friendship with Jack and Natasha would break.
“Once they find someone, like we’ve found each other,” You said, holding my hand under the sheets. “We’re going to become six people. Their spouses may not be as understanding as you are. Then what?”
“Then, we’ll find a way to keep it together. This friendship will never break. I promise”
You had squeezed my hand then and smiled.
We both didn’t know back then that Jack and Natasha would eventually find the love of their lives in each other.
“You know,” You had said, an embarrassed smile on your face. “I was always worried that you’d leave me for Jack”
I laughed till my stomach hurt.
“Oh dear” I said, still laughing. “I thought you’d leave me for Natasha”
“I promise,” You said, propping yourself up on one elbow, the seriousness on your face wiping off the laughter on mine, as you looked into my eyes. “Nothing, except death can do us apart”
I wish now that you hadn’t said that.
I’m sitting here, writing this letter to you, wondering if you’ll ever read it.
If you do, then do know that not even one word has been written without a tear in my eyes.
I will always love you, my dear.
And you were wrong that night.
Not even death can do us apart.
The pen is now empty and her heart, in comparison, is full.
She folds the letter neatly and clutches it tightly.
Getting up from the desk, hiding a few wisps of her now grey hair behind her ears, she walks over to the bed where her husband is now lying.
As she brushes the hair off his forehead, she realizes how age has taken a toll on him.
Their fifty years together have been magical but God seemed to have thought it was enough.
Another tear escaping her eyes, she holds his hand and puts the letter into it.
“Think that this letter is me” She says, kissing his forehead. “Take it with you.”
Her husband hasn’t moved in over a week.
But now, with the letter in his hand and her delicate fingers in his, he squeezes them.
She looks at him through her tears, feeling the pressure of his fingers on her own, knowing that he has breathed his last.
But what she notices is that the letter is still clutched tightly in his hand.
Walking over to the window, she protects her wedding ring with her hand, knowing that she has hardly another five years left to live.
With him by her side, five years would have passed by in a flash.
But now these five years will seem endless.
Behind her, the door opens.
Without turning, she knows it is Jack and Natasha, the only two people in the world by her side.
The three of them hug and cry, knowing that this friendship shall last a lifetime.
Just like their love did.