as explained by Aisling Weaver:

Welcome to week five of the Writer’s Weekend. Every week I roll the dice.  And the prompt will be posted Friday at midnight(EST).  I invite all writers, no matter your genre or your style, to try your hand at this challenge.  Short, long, prose, poetry, I welcome all!

Your challenge…to write a piece that encompasses the nine elements shown on the dice.  Once completed, please link yourself in the comments and crow your success on twitter under the hashtag #WeekendWriter!  If you don’t have a blog to post to, please feel free to post it in the comments!

So…without further due…here’s the challenge!

 

letter

I was in the library when I found it.

Well, I say “library”.  Really, it was the smallest room in the house to still have a fireplace.  There was just enough room in there for an armchair, a side table, and the bookshelves which lined the walls, stretching up to the ceiling.  The shelves were crammed to bursting with my sister’s lifetime’s collection.  Tatty old paperbacks jostled for space with first editions (some of them even signed), and limited print-run treasures.

When Jude and Giles had returned from his posting at the British Embassy in Cairo, they had to buy a house.  Jude’s one stipulation was that she had somewhere to keep her beloved books.  Giles had indulged her in this, but with his typical half-measures.  And so Jude ended up with this tiny but cosy room as her sanctuary – the only place in the entire rambling old house that was hers, and hers alone.  The place she could escape to and just be herself, the Jude she and I knew was inside her – buried under the layers and layers of perfect housewife, mother, and embassy arm-candy.

I once asked her why she had married Giles.  It was a drunken, sisterly evening in front of the fireplace in the big living room.  Giles was working away for the weekend and, for a change, I had a free weekend to come and visit my little sister, to keep her company.  And to see my gorgeous twin nephews who were, by that time, tucked up snug and warm in bed.

She looked at me a bit sadly and said, “Hon, what choice did I have?  You were the one with the brains and the academic prowess.  What did I have?  A pretty face and people skills.”  Her lip had  curled in the closest I ever saw her come to disdain.  “And no bloody idea what I wanted to or even could do with myself.  Then along came Giles.  He had looks, success and money.  And he was kind to me.  How was I to know he was a boring old fart?  And, really, what does that matter?  We’re comfortable, and we rub along well enough, I don’t want for anything…”  She had trailed off with a wistful sigh as her gaze turned inwards.  I didn’t press the issue.

It was true, I had to concede.  Jude was never the academic whizz that I turned out to be.  But she had the sort of personality that allowed her to get on with nearly everyone.  She couldn’t help it – she was almost supernaturally gifted with the ability to be interested in everyone.  Really, an ideal candidate for the wife of a man whose job it was to host parties and smooth ways.  They did work well as a team.  But that was only professionally.  Privately?  Giles appeared to love Jude.  When he noticed her, that was.  But he was so wrapped up in work…

Standing in Jude’s library, I looked out of the windows at my nephews playing cowboys and Indians around the spring-garlanded flowerbeds, and smiled at their youthful exuberance and extreme good looks.  The first really warm spring sunshine was pouring down outside, and I had a yen to go and sit out there in the sun with a trashy romance novel.  I was down for the weekend again, but Jude had unexpectedly been called away to some Women’s Institute thing or other, so I’d said that I would keep an eye on the boys for a while.  She would be back by about four, she had said, which was just about perfect.

And so, I was looking at Jude’s collection of chick lit when a letter fell out from between the pages of one that I’d picked up to take a closer look at.  It came to rest face down, and I bent to retrieve it.

Straightening, I was intrigued.  It was postmarked Cairo, and was sent around the time that they left.  Why on earth was Jude using an eight-year-old letter as a bookmark?  Curiosity and respect for my sister’s privacy hung in the balance for a moment, but I’m ashamed to say that curiosity won, and I slipped the letter from the envelope and began to read.

Once you have seen something, read something, you can never again unsee or unread that thing.  No matter how much you might wish to.

Shaking with the burden that I had just unwittingly shouldered, I looked through the window, to where my nephews were playing with enthusiasm.  I took in their thick, dark brown hair, their deep, dark eyes, straight noses, and olive complexions.

And I knew why it was that my sister had sighed so wistfully.