Peer Review by yapyapxy (Singapore)

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Emilia and Jonathan

By: Louisa Rhodes

Dear Jonathan,

I've missed you, more than you could know. I cannot put into words how much your fingertips are wanted by mine as we walked through the park holding hands, or how my hair sticks up, static, waiting for you to stroke it down. And yet every time I try to put this into words, I wipe them all away and start again, unable to allow those words to become real. The sentences you read now are simply the ones that have fallen through the net, splashed unknowingly onto the paper as I furiously eradicate all the rest. In fact, I don’t even know if you will ever read this; there’s every chance it will end up in the bin before I have a chance to send it. Just know that I miss you and every second spent with you.

This is a lie. All of it. Well, not a lie in the sense that it is false - in some ways it is completely not. It is a lie in the ways that newspapers publish lies; they will not permit these words to be true, and I definitely will not. My words do not exist outside of this letter, let alone in any newspaper, god forbid. We would be the story that never was, of the century that hasn’t been, told by the generation that we all forgot. But this is stupid; I have spent too much time inside my own head that my pretentious sounding words have taken on a tone far above their own importance.

I wonder where you are these days. Still unemployed? Or have you finally gotten off your lazy backside and taken responsibility for your own living costs, however low they may be. Knowing you, you’d probably sleep on someone’s sofa for 6 months rather than actually pay another human for the use of a flat that you could call your own. (I'm sorry, that all came out a bit harsher than I anticipated.) But then again, why pay for anything when there’s a hopelessly love-struck friend just waiting for you to leech off them until you get your own sorry ass back together?

Sorry, I’m relapsing into my own history, out of habit. I always did like to talk, didn’t I. Far more than you did anyway. I would always ponder how you put up with me and my unstoppable mouth for so long, over all those months. Though, now I’m writing this, it wasn’t months at all. Merely weeks at most, despite it feeling like so much longer. It’s strange how emotions cloud one’s sense of time, extending days into years or compressing decades into just seconds. Surely by now, linguists must have redefined a few phrases that we have come to understand better. The passage of time: - the process by which one person forgets another, to the extent that they eventually become fictional themselves. Or maybe I’m being ostentatious, in which case we won’t know if I am a genius or a madman until I die, as that is the only way any one is ever hailed for either of those seemingly desirable properties.

Look at that – I’m being all theatrical again, with my long words and complex sentences. Too much time writing for the philosophy column in the local paper has turned me into an insufferable academic with too much knowledge and not enough people gullible enough to listen.

Or at least, that’s probably how you’d describe me, if we were to ever meet on the street. You would saunter up to me, because that’s how you try your hand with every girl that crosses your path, and ask me my name. And of course I would mumble in reply and look at the floor in that oh so seductive way we all know so well. And maybe eventually you would get bored and make up an excuse to wander off, or my bus would come and I’d leave you in your own little puddle of self-righteousness, as is the way with obviously incompatible couples. It’s a wonder we ever got anywhere at all.

But, honestly, if I did see you on the street, I would never wish you to be alone. Perhaps it is my tendency to put other’s happiness above my own, but I would want nothing more than to see you with a family. You might be holding your son’s hand, ready to swing him up with the help of your wife, because that’s what your parents did with you. You’d be smiling, appreciating the moment, as you should, because it is perfect, beyond comparison. Above all, you’d be happy, or at least, happier than you were when I first met you, as much as you tried to hide it.

I sometimes wonder if you ever did turn up at that goddamned hotel at whatever the arranged time was. I would explain to you why I didn’t, but either the words wouldn’t work or simply wouldn’t show at all. Just like me I suppose.

I apologise; it seems my ability to compose coherent sentences has abandoned me when I need it most. I suppose I did not go to the hotel room because I was not brave enough, or I had too much to lose, or too much that would be left behind. Or none of those reasons, because they are all pathetic and you deserve so much more. Or perhaps you deserve nothing less; you may not have bothered to turn up at the designated time either for all I know. All that I do know is that I didn’t, and so I am writing this letter to you

It truly would be wonderful to see your face again, Jonathan, but I’ve move twice in the last fortnight and expect to again within the next few days. Not even you could track me down now.

Your friend always, as much as you may disagree,

Peer Review

the first sentence looked like something I related with, so I decided to read the rest. The title made it seem as if it was a story about them, which as it turned out it was, but it wasn't the happy ending I expected - it was an interesting twist.

Perhaps more context would be helpful towards understanding the relation between Emilia and Jonathan. Why does Emilia feel so aggressive towards Jonathan, what did he do to her?

Why are they meeting at the hotel - to reconcile, to formally break up? Who initiated the meeting? Why does Emilia not want him to find her when she wants to see his face ("It truly would be wonderful to see your face again, Jonathan") and sending him this letter?

I really like how the snarky personality of Emilia is obvious through her writing, and the way she constantly counters her own words makes her seem like an unreliable narrator, which is pretty interesting since readers will have to decipher her real thoughts.

Reviewer Comments

I liked how the voice of Emilia was strong and consistent throughout the piece! The informal way of writing also helped made me feel closer to her.

Hope my comments were helpful, you don't have to edit according to them if you don't like it. :)