Dear Arnold

Dear Arnold,

I hope this letter finds you swimmingly and that you got home without trouble on Friday.

Peter informs me that you organised my taxi before you left, which got me safely to my front door, so for that I would like to say thank you.

Wasn’t the music good? I haven’t seen a harpist with fingers as deft and agile for years. She brought back memories of the Royal Albert Hall. Do you remember that night? The debut of your baby blue dickie bow. 26 years ago and I can still taste the cherry sorbet we had on the walk through the park, discussing the music we’d have our first dance to.

Look, I feel I need to explain what happened.

I arrived at Peter’s place around 5.30pm with the intention of helping to set up for the party, as Amanda was away for the weekend, as you know. But in true Peter style he hired the full works. Outside caterer. Staff. Cleaners. Musicians. The lot. Again as you know. So there wasn’t much use for me.

As the weather was good, Peter suggested we sit out on the veranda sipping champagne. We chatted about the past, the future and righted wrongs. The caterers had the most succulent Belgian chocolate covered cherries, so we nibbled our way through those as we emptied one and a half bottles of champagne and, the devil that he is, a couple of glasses of 40-year-old brandy from Peter’s cabinet for good measure.

When 7.30pm rolled around and guests began to arrive, I was in, what can only be described as, an unfit state. Once again, as you know.

As I had been there for a while I think I decided to play hostess. I welcomed guests and took coats and no doubt made an arse of myself; prancing around like a kept woman in a manor house, desperate for any kind of outside attention.

There wasn’t a single face I didn’t recognise and it was great to be part of the crowd again. Derrick, Sandra, Harold, Mindy, Marjorie. And of course, your brother Charles. From what I can gather, people shared my joy, and my drink was forever replenished. Margret, Betty and Eileen were in as good form as ever – although time is doing Eileen no favours – and refused to let me sit down; introducing me to their new Simons and Pauls and Marks.

The evening simply engulfed me. The food, the wine, the company, the wine, the chatter. It felt like the summers of old.

We soon made our way to the garden and the plinking and plonking of angelic strings soon washed me through the sea of black and white tuxes. The tide soon turned and I saw in the middle distance, by the blossom trees, a foggy mist surrounding a smiling, baby blue tie, calling me like a siren.

I answered the call and for that I’m sorry. And will be eternally sorry. Charles and I did not plan for you to see what you saw. We did not plan to do what you saw. But the unplanned thing that you sadly saw, did take place. Be it due to the evening, the drink, or just a lonely being searching for some vague sense of familiarity, I don’t know. But it happened.

If it helps, my knees are still sore and I feel positively revolting.

I’m too old and too tired to hold a grudge, Arnold, and I just pray that that’s the case for you too. I’m not expecting forgiveness, I’m not expecting friendship. I just didn’t want to leave it.

Yours,

Delilah

x

P.S. Peter told me that Sally seems nice. I do hope we get to meet.

© Carl Burkitt 2013

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