Until HarryBy: L.A. Casey
Day one in York
I’m writing you this letter because I think there is a better chance you will open it and read it, instead of just deleting it like I know you do to my emails. I’m not going to sugar-coat anything or talk pleasantries. I’m getting straight to the point. I’m sorry to tell you this through a lousy piece of paper, but Uncle Harry passed away this morning. You need to come home and say goodbye. Mum and Nanny aren’t dealing well with Harry’s death. None of us are. We miss you terribly, and right now we need you. We all do. The funeral is on Saturday. Please, come home. Please.
I pushed my glasses up the bridge of my nose as I reread the letter from my brother for the millionth time since I received it two days ago. It stated two things. One, my uncle passed away. My godfather and dear friend was gone. And two, I had to go home.
I wasn’t jumping for joy about either fact.
I looked up from the worn paper Lochlan’s letter was scribbled upon and gazed out the window of the train I was sitting inside. The Yorkshire countryside passed me by, and in seconds I was lost in the green beauty of it. Unfortunately, the glamour of the never-ending dreamlike view wasn’t enough to mask the pain in my chest. The horrendous agony quickly brought me back to the present, and it screamed that I couldn’t run from it.
Not this time, Lane, a sour voice in my mind hissed. You can’t escape this.
Nothing beautiful to the naked eye or soothing to the delicate ear could erase the inevitable reality I would soon have to face head on. I shifted in my seat as my stomach roiled at the thought of what the next few days entailed.
Why did this have to happen? I glumly wondered.
I felt guilty that I momentarily wished I were back in my New York apartment instead of travelling to my home town of York, England. I then felt shamefaced about pondering why my uncle’s death had to land me in such a horrible situation when what I should have been thinking of is why God had to take him away in the first place.
My priorities, as usual, were messed up.
I had difficulty swallowing a lump that formed in my throat. After I took a couple of deep breaths to relax myself, I took my phone out from my coat pocket and opened up my emails. My lip twitched as I scrolled through them. There were hundreds upon hundreds of messages from my Uncle Harry that I never got around to deleting and I was glad of it. He was the only person from back home who I talked to daily. Actually, he was the only person from home that I still spoke to at all. I could escape everyone else, but not my Uncle Harry.
He was a pain in the arse, but I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He was my truest and most trusted friend, and now he was gone.
I had questioned what was wrong when he never emailed me on Tuesday morning. We spoke over Skype the previous afternoon, and he was perfectly fine. We had a routine; I woke up to an email from him every morning, and we would chat back and forth until I spoke to him over Skype during my lunch break at work. When it was 2 p.m. in New York, it was 7 p.m. in York. Uncle Harry went to bed around 9 p.m., so we always spoke beforehand.
I immediately called his phone on Tuesday morning when I didn’t receive an email from him, but his house phone just rang until his answering machine picked up. I left a brief message asking him to ring me as soon as he could, and when he didn’t, dread filled me. I was terribly apprehensive and I couldn’t call my parents to check in on him because I’d deleted their phone numbers years ago – my brothers’ too.
The only number I knew by heart was my uncle’s because he had had the same number for as long as I could remember.
When Wednesday morning came and he still hadn’t contacted me, I decided to go online and get the number to Lilly’s Café on Pavement Street. My grandmother owned the business, but she was also on my do-not-speak-to list, just like my parents and siblings, so we weren’t close.
Not like we used to be before I moved away.
That glitch aside, I figured if I had to ring someone to check on my uncle, it would be my nanny. She was stubborn as hell, but she was the only member of my family that could be reasoned with. Scarcely.
I didn’t have Internet in my apartment – which was shocking considering I was a freelance editor – because the signal strength in my area was very poor. I availed myself of the free Wi-Fi at the local Starbucks whenever I needed it. I got dressed that Wednesday morning, with the intention of heading to Starbucks for the use of said free Wi-Fi to contact my nanny.
I met my postman on the bottom floor of my apartment complex on my way out, and he handed me a single letter. There were urgent stickers all over it, as well as stickers for next-day delivery. It had been sent the day before. The return address was from my brother, so I immediately ripped it open.