Please Go Here for the beginning of the story.
Francesca started reading the letter:
“How are you? It has been a long time since we communicated. I’m sorry to take so long to answer your last letter. I was away in India, traveling. For five months I stayed at Anita’s house in Mumbay, where they let me have a room at their old family home outside the city. The town’s people were friendly and it really gave me a chance to sit and write my new book. The view from my bedroom window is like a scene from an old movie; every morning I watch the chai vendor selling his goods down in the street below.
“I am back in Belgium now at my house in the country. It has been so long since I was here that everything has collected dust. For the next few days I will be very busy with cleaning the place, especially the garden which has grown wild since I left. Remember the old rose bush? Well, it has flowered again and has taken the fence at the southern gate by storm. And the fuchsia hanging from the garden house has grown so tangled and heavy that I couldn’t get the door open. Will have to trim it a little, but not too much because it is so beautiful.
“The house seems lonely without you. Since Papa passed away there seems to be little to keep me here. I wander the empty rooms, looking at the unused beds and wonder where everyone has disappeared to. I know that you also needed to get away and I know that you are happy working at Uncle Barnaby’s store, but I do miss you, you know. The house is just not the same as it used to be when you were here. You know that you are welcome to come back any time you like. There is always a room open for you. It would be wonderful to see you again.
“How is Uncle Barnaby, by the way? Still booming at customers and trying to sell that old, ratty Top Hat Grasshopper? It makes me laugh whenever I think of acts that Uncle Barnaby used to put on with that puppet. That puppet store really has a history, doesn’t it?
“Anyway, I just wanted to say hello and find out if you are all right. Write when you can. I really miss you.
Francesca sat still for a while after reading the letter. A tear rolled down her cheek and she stuffed the letter back into the envelope.