My Dear Sylvester, 2nd November
I write to inform you of my death. Very soon, I will depart this world for somewhere new and I fear if I don’t tell you the things I know they will be lost forever and you will be lost forever.
You were born in the hottest summer. On the hottest day. August 23rd. I had prayed you’d come sooner for the last few months I had been pregnant had been so hot that I could hardly bare it, but you came in your own time. On that day I laboured for seven hours and then you arrived. You did not cry, you stayed silent and your father feared you weren’t healthy and told me he would call for a doctor, but I refused as I feared my husband would find out. But you were breathing, slowly and surely you were breathing. I held you for hours. I cried and cried for I knew I would have to say goodbye. To you and to Francis. For very soon Miles would return from his command in the military and I would have to act as if nothing has happened in the year he had been away. For it was not my fault. He had left me and I found my only joy in gazing across the Old Oakbourne Street to see the window on the first follow ablaze and the silhouette of a young man playing a piano night after night. And one night, I dressed in a black dress and came to the house. The door was open and I called up to him and walked up the stairs and he was playing the piano. He was not in the least taken aback by my arrival, on the contrary, he told me he’d seen me before and had been playing the piano each night so I would see. He was so kind to me, and it was a cold October night so he told me not to return home, but to stay with him. He gave me brandy and before I knew it we were kissing and eventually making love.
I came back many times that month, and we grew so close. And when I found out I was expecting you I started staying with him and almost living as a couple, dreading the day Miles would return. The months marched on and I gave birth to you; my darling baby boy. I named you Sylvester for it means wild and I knew you would be wild, I would just never see it. I gave you my nightdress to remember me by and told Francis he must never tell you who I was. And my life went on; I watched you each day from the window and said your name into the sky; you became the whisper from behind the door, the cold steam which clouds the mirror and the memory which guided me through the passages of my mind. You were part of me. You were my dream and my hope.
I watched you grow from beyond the window pane. You laughed and smiled and learnt. You were so like your father. I lived with Miles and he knew nothing of you but rumours of you and me and Francis spread. As time marched ever on, Miles and I grew further and further apart and I felt he must know something of the boy from the past. But it wasn’t until you turned 15 that I received fatal news: a note from Francis saying that he was to leave the island for he had had you, my son, when he was too young and he had yet to see the world and he believed you should come with him. That night was the first night I had spoken to him since leaving you and in that conversation I begged him not to take you and so he regretfully agreed to leave you behind at The Palvine Residence.
I watched you live a life without him and without me and I watched as you formed your own life and started playing more and more music. Shortly after he left, you became intimately acquainted with 17 year old Miss Florence Parker. As I recall, you started visiting her regularly and she often spent the night at the house as I had with your father. She wasn’t the kind of girl one marries. You and she continued for a short time and she fell pregnant you believed with your child. Clara. But she wasn’t your child; she was my husband’s. Miles regularly visited Florence during the time she conceived. When you found out she was pregnant you offered her to live with you but she declined. She declined because she knew she wasn’t going to have your child. When you found out you were heartbroken but I knew you wouldn’t kill Clara. You were many things Sylvester Spence Palvine, but a murderer wasn’t one of them.
And more precisely, I know you didn’t kill Clara or Miles because I did.
I couldn’t cope with knowing that while I had had to live without being a part of my child’s life for so long, he could have a little girl. So I confess; I killed Clara and Miles and I gladly entrapped you into the role of murderer because then I knew you’d never be able to leave the Palvine Residence and you would always remain the whisper from behind the door, the cold steam which clouds the mirror and the memory which guided me through the passages of my mind. And you would have done. Had your Dear Friend not come to me asking of the old place you would still be there. But she did and you wanted her to; I watched you staring out of that window blankly into the street below every day at 6pm, when she would walk home along the road and you pray one day she’d look up to the window and see the angel of music. My angel. And one day you couldn’t control yourself, you lit a pumpkin and put and outside and you did well for she did see it and she did enquire and now she is there with you. She followed you, didn’t she?
Having the new found courage after the night you two spent together you left the island that next day. You caught a boat to France. You so wished to find your father. But I knew you never would. But, unlike with me, your mother, you came back for her. I watched as you took her away to Paris. There was nothing I could do to stop you from leaving me and everything else on this island behind to go to your future in a new exciting world.
I forgive you.
The real reason I have written to you is to inform you of Florence’s death. In the early hours of yesterday morning she was found and we’re awaiting an autopsy report. She had another daughter in the time you have been gone – Melodie. I know this is so much to ask for a boy, a man, who has spent his life not knowing me, but as I mentioned I will soon not be able to care for Melodie anymore and hope that you will take over the role.
To assist you in this task, I bequeathed to you everything. In the knowledge of my imminent departure, I have sold my house and have tracked down for you the money your father left before he died. I don’t know if it’ll be enough but I know it will assist. I’m so sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye to you, my son, but I know one day we will meet in paradise. I have my vision of you playing the piano in the window which I know will keep me warm forever. My angel.
A Lifetime of Love