A Well-Tempered Heart
The deep blue morning sky was clear as a bell the day my life lurched off course. It was a crisp, cold Friday, the week before Thanksgiving. I have often wondered whether I ought to have seen it coming. How could I have missed it? How could have failed so utterly to anticipate such a calamitous event? Me off all people? A woman who hated surprises. Who prepared meticulously for every meeting, every trip, even a weekend excursion or a casual dinner with friends. I was never one to leave anything to chance. I found the unexpected almost intolerable. Spontaneity held no attraction for me.
Amy insisted that there must have been early portents, that there always are. Except that we are so engrossed in our day-today lives, prisoners of our own routines, that we forget to look for them.
The little details that speak volumes.
According to her we are each our own greatest mystery, and our life’s work is to solve ourselves. None of us ever succeeds, she says, but it is our duty to follow the trail. Regardless of how long it is or where it might lead.
I had my doubts. Amy’s beliefs and my own often diverged. Which is not to say that I did not see her point in this case, at least to a certain extent. There may well have been the occasional incident over the past several months, things that ought to have raised an alarm. But how much time can we devote to eavesdropping on our inner selves just on the off chance that we might pick up some token or clue, the key to some puzzle or other?
I was not one to regard every physical aberration as symptomatic of some disturbance to y spiritual equilibrium.
Those little red pimples on my neck – the ones that developed within a few days into a painful, burning rash that no doctor could explain, the ones that vanished a few weeks later as suddenly as they had appeared – those might have been caused by anything. Likewise the occasional rushing in my ears. The insomnia. The increasing irritability and impatience, directed mostly at myself. I was well acquainted with both feelings, and I attributed them to the workload at the office. The price everyone in the firm hat to pay, the price we were all willing to pay. I had no complaints.
The letter was sitting there in the middle of my desk.
In a slightly crumpled light-blue airmail envelope, the kind one hardly uses anymore. I recognized his handwriting at once. No one else I knew lavished such care on penmanship.
He treated each correspondence as a miniature artwork. He gave each swooping line meticulous attention worthy of calligraphy. Each letter of each word was a gift. Two pages, tightly packed, every sentence, every line set to paper with the devotion and passion felt only by someone for whom writing is a treasure beyond all price.
ON the envelope an American stamp. He must have entrusted it to some tourist; that was the fastest and safest way. I looked at the clock. Our next meeting was scheduled to begin in two minutes, but curiosity got the better of me. I opened the envelope and hastily scanned the first few lines.