April 24th, 1944
My dear Perenelle,
I suppose that sending a letter so soon after your departure defeats the purpose of long-distance communication, but alas, here we are. I have faith that this message will find you before you even reach the familiar Bretagne coast. I could not help but sit down and write the moment you walked out our doorway. There is so much to tell you within every second of every day, although I am sure you are already familiar with every thought that runs through my mind. Most of them revolve around you, after all.
I wish you the safest and most uneventful travels, my love. Let me know how that quaint little town fares. Come home soon!
Yours, most truly,
May 1st, 1944
I cannot believe it’s been but a few days away from home and my collection of your letters has already grown. You really are quite insatiable. I have safely arrived in Saint-Malo with not a single hitch in my travels. Our friends here were glad to see me, and some did question your absence, but they understood once I mentioned how utterly devoted my brilliant husband was to his studies. That isn’t to say I don’t miss you, of course. You simply must accompany me next time.
This quaint little town has become a silent stronghold against whatever enemy it encounters. Its people are fiercely loyal to their home and to each other, and it warms my heart to see how much it has grown these past years. The world is painted in shades of blue here, bright in the sky and dark in the sea. Tall walls and rocky shores of grey and brown feel like home- but how I wish you were here to see it with me! Enclosed within the envelope is a darling little shell I discovered on a walk; I thought you might enjoy it.
With all facets of my love,
May 10th, 1944
You find me brilliant? Oh, will wonders never cease? You are the brilliant one here, darling, for sending me such a marvelous specimen to look at. I had to pull myself away from my desk today, but you’ll be happy to hear that was a feat I accomplished rather well. I went to the market, as bustling as ever, although the air around our beautiful neighborhood seems thick with hopelessness and I am sure you know all the reasons why. I don’t ever recall seeing our city so gloomy. Suffice to say, your letter and your gift brightened the dreary day we are having here in Paris.
You paint a wonderful picture with your words, my love. I daresay you would rival England’s most brilliant playwright with your descriptions. I am glad you are enjoying your travels, but I would be remiss if I did not caution you against straying too far from the city. I would hate for any despair to reach you, but I am certain that the Malouins would stand against anything threatening to harm their beautiful coast. And I know my brave wife would stand right beside them, a true Malouin at heart. It only pains me that I cannot be with you. A few weeks is already far too long. I think of you often.
Stay safe and stay bright, my love. Send my best to our friends and neighbors.
May 24th, 1944
You manage to make me smile even through rainy days. The shore is unapproachable today, as storms roll through the tiny slice of France here. Your gloominess seems to have been transferable via post, unfortunately. I was rather looking forward to getting you another shell, but alas, I am confined to my inn room.
Luckily, this is a city of solitude. And as you aptly characterize, the people of Saint-Malo are so far unfazed by anything beyond their own walls, despite the grim news that has become rather inescapable. They prefer their focus remain within the city walls, on themselves and their own improvement. One could call it ignorance, one could call it bravery. Maybe a mix of both.
I think of you always, and miss you dearly. I am indeed very proud of your marketplace trip, please don’t forget to keep yourself fed and healthy. I would certainly be distraught if I returned home to a skeleton husband. Unless it was another of your experiments; then you might receive a light scolding. How are those going, by the way? I sincerely hope you have spared my poor plants by the window- if you have, remember to water them!
I suppose all of these circumstances have made me rather overwrought. Nothing to be concerned about, of course. I am safe and I am happy as can be. I am in my home city. Only missing you.
All my love,
June 2nd, 1944
My darling wife,
Was I not supposed to touch the plants on the windowsill? I am afraid you might come home to a nasty surprise- I seem to have painted them all several shades of pink! Looks like I’ll need that scolding after all. I hope you enjoy my extremely accurate sketch of the mishap here…
I jest, of course. Only one of them is pink. The rest are all perfectly watered and happy, growing strong despite the longing your absence inspires. Speaking of, I do believe our house prefers you over me. Did you know the curtains in my office have not closed since the moment you left? At first I thought it was impressive, a parting gift of yours, but I realized it must simply be stubborn fabric, refusing to let me wilt away in the despair of being separated from you. For that, I am grateful.
But you need not worry about me! Even without the curtains’ support, I am taking good care of myself and our home. I would go for more walks, but the ambience of our city continues to fall as hopelessness permeates the air. How are things on the coast? How are our friends?
I cannot say it relieves all of my worries to know you are confined to a single room (especially considering my absence from said room) but I am relieved you are not caught up in the action. I cannot stand to see you hurt.
Be safe, be well. I miss you.
June 11th, 1944
The city continues to sleep for now. Things move in the night, I have heard, move from shops to hotels to homes as silently as possible. Our friends are impossibly talented at disappearing. How I wish I could join them, but my work outside is much more important. I am making steady progress in my investigation, not drawing too much attention to myself (though it warms my heart that you worry).
I am sure I am nearer to our goal every day. But I am also beginning to think we are not alone in this mission.
I have come across an unknown man, a stranger to the town and to you and I. I’ll refer to him as V.R, as I would not put it past someone to intercept this letter in the post. Thank goodness the most you have mentioned is pink plants. Not to worry, I am quite certain whoever opens this letter would have the utmost trouble reading scribbles in an indecipherable language. My writing is charmed to be read only by your eyes. A clever trick, no? I’m rather proud of it myself.
V.R has not caused much trouble, yet. I remain cautious but friendly, so as not to arouse suspicion. But I have learned quite a few tricks from you, my love, in hiding my tracks. Do not worry.
Things are otherwise normal. I miss you as always, and I sincerely hope the gloom in Paris has not soured your curious mind. I think about home at almost every moment. Keep the home fires burning for me, won’t you?
All my love,
June 23rd, 1944
I am afraid my letter will be short today- there is much to be done around the house and in the city. I am stoking the home fires, one could say. What I would give for a relaxing shoreside vacation away from all this mess.
A fellow investigator? How peculiar. I will do my own research on V.R from here and see if I collect anything worth sending to you. Just to be safe, I ask you to take precautions around him. For your old worrywart husband, won’t you?
I know you’ve traveled with your mementos from home, but I wanted to send you a gift of my own. Attached is one of my favorite pictures of us, taken from my bedside table. I hope it brings you as much happiness as it did me- you certainly need it more than I, what with the ongoing news from the coast. You’ll stay safe, won’t you, Perry? You know I cannot help but fret.
Thinking of and missing you,
July 5th, 1944
I cannot thank you enough for the picture you sent me. I keep it in my pocket, as close to my heart as possible. It is a source of hope. It reminds me of home- it reminds me of you.
Things have worsened here, as you likely already know. I seem to have become more intimately acquainted with the inside of a bomb shelter than with the shore. A restful vacation town, indeed. Our resting time is now cut short almost daily with the sound of plane engines and alarms.
And yet, the city sleeps.
The Malouins will not act, at least not brazenly. As I have mentioned, things seem to be done a lot quieter here on the coast. I do not think we’ll see a direct confrontation, but rest assured that things are moving. You and I both know how a sleepy city can be but a simple cover.
I will remain as safe as possible while continuing my investigations. I must say V.R is proving to be a meddlesome man, but I suspect he is just that- a man. Although I know better than to question just how dangerous men can be. We have had our fair share of meddlesome adversaries, haven’t we?
I would ask you not to worry, but I know you will regardless. Take comfort in the fact that I have yet to obtain a single scratch through all the chaos around me. I will be fine.
P.S - If you are old, then surely I am as ancient as that shell specimen I sent you. And that just won’t do.
July 18th, 1944
The very thought of you being considered ancient made me laugh. The only thing that is ancient is my love for you, old yet young and everlasting. Rather poetic, don’t you think? I have been doing some reading lately, both recreational and necessary. Recent news does have a habit of sobering the mood, unfortunately. I wish I had a livelier letter for you.
You should read the headlines these past few days. In some morbid way, I would like to remember these moments- we are, after all, living through history. I hold onto that thought with bitterness and resignation, but I am not bitter enough to view it with contempt just yet.
Speaking of which, I do not believe our fellow investigator friend has been around as long as we have. He seems to be a normal humani, although I cannot rule out the influence of some greater power upon him. If V.R has been tempted by them, it would explain his obsession with the object of your investigations. Although I cannot fathom why they would be interested, either- maybe we truly are on the right path? That thought both terrifies and intrigues me.
Although I am beginning to wonder if this is all worth it, considering recent events. I did unfortunately end up burning a piece of our carpet after hearing the news.
British bomber aircraft attacking railway yards and fuel storage tanks… What is their plan? Do they not know the majority of people on the coast are civilians? Do their ends truly justify their means? Some part of me calls it a hypocritical concern, but I cannot be bothered to delve into my morals when it concerns you or your safety.
For some terrible moment, I thought you might’ve been caught up in the blast- and although I cannot factually rule that out until your reply arrives, I know that I would feel your departure from this world deep in my soul. My old man’s heart cannot take much more of those scares, my darling. I need you with me.
Please, come home if you can safely do so. I cannot bear to lose you. Write back soon.
Love and strength,
Saturday, July 31st, 1944
I do not know how things worsened so quickly. Another oversight of man’s cruelty on our part, I suppose. Are we so used to greater powers that we’ve forgotten our most faithful enemy?
The city no longer sleeps. It is alive yet dying, every moment of every day. I hear its screams, its cries for mercy, its pleas for the war to stop. Nobody wanted this, Nicholas, nobody in this town did anything to warrant an attack of this magnitude. Even as I write I can hear it all. There, another plane roaring above me. There, more soldiers marching down the street, armed to the teeth. There, another family being sent away and broken apart. There, more people I am unable to save. More countrymen I have failed.
I am afraid, Nicholas.
I was not afraid when it was a single bullet (or even a volley of them- only one struck true, after all). But I find myself wary now, waiting for the day my safe haven becomes compromised and my magic is not enough to defend my city. A city that has fallen, been reduced to a shadow of the grand Saint-Malo I once knew. Bricks and bodies line the streets, the blue sky is covered with dark smoke, and the stars have been left behind. Our friends have vanished, scattered to the wind, taken away or
killed lost I do not know. Who will tell their families?
I want to come home to you, more than anything. I miss your smiles and your touch. Your laughter fades in and out of my mind, one of the memories I want to keep replaying in case it is the last thing I think about.
Do you remember our wedding day? Our vows? The feeling of your hand in mine is one I swore never to forget, and now I cling to it with a desperation that echoes in the stones of Saint-Malo. We have lived so long, so long together, and in the end I am alone. In the end, it is men and their machines that terrify me the most. Unchecked ambition and pure cruelty, it seems, is destined to be our downfall.
Will this get to you? I hate that I do not know the answer.
Nicholas, Nicholas. I do not want to die.
I love you.
Sunday, August 6th, 1944
I heard of bombs today. Bombs. Directly in the area you should be staying. What has this world, this war, come to? Perry, if you can give me any sign you are safe and not buried under mounds of rubble, it will ease my terrified heart.
I am going to find a way to you. Travel in and out of France becomes more difficult by the day, but getting to the coast should only take me a few weeks. Stay safe, I beg you. I love you. I cannot lose you.
August 27th, 1944
My path out of Paris has been blocked. If I do not hear from you in three more days, I am coming to get you by whatever means possible. If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is uncertainty, and I have been pushed to my very limit.
Please, please come home. I cannot do this without you. I love you.
September 13th, 1944
The war has ended. Happy birthday, my love.
I no longer know if these letters are reaching you, but I am at a loss for what to do. Travel to Saint Malo- can a city still have a name if it has been reduced to rubble?- is completely blockaded. And I am hesitant to use my aura. It is risky to even attempt to leave Paris. I don’t even know if you still live and breathe.
Of course you do. How dare I even put that in writing? Look at what a blasphemer you’ve made me, my love. I believe. I believe we will make it through this.
September 27th, 1944
I’m afraid I’ve been driven quite mad. I watch the door every day for your arrival, I listen for news, I have even attempted tracing your aura. I have not heard from our friends, and you know I have never been one for optimism. I do not know if you were felled in the blasts or if you are still out there, hiding from whatever enemy we were too blind to see before you departed.
He is (was?) a war general, Perry. A decorated soldier but awarded for all the wrong reasons- a brutal man, a cruel man, one that kills without a second thought. He does not seem like an immortal to me. Although it was you who said it- in the end, plain humani will be our downfall. But this lack of knowing is pushing me towards insanity every day, and still I do not hear from you.
Insane with grief, hopelessness, love, despair. Take your pick, and I likely feel it. The emptiness inside me grows with your passing absence. What I would give to be able to hold you again, to kiss you, or even just to see you. To know that you are alive and safe would be the greatest balm on my soul.
Come home, Perenelle.
- Yours, now and forever
October 4th, 1944
I have survived. I have a stone with me, one that might prove to be of great interest to you. It is everything we have been waiting for. Obtaining it was quite the journey- remind me not to get acquainted with any war generals in the near future.
Do not worry, my love. I am coming home.