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The Lost Letter of Robert Frobisher

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Hôtel Memling.
7th – xii – 1931.

Sixsmith,

The dawn's insidious light breaks through my curtains in Bruges's signature tapioca beiges and rouges. I have not slept for thirty-one hours. Thirty-two, by the end of this letter. I am feeling transcendental.

How are you?

It strikes me how unsympathetic I've been. Am. Dear Sixsmith, how are you? Are you as impassioned an ass as the 1st day I met you in that tumultuous school of oafs where off my feet you charmed me? You laughed when I shouted obscenities to your face. Laughed ever harder when I became angrier, and at the time I had wanted nothing more than to kiss that angelic smile off your face, audience and all.

Realised that Eva's eyes only enchanted me so because they reminded me of yours. What are the things we find beautiful if not the sum of other things we find beautiful? Reread my letter to you dated 29th October, Sixsmith, and change all instances of E.'s name to yours and it will ring with a greater truth.

The final revision of my sextet’s almost complete. I lie, it’s already done, but I go back to it, again and again, from the 1st page to the last and backwards to the 1st. At the end of the race, at last, and I hesitate at the finish line. The manuscript has been my friend, judge, lover, executioner, saviour, sin, for the better part of a year. A piece of me, me itself. Reminded again that writing is a lonely sickness. I talk to myself for companionship, I write to you for the same. Peer out the grimy window to see things living, wondering when I would finally feel a part of them, and not apart from them.

Should I try to leave prematurely? There are still preparations that need to be done before the final hour, but I tire. Arys's Luger's warm though I've not touched it in days, almost like it's at the ready for my command any second. It neither taunts nor tempts. Merely waits. I keep it out of the drawer in full view. Waking up it’s the 1st thing I see.

I would. Leave prematurely, that is. If not for the grip my sextet has over me. I shudder in its fever as if I am maladied with consumption. I must not just be done composing it, I must also share it. Remove it from my person to drift where it’s fated to drift as clouds cross the skies. To rid it I must have peace. To have peace I must be rid of it.

In the quietness of the night when even my own voice deserts me, I think of you. That ridiculous felt hat and that damned coat of yours that smells of plumeria petals. My v. own poison mixed for me in your sweat and on your lips. I think of you, your patience, your fondness for me (heaven knows why!), your gentle caresses softer than doves' wings on my skin, your voice, your smile, and yes, your eyes, and I chastise myself why, when I'd run away from home those many months ago, did I not run in the direction of your arms?

Pride. Dignity. Guilt. I wanted to prove myself to you. I wanted to prove I am worth having you. You will say there is no need. But the more you coax me, the more adamant I become.

Thus within these final days, Cloud Atlas Sextet shall be completed. Completed, mors mea, vita tua. My essence and v. breath shall be poured into it as oxygen into lungs. It will exist as my life when I'm gone. In death, I shall be for once alive.

My Sixsmith, what I wouldn't do to drink with you again under the Corsican stars, your hair mussed, your vest unbuttoned, your lips swollen. A dream. I confess, a dream I envision consciously often. You will not be surprised to find my sextet dedicated to you, of course. I am at once the six soloists belting out their own tunes simultaneously, but you, Sixsmith, are the conductor. It's high time I gave something to you for a change. At the end of the race, and I shall be yours at last.

I fear I will never send this letter. Burn it. Is it my pride again? Or trepidation? I have never told you I love you. Not truly. Yet I pray, infernal though I am, my words may reach you just the same.

Sincerely,
R.F.