All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The one thing Casper would always do after writing a letter was to fetch a blue envelope, go out of the house and to the park and sit down at the same bench to check it again. The bench had a wooden seat with rusty handles and cracks in the slats, but it was the last place he’d sat and spent some time with Wendy before she’d been diagnosed with heart cancer and sent off to Queen Mary’s Hospital in Central London, miles away from their tiny village in Kent. But it was the best place for such patients and so, with tears in his eyes, he’d wheeled her into hospital and said goodbye.
He stared at the slightly creased sheet of paper in his hands, reading the few rows of haphazardly written sentences once again.
‘Dear Wendy,’ it read, ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t write to you sooner. I’ve been working extra shifts day and night and whenever I sat down to finally begin a letter another call would come in and I’d have to leave it for the next day. But the Boss has finally managed to get in some extra workers so I’ve the day off. I know my excuses are probably very annoying and a letter is so much worse than a visit from your papa, but you know that the Boss will fire me if I take a day off without notice and we simply can’t afford to lose the money for your treatments.
It would be silly to ask how you are, because of course you’re not fine. But I do hope you’re getting better. As soon as I get a proper weekend off, I’m catching a train to Central London and staying at an inn close to your hospital. That way I’ll be able to see you every day and play with you and do all the things we normally did whenever I was free. I hope the nurses feed you properly. I’m going to bring a big box of sweets over and we’ll share them when I manage to come over. I mean, you need to take a break from all those medications now and again don’t you? Even if it is to cure your little heart trouble.
‘ I hope to see you soon, and please keep writing to me.
He took out a pen from his pocket and added a single x at the bottom of the page. Then he picked up a blue envelope from his lap, and, carefully folding up the letter, he placed it inside and sealed the envelope. Wendy’s name, ward and the hospital address were already written on the back.
He stood and walked out of the park to the red postbox standing in the corner. Sliding the envelope into the slot, he walked back home.
Three days after Casper posted the letter, a girl called Wendy received a haphazardly written letter from her papa. She read it with longing in her eyes and hope in her heart.
She waited some more.
All the time she waited for him to come, she took her medications and ate well, thinking about the box of sweets that her papa would bring her, and smiling when the doctors told her that she was a very good little girl.
She didn’t hear the sorrowful whispers of the hospital nurses about her slowly worsening condition.
Each week she received a letter from her papa, about how he was trying to get a weekend off, full of loving promises for his future visit.
She read them and kept them under her pillow to reassure herself that soon her papa would come, that soon they would be reunited.
She dreamed about her papa in her sleep and thought about him when she awoke.
She was convinced he would come to her and stay with her, and she would show him how much she was healing.
She was wrong.
After a few months, Casper was the one on the receiving end. He opened the stark white envelope with trembling hands.
‘To the parent/guardian of Miss Wendy Starling,’ it read, ‘Your daughter is in critical condition and requests your presence.’
He couldn’t read any further.
Anybody who had been watching him pack would have seen a frail old man, very different from the sprightly young one just a few minutes ago. Casper packed a few clothes and money for the fare in a battered suitcase before putting on his coat and hat and stumbling outside. He trudged down the street barely looking at anything, and almost unconsciously stopped outside the park where he sat down on the bench and set down his suitcase. For almost half an hour he stared vacantly in front of him with his head in his hands.
Then he saw the candy store. He remembered his first letter to Wendy, a long, long time ago, in which he promised her a big box of sweets.
Filled with a new resolve, he stood up, picked up his suitcase and walked into the shop. He came out with a bright pink box tied with a yellow ribbon.
He spent three hours on a train, and one hour on a bus, then walked half a mile, navigating through the busy traffic of Central London before arriving at the hospital. It was nearly dusk.
He entered the large grey building and talked to the receptionist, who told him to go up three floors and through the second door on his right to get to the ICU.
When he walked in, he looked around for Wendy, and spotted her in the bed next to the window, with wires sprouting out of her everywhere. He rushed over to her at once, not caring about the other parents glaring or the patients watching curiously. All he could see was his daughter.
All Wendy could see was her father, with a box in his arms.
He ran over to her and planted kisses all over her face, a stream of relentless apologies issuing from his mouth. He placed the box in her arms and opened it for her.
She watched him open it to reveal rows and rows of chocolates and sweets all waiting for her.
She looked up at him and smiled.
He was crying and crying but she didn’t know why.
Her mother was standing right behind him with open arms and there was a beeping sound all around her she whispered a final goodbye to her papa before she pushed herself up and ran into her mother’s arms her papa was yelling for her but she couldn’t go back she just spiralled up and up into the clouds and disappeared…
He stared at her peaceful face. Even in death, she smiled. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he glanced away. There was a letter on her bedside table.
I think I’m getting better. They’ve put wires in me but I think that’s just because they want to check that I’m fine before I’m discharged. But there’s one weird thing- I keep seeing this woman who strokes my hair and whispers goodnight to me every time I go to sleep, and she glows like an angel. She makes me feel better.
I dream of you every night Papa. I really hope you come soon, because I miss you and I get lonely sometimes.
I love you Papa, no matter how far away you are. I always will.
He wouldn’t stop crying.
At the funeral, he laid down a big pink box tied with a yellow ribbon on her coffin with a simple note.
I love you too.
From your Papa.’