Thursday 26th May
Thank you for your latest letter Simone, it is much appreciated and much needed at this moment in my life. It means the world to hear from such a dear friend. I was extremely interested to hear of your tales and adventures in Brazil – it is a country I have yearned to visit for some years now, although I doubt my old bones will now make it across the cold Atlantic. Maybe I will finally join you in the twilight years of my life? We shall see old friend, we shall see! In the meantime I find myself in Geneva, of all places. It is nice here, warm in the summer sun. Great chess boards too, where you often find yourself playing against old crooked masters.
At this moment I’m sitting in Vieille Ville, sure it is a tourist trap, but I am anonymous enough drinking my coffee in peace in this rich historic environment. (You know as well as I do that I need history, not just coffee, to keep me going). As a pleasant extra I am served by waitresses that have truly taken in the beauty of the landscape – they have must have gulped it down so candescent is their splendour and bosoms! Enough of my chatter, let us get down to business and the reason why I write to you now.
Yesterday I received a letter from a person that neither I nor you know, yet they knew me intimately. Although I have only been in Geneva a few weeks (and what glorious peaceful weeks they have been!) this person knew of my history and of our connection. We both know what it is like to live but not to be alive, to merely survive, of constantly having to check who is behind you. I do not want to do that again, I will not. We are brother and sister me and you, not a family by shared blood but by shared experiences. I know I can trust you and that is why I write to you now in deepest confidence.
The content of the letter was vicious, bloody, a real slap in the face of a warning. I could make out a couple of sentences warning of retaliation for being what we are, for having the nerve to run when we did. I am not sure, though, that the writer knew of our story in all of it’s grisly detail, just that we had escaped, ran across that fateful line that separated us from them.
When I close my eyes, when I try to sleep, just when I think I am at my most peaceful sitting by the lake, the scene is shattered irrevocably. I see them still, caged like beasts whilst we ran for our lives, flying over torn up fields of green. We both know that there was no chance of rescuing any of the others but that did not make the decision to leave any easier. When I wake in the morning tears still stain my pillows, such is my desolation that I weep in my sleep. I only hope that you, sister, fare better then me in such circumstances. Indeed, in our way, we have swapped the turmoil in our souls for the beauty of landscapes that we each now inhabit. As deep as we try to drink in the beauty of the world, we know of the deepest darkest recesses of the human mind that haunt us wherever we shall go.
But let me come back to the letter. It was hand delivered to the door of my apartment in Geneva around the time the normal post came. This realisation, that whoever dropped it off knew where I was living, came to me like a slap in the face. It was as if I had been pulled from a deep peaceful coma and plunged into an ice bath. Perhaps for too long had I been lulled into a false sense of security by the facade of history in the city. Either way I knew I had to act quickly.
The letter did not state any direct actions that the writer would take but it did not need to – after all the very fact that they knew where I lived was a threat enough was it not? I decided to pack my bag that instant, leaving the apartment within the hour. I am hiding in plain sight at the moment but later I shall catch the train and escape this city altogether. I do not feel safe here any more. I knew of course that it was risky to stay here, but I will not abandon them, at least not until I know it is too late.
You know I cannot seem to escape Europe itself. My roots are too deeply embedded in the landscape, my history present in the wind, the soil drenched in my blood. I cannot leave here, nor will I. As much as I would love to sit by your side on the white beaches of Rio I cannot. Please have that extra drink for me and raise your glass when you do. Think of me, but think of others left behind. Only in our mind are we truly free.
So this letter is just a warning sister, please be on your guard as I am now on mine.
In this letter I have included a safe location for you to write to me. For now I will deposit this letter at the railway station and ask an aide to post it later on today to make the 5pm post.
Please reply when it is safe, when you are able.
Letter 2 – Letter 3