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A Letter Of Regret

Dearest Jacqueline,

As you are reading this you must be wondering why I’m writing to you now, why I’m writing at all.

Although we are no longer together, I felt it was necessary to send this letter to you. We didn’t have time to exchange last words. You left in such a hurry. Do you remember the first time you stepped foot in England? Our future shone ahead of us, undimmed by anything. We were so young, so foolish. I was sure you’d fit in straightaway with the English society. You did, too.

I like to believe we were happy. For the first few years, at least. We had each other and that was all we needed. But you couldn’t take it. You were restless, an exotic bird in a cage, forever seeking a way out.

I tried, darling. You know I did my best. You didn’t want to go out and attend all the social

parties and dances we were asked to. You wanted to stay with me, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t know why. You never told me. What a burden it must have been to you, a heavy stone in your heart that consumed you until you were thin; your face wan and flaxen.

The tension between us grew into a gulf so wide we were unable to cross it, even if we wanted to. We had plenty of arguments, coupled with shouting and yelling that kept our house lights on throughout the night. Crying, storming, your voice rising in pitch, shrill and piercing: ―"You don’t understand and you never will! You don’t know what it’s like to be ostracized daily" and finally a statement said so softly I thought I’d imagined it, ―"I am an outsider. I don’t belong."

In the end it was all over. Our relationship was ruined. You left me, back to your homeland. You said you were glad to leave England, to be back with your own people. I’ve been rambling on about our history, things you already know. What I want to tell you, is this: I am sorry. I hope you can feel the sincerity. I’ve finally found out the truth. Ever since you left, I’ve attended a few of the social parties you were determined we should never attend. The ladies there are slender, graceful with creamy skin. They ask me about my ―"dark, dark

wife." What could I say but that you had left me?

Their answer, no doubt meant to be comforting was: ―"Good riddance! She was no true lady, with skin so black. Why, she’s probably never had much education. Just like a mule. I’ve never understood why you fell in love with her, married her and brought her to England." Would they still say that if they knew you were from one of Africa’s most prominent families, a highly educated and wealthy lady? How dare they call you a mule simply because of your dark complexion!

Now it occurs to me that these ladies say the same things to you, in their honeyed voices. Now I know what you had to endure, how it must have hurt your pride. I didn’t know people could be so prejudiced still.

Even my own mother was thrilled to find out that you had left. She considered our marriage an elopement and was only too pleased when she found out. She laughed, and you know she hardly laughs. She didn’t think of all the times you were a good daughter-in-law to her. She didn’t remember how when she was sick and the doctor was losing hope, you tended to her every day and night and she managed to pull through, but never a word of thanks to you. She felt that a black daughter-in-law lowered the family’s social status.

Your life here was hard, but you still strove to have a smile on your face when I was with you. I understand why you left, but it hurts me so much. The prejudice that you had to face, that made you leave me, maybe in fifty years’ time, will all be gone. I hope so. I think the reason why my society was unable to accept you was because they were afraid. Afraid of accepting the new, the strange. You. Your silent struggle as an outsider trying to adapt, to fit in, but always failing will teach the world... and finally we can be together forever, with nothing in our way.


Love, Jeffrey

Firth


-Ashley

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