Letters to Grams: Ramblings

June 21
Loriwen Snowberry, 6 Long Street, Wildore, Bree-land

The wonders of talking.

Ah, my faith in just telling someone how you feel has proven to be the right thing to do, yet again. Not only is it nice to have myself proven right, but everything makes so much more sense in my life. Let me apologize in advance, for this letter is going to be even more dull than the previous.

Oh, wait! I planted some strawberries. That’s how interesting I am. Ah, perhaps I’m a bit too hard on myself. I saw Anna the other day, that was wonderful. I missed her so much, and I think she missed me, too. Gave me a right big hug when she saw me! That was wonderful. I love hugs…not enough people give hugs these days. It’s a shame. But Anna. Yes, I went into town to find a dress for that dance I mentioned in my last letter. The best place to go to get a dress is most certainly Anna’s shop. Her work is fine, and I know she puts her heart into every piece she makes. After fussing over me for a bit, she went into the back and pulled out a special order that had never been picked up.

It is gorgeous, Grams. Gorgeous! The fabric is soft and smooth, flowing beautifully. The sleeves are long, which is good because of how much I manage to mess myself up with running into things. Can’t see any bruises if you have longer sleeves on. The bust isn’t too low, but it’s no average dress, either. The color is what caught my eye, both literally and so to speak. It was dyed a wonderful shade of teal, the exact color of my eyes. Ah, I looked at it in her looking-steel and it was amazing how well it matched my eyes. The only thing that didn’t fit was that it was a bit too long, so she shooed me out of the shop and hemmed it right up for me. My measurements certainly haven’t changed since the last dress she made for me, so she knew what was what.

She also gave me a bit of a talk on not letting a man get away from me if I care for him. I feel so bad for her! How could Dad have never noticed? Well, noticed is the wrong word. Did anything about it is the better word. Poor Anna loved him before he left for his travels, and he married Mother later on. She always did love him.. it breaks my heart to think about it. Even now, she treats me like I’m her daughter. She still has tears in her eyes when she thinks of him. It’s not fair to her! She’s such a wonderful and warm woman, why would he not want her, even years after?

Ah, I don’t understand it, but I guess that’s a foolish thing for me to go on about, isn’t it? I never knew Mother, never even knew her name. Whatever happened to her affected Dad so deeply that he never even considered another woman, even years later. I wish I knew so much! Even people around town didn’t know her, it’s as if she didn’t actually exist. The only description I ever got of her was her long blonde hair and stern face. That’s it! That’s all I know of my mother. Anna is more of a mother to me, so I suppose that’s why I seem so indignant on her part. I know Mother didn’t intend to die, no one truly does…but I’ll always wonder. Did she love me? Did she run away to get away from me? Was it something Dad did? Did she run off and get attacked by highwaymen? I’ll never know. I don’t even know her name. My own mother’s name, I don’t know it.

I don’t even know why she insisted on my name as it is. Loriwen. The only story Dad ever told me of her was that one. I asked why I had such an odd name, as all my friends were named Helen and Sue and other short and normal names. My name had that “wen” on the end. Everyone always called me “Lori” as it was, so why was my name different? He told me that my mother insisted my name carry “wen” at the end of it. She liked the name “Lori” well enough, but Loriwen would be my full name. It clearly wasn’t any kind of fight, as it’s just a name, but he did give in and allow it. He told me it changed my name’s meaning from “leaves” to “lady of leaves.” That it made me special. Then he asked me to help you with the dishes, he had to be alone. Now I can only assume that means he wept, but I don’t know for sure. He was quite sad. You remember that day, don’t you? It’s the day I hopped up to help you with the dishware and told you I was a proper lady, my name even said it. That I was going to marry me a rich man and wear lady-dresses. Oh, what a fond memory! I had forgotten all about that second part until just now. I hope you remember it as fondly as I do. What a typical girl-child I was!

In some ways, I miss those days, and in others, I wouldn’t trade now for then. I do miss you both dearly. So, so dearly. I hope you’re reading these letters as I write them. You two are what I miss about those days most. Childlike innocence is nice, and I think I’ve still retained a bit of it, but what I really miss are you and Dad. I look to the past too much in these letters, I think! Probably because I’m uncertain as to the future. My future’s been certain for a long time: I’d grow old, make friends, carve wood, and grow my garden. These same things have kept me happy and content enough for the past ten years since both of you left. Romance, peh! Everyone wants romance, but every time I even thought of it with someone, they turned me down quite promptly.

Even that Camus fellow. I never wrote you about him, but that was quite upsetting at the time. Quite some time ago, when I first discovered the Broken Cask (that tavern I frequent) I met a cousin of the innkeeper. He name is – was? I’m not sure, I haven’t seen him in months – Camus Locksley. Same surname as Rosie’s before she got married, that’s how I know it. He was a quiet enough man, a bit younger than me, though. I figured there would be no chance, but he took what I thought was an interest in me. He’d actually talk to me without others around, and I thought I’d catch him looking at me. Things were crazy then, what with the flood and plague spreading around. He disappeared for a while, and I was a bit worried he had perished along with so many others. I even found myself a vial of the cure and saved it for him. I saw him one time after that, talked with him for a short while. Gave him the vial, it seemed like he enjoyed talking. Never saw him again. Quite odd, quite disappointing. Ah, but there is a point to this little story. I’d gotten over that long ago. My point is that it has happened to me a lot, constantly thinking a man may have an eye for me but then completely ignoring me or showing up one day with another woman on his arm. I’ve become used to being alone, even began to enjoy it. Could go where I wanted, when I wanted, didn’t have to worry about worrying anyone else.

Why did my thoughts turn here? I promise, there’s even another layer of a point: Tarlanc. I know, my letters seem to always begin and end with him. He is admittedly on my mind very often. Strange that I’d find myself enamored with and being courted by a Gondor sailor of all the types of people in the world, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. He took me aside the other day, told me that the risks I take when I gather my timber concern him. He wants to help, to protect me. I’ve never had someone care about what I do. He really listens to me talk about what I’ve carved. He actually wants to hear stories of you and Dad. Whenever I hurt myself by accident, he softly tells me he wishes I would be more careful. He cares about me. It’s new, and I’m still reeling from it.

He told a lovely story last night at the Cask, a most adorable story about a rainbow fish that could feed an entire village for a year. He modified it a bit, apparently, to be friendly for the Hobbit-lass we were…well, we weren’t taking care of her, but I guess we were. She had fallen asleep and missed her Ma. So I held her and he told her a story to calm and quiet her. The story was adorable…I could tell he has those nieces and nephews he’s mentioned before. I’m beginning to wonder if he wants children of his own. He always mentions his family first, warns me that they’d be asking about children in the first five minutes of meeting me, but he mentions it a lot himself. I wonder if he realizes how often it’s brought up, and always by him, not me. Even as early as our second real meeting, he was mentioning how a woman of my age can carry a healthy child just fine! It scares me quite a bit, Grams. I don’t know if I’m cut out to be a mother, at all. I’m just too clumsy. I’d be more apt to drop them or feed them the wrong food than not. I do love children, but to actually be in charge of one? Oh, no. I just don’t think I could do it. I don’t even want to think about it anymore.

Ah, this letter has gone long, hasn’t it? I really should wrap it up, I have to finish cleaning up my house. I’ll write you again soon, and perhaps even with the length I showed here! Give Dad a hug for me, a big hug.

Your little pumpkin,
Lori

Memories: A Promise

A soundless sneeze echoed through the farmhouse. Loriwen sniffled to herself, rubbing her nose with a sleeve. It was warm, but her Grams insisted she stay under the covers. Best way to get rid of a sickness is to stay in bed, she said. So Lori stayed, miserable, overheated, and constantly coughing.

A well-trimmed mop of red hair with gray speckled throughout it trotted through the doorway, Rojer beneath it with worried eyes. “Hey, pumpkin.” He kneeled down on the floor, sitting on his heels. Running his hand through his daughter’s sweat-soaked hair, he felt her forehead. Burning up still. He frowned. “Here, I got this for you.” Pulling a large bottle of medicine from his pouch, he grabbed the spoon that was in her tea.

Loriwen shook her head, making a scrunched frowning face. Covering her feverishly flushed face, she made it very clear she was not interested in taking the awful medicine.

Pumpkin, please. If you take it now, you’ll feel better later. Don’t you want to feel better on your birthday?” Rojer pleaded softly with his daughter, holding the spoon carefully.

The small girl relented a little, but still didn’t open her mouth.

I’ll ask Grams to give it to you instead.”

That straw broke the girl’s back, and she opened her mouth reluctantly. Making a rather funny face, she eventually swallowed the medicine, it tasting even worse than she had feared. Loriwen looked to her father sadly, pointing to her throat.

I know, I know.. this medicine is supposed to make it all better. You’ll be able to talk soon, I promise.” He patted her hand, smiling sadly. “It’s just a touch of sickness, you’ll get your lovely little voice back soon.”

Unable to speak but understanding, she settled down into bed sadly. The sight about broke Rojer’s heart. He smiled and ran his fingers through her hair again. “Loriwen, let’s make a promise. We’ll always be together on our birthdays, even in silence and without cake.”

Loriwen’s eyes sparkled once again, nodding slowly. She held out her hand with a weak smile. Rojer put on as happy a smile as he could muster, giving her a hand shake.

Eleven years later, now a grown woman, Loriwen Snowberry found herself in the opposite position. Kneeling in the same pose, she sat next to her father’s bed. Wringing a rag in cold water, she placed it on her father’s forehead quietly. After a long time of silence, she reached up and held his hand. Never a good liar, she cleared her throat and managed to choke one sentence out. “Everything is going to be alright, Dad.”

Rojer’s head shook quietly, more gray than red strands falling into his face. A small, sad smile was plastered on his face. He brought his hand up to his daughter’s face, weakly poking her nose.

Loriwen’s eyes began to fill up with tears. “You have to be here for my birthday. We promised. We’ll always be together on our birthdays, even in silence and without cake.”

A raspy, thin wafer of a voice wafted into the air. “We always will. Visit me?” Rojer winced at the talking, lapsing back into silence. His own face had tears running down it.

She nodded slowly, her voice cracking with barely contained emotion. “I promise.” Her lips quivered as she attempted to hold back the tears practically brimming over.

He nodded slowly, lifting his hand to touch her cheek as he gave his daughter one last weak smile before slowly closing his lids.

Unable to contain herself anymore, Loriwen threw her head into the bedspread and sobbed.