This is another extract from a longer piece I’m working on – the same piece that features The Pearl Mother. These letters are written by the protagonist’s mother.
“Looking up, it’s hard to believe that the stars really are so far away. The zeppelins pass overhead now and then, the drone of their engines a gentle hum compared to the loud clatters and shouts that ring out below.
My darling one, my growing child, how I wish you could be next to me now, breathing in the air, and the space, and the freedom – my secrets here in the city. No one ever thinks to look up, it seems, and even if they did, they wouldn’t see me here, lying flat against the roof tiles and feeling as though I could fall into the sky if I just learned to let go.
When the time comes, I will give you up as I know I must. To you, I will be an abstract concept; an idea, a mother you never knew. But to me, in this moment, under these stars, I am real. I want to cry out to you, wherever you may be when you read this, that I am real and that I am afraid for you.
I’m afraid that you’ll be like me, that right now, the strangeness that is part of me is being woven into your bones and skin, to become a part of you that you can never escape. What I’m more afraid of, though, is that you won’t be like me. That you will be just another person with their eyes on the cobbles rather than the heavens. That, my darling, would be a heavier burden to bear.
I lay on the roof again tonight, face turned up to a sky half eclipsed by swift moving clouds. After a while, the rain began to fall but I stayed where I was; the roof is the only place cool enough for me now, even in the early hours, and I cannot bear to look at plaster and velvet when the heavens are so close.
I know now that you are like me. For weeks, I have been dreaming of strange things – sounds, movements and feelings down there in the warm dark. My mind tries to match these dreams with things that it knows and understands – sometimes I find myself in the spice-soaked crimson dark of a coffee house, while other times, I am suspended and weightless in deep water that cannot drown me. I know that these dreams are from you but I don’t know if they are meant for me. I long to think that, somewhere in you, you know me, but perhaps I’m just privy to your thoughts in the way that a lover hears whispers from a sleeping partner.
As I write this, a storm is coming. The clouds have become so heavy and thick that I cannot see the stars – it is as though there is nothing beyond this city; the roof-top that I lie on. And while I know this is perfectly normal – for who can see the heavens above the clouds? – I am afraid.”