Later that morning, she found the note. It was in the single box which bore the label 'Studio' in a bold, steady hand. It lay beneath the tray of drawing implements; pens, pencils, charcoal sticks and pastels jumbled carelessly together in the remains of a sturdy chocolate box.. She had been looking for her watercolours, knowing the polished wooden box, with its delicate contents of tubes, half-pans and brushes needed to be recovered and set to use sooner rather than later. Instead, she found the single sheet of plain notepaper, its terrible message hand written in pale blue ink.
New York, April 2006
I can’t stay.
In my head, I know that you haven’t left me, but my heart crumbles a little more every day without you. And without him.
Your trip upstate (my little euphemism), I know, is not something you would have chosen. But we don’t chose our responses to the biggest events in our lives. They are thrust upon us by combinations of previous experiences and brain chemistry.
How ridiculous it seems, that you, who held together so well in the first moments of reaction, should have fallen apart so completely in the aftermath, while I stand here bereft and forlorn, but ultimately sane.
I miss him. My very soul still weeps for his loss. He was my flesh. He was our love.
I miss you. You were my anchor, my rock, my place in a storm… Writing that, I wonder if I leant too hard. You never complained I was a burden.
It’s so unfair to have lost you both.
By the time you read this, I’ll be long gone. I wonder if you’ll notice I stopped visiting.
Please forgive me. Don’t try to find me.
It had taken her three months to notice that the visits had stopped, so deeply buried was she in her own mind. They hadn't even been able to give her the note when it arrived, she'd been so lost.
Catatonic, they'd said. She'd seen her notes; the psychiatrist at the Institute liked to use them as a means of showing progress to everyone, including the client. The admission statement made stark reading, containing phrases like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and extreme psychological trauma.
In lay terms, it was a breakdown. She'd dealt with more than her mind could take, and it had gone away, whimpering, to a place it could heal, leaving her little more than the basic autonomic functions to manage with until it recovered.
She ran shaking fingers over the paper, feeling again the almost glassy smoothness that Kate had preferred to go with her ever ready fountain pen, and the loss washed over her again.