deep green earth

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CREATIVE WRITING

Repatriation

Joe Gray

Publication date: 21 January 2020
 



Some emails from last summer…

 


 

Subject: I am here!

Date: 2019-08-01 12:04

From: Laurie Spence <lauriespence97@gmail.com>

To: —

 

Hey Baz,

 

So I know I said I'd write as soon as I got to La Pertruche. But can you believe there is no wifi (wiffy as the locals say). There wasn't even cell reception to message you last night.

 

Joe has given me a lift to town, and I'm sending this from a café (oh, that's cool, auto-correct added the accent!). Not sure how long I've got before we need to go back to La Pertruche, so I'll need to be brief. He goes there once a week for the market, so if I cannot write for the next seven days, please do not worry. I think I might go mad though!

 

There are some crazy insects, including a massive house centipede with huge legs that lives in my shower room, and Joe mentioned something that I did not quite understand about snakes and scorpions, but I don't think anything here can kill me.

 

Joe seems very nice. You can tell he is a well-respected man in the town as everyone stops to shake his hand, or pat his back, or kiss him three times on the cheeks (left then right then left). I'm still a bit upset that I didn't get the placement in Paris I wanted, but I do think he will be very good for my French, even if I am struggling a bit with his accent.

 

I think he was a bit upset this morning as he asked me if I could take shorter showers in future. I only had the water running for 10 minutes, maybe 15 max, so it will be difficult to make it shorter, but I will try. It is so important that I do not upset Joe.

 

It was difficult to sleep last night. I know that the jet lag does not help, but it was just sooooo quiet. At one point, I swear that I could not hear a single sound, even with the window open. I am used to pops falling asleep in front of the TV, and having the sound of talk shows and commercial breaks to help me drift off. It was really weird, but I think I now understand the phrase deafening silence.

 

Then, just as I was getting used to the silence, an animal started making this noise and it seemed like it would go on forever. Somehow, I managed to get to sleep in the end.

 

This morning, I tried to make the sound I'd heard, and Joe burst into laughter. He then said it was probably une chouette, which is what they call owls.

 

I can see Joe coming back now, so I better pay for my coffee and go.

 

I am missing you so much.

 

A la prochaine (as they say here),

 

L x x x

 


 

Subject: Re: I am here!

Date: 2019-08-04 16:04

From: Laurie Spence <lauriespence97@gmail.com>

To: —

 

Hey Bazzy Bear,

 

It is killing me to be away from you too. I just wish we'd met with more time before I went to France. Four weeks is such a short time to try to get to know someone. But it was an amazing month.

 

Joe had an errand to run in town, so I'm sending this from the same café as last time. It is sweet that you are worried about him. Believe me, though, you have no need to be jealous. I am not sure how old he really is. He told me he was 93, but he had a big grin on his face. I think maybe he is more like 60. His wife is probably about that age too, I think, although she always seems so tired, and she is hunched over as if she has been grubbing for potatoes for her whole life. She has crazy wrinkles that are more like furrows in her skin.

 

I have thought of so many things to say, but now I cannot remember them. I must start writing them down as they come to me. I didn't realize my brain would start to give up on me at age 22!

 

One thing I wanted to say was that I understand a bit more about the water now, which you might be interested in because of your environmental studies. It comes from a spring and one year it was so dry that Joe and his wife ran out of water. Can you imagine that? Now they have a backup tank under the ground for emergencies.

 

Oh, and another thing is this. Joe is originally from the Ivory Coast. I don't think I mentioned that to you. And J.O.E. is actually his initials, but he's been called by that name for so long that it feels like his real name now. He says he would need to check his birth certificate to find out what it stands for, because it is so long since he was last called by his full name. I cannot tell when he is telling the truth or making fun of me.

 

I am sorry to hear about your mom. I hope she gets out of hospital soon.

 

Love and kisses,

 

L

 


 

Subject: Re: Worried about you

Date: 2019-08-15 12:34

From: Laurie Spence <lauriespence97@gmail.com>

To: —

 

Hey Baz,

 

I am glad that your mom is out of hospital. That must be a big relief.

 

I am sorry that I have not written for over a week. It has been so hot here. Joe was knocked out by the heat so we could not go to last week's market, but he is better now.

 

I have been doing okay in the heat. They have a brook that tumbles down through their land and Joe said I could take a dip in it. He said to make sure I did not put sun screen on as it would be bad for the wildlife, so instead I wore an old t-shirt and PJ bottoms. Can you imagine? What a sight!

 

At first I was not sure about going in as there were these little things swimming round in it. Then I managed to find my courage and I am glad I did because it was so nice. You should try it if you ever get a chance.

 

Joe and his wife's land has lots of terraced layers. I think at one point it was all chestnut trees, but there is not the demand for those that there used to be. That is was Joe's wife said. So instead they have lots of figs and olives, and some grapes, and also some strange things such as kiwis and pomegranates. They grow almost all their own food. I think one day I would like to be like this. I think it is called self-sufficiency. Joe told me about a book called Woulden. It is by an American and is quite old, but I have forgotten the writer's name.

 

There is one thing I was hoping you could do for me. I have attached a photo I took from my bedroom window. This is the view I wake up to. It is all trees. Can you believe I do not look onto a single house? Anyway, please could you print it for me and send it to my mum. I want her to see it because she really likes trees, but she says she could not see it properly on her cell phone when I sent it to her.

 

Missing you so much,

 

L x x x

 

PS – It is a public holiday today. It is something to do with Mary (the one from the bible), but I did not quite understand what Joe was saying. I have this bad habit of always nodding when Joe speaks, which then makes it difficult to say that I have not understood something.

 


 

Subject: Water

Date: 2019-08-29 13:17

From: Laurie Spence <lauriespence97@gmail.com>

To: —

 

Hi Baz,

 

Joe took me to see a waterfall today, except it is dry at the moment. It is a really tough summer, he says. But I am doing my bit. I have got my daily shower to sixty seconds. It makes me mad that people waste so much water in the world.

 

Also, the funniest thing happened. You know I said the owl was keeping me awake at night. Now I do not feel like I can rest properly until I have heard it.

 

Joe and his wife both say my French has already improved a lot.

 

Missing you,

 

L

 


 

Subject: Extending my trip

Date: 2019-09-05 10:47

From: Laurie Spence <lauriespence97@gmail.com>

To: —

 

Hi Baz,

 

I do not have long to write this because Joe's wife is unwell so we have just popped into town to get medicine.

 

I just wanted to say that I am going to delay my return by a few weeks. I can't explain why I need to stay longer. The place is just so special. Maybe it's all the butterflies, and birds, and flowers. And the peace and quiet (I never thought I'd find myself writing this at 22!). I think I just want to stay till it starts raining again, as everything is so dry and I really want to make sure it is okay with my own eyes.

 

See you soon,

 

L x

 


 

Subject: Re: Extending my trip

Date: 2019-09-12 11:13

From: Laurie Spence <lauriespence97@gmail.com>

To: —

 

Hi Barry,

 

I know it is tough me staying away longer. But this just feels like a once in a lifetime thing. I can't give you a date at the moment.

 

L x

 


 

Subject: Re: Extending my trip

Date: 2019-09-19 11:46

From: Laurie Spence <lauriespence97@gmail.com>

To: —

 

Hi Barry,

 

I think it is a shame that you cannot wait for me any longer. But if you cannot understand why I need to do this, then maybe we are not right for each other, and it is for the better.

 

This is really tricky to do by email, but I'm saying goodbye now.

 

I wish you a good life. You are a good person. I know that. But I will not shed a tear for you. Water is too precious.

 

Laurie 
 



All content © Joe Gray
 

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