Alexander felt a swell of gratefulness for his own good fortune – family support to live so close to Uni, more than compatible house-share companions, the promise of ongoing work with its small income, and doing what he loved since he’d gained his commercial flying licence. His hectic lifestyle helped to quash most of his discontent because of Freya’s absence. That was the thought that sparked his pensive mood. Letters and words were not his forte, but their efforts to communicate were no salve for either of them. They’d both run out of the right sort of words.
It bothered him that he could not articulate his ideas for their future well enough to make it work on the page. Or help Freya to grasp the power of even more immediate things like the exhilaration, exultation even, that came with flying and seeing great tracts of country from above, seeing part of a greater whole, being attuned to experience beyond the now, beyond self, beyond family, even beyond his connection with her; the indescribable sense of awe, being in tune somehow at the same time with the imponderables of galaxies and universe – and the mundane of careful trust in the miracle of the responsive machines that took him there, because of the industry and expertise of reliable maintenance staff. If he could just take her up. He knew she’d understand.
A swell of yearning flooded. He leaned forward to grab the handlebar as a weakness flowed through him. Then he thought, she knows already. Freya was good at reading between the lines.
He remembered something from her last letter. It was the same for her. It is troubling that I am learning so much that matters through being in touch with life and sickness, courage and fear, birth and death; and can’t share it with you properly. Almost daily I feel I am being changed into a more real person, building on what was already there and ready to grow more. Somehow it binds me more closely to the wonderful connection we have, even though it feels one-sided because I cannot describe it to you well enough in letters. Perhaps that’s how existence works, the passage of time and our new experiences turn fledgling love into grown-up love. Instinct tells me the same is happening for you even though the ways are different.
God or some power, grant that we can be together soon to rejoice in our mutual growth. I used to accept Mama’s view of religion in a passive sort of way, but my experience here with Gramma has pretty much destroyed all that. She seems to use religion; it’s not how I understood belief might translate into the everyday world.’
Alexander deliberately clenched the muscles of arms and legs, drawing himself back to full physical control. What they needed was a solution. He’d tried phoning more often since he was earning, but it hadn’t been a great success. Time differences, shifts, changes to shifts, Gramma not answering or leaving the phone off the hook meant Freya often didn’t know he’d rung unless Mrs Brown answered, and sometimes he was working extra hours when she was able to ring him. At least his house-mates let him know when he’d lost out on a call.
When they did connect, after mundane greetings they both seemed inhibited by the randomness of contact and distance and an inability to express themselves fully. It was all very frustrating; no real sharing of the amazing growth they were both experiencing. Everything seemed to make this separation from Freya harder than it needed to be. And Max had said last night, ‘You haven’t had a letter from that girl of yours for a bit. Think she’s cooling off?’
He replayed the conversation.
‘Nah, we’re both too busy, time-shy. Freya has a lot on her plate, with double studies and a demanding grandmother who’s not well. She used to get a lot of help from a friend who lived there, but Kirsty just got married and moved away so it’s much harder for Freya. Although we hoped for better, it’s possible she’ll get home early next year if the old woman will risk the travel then. I’ve been distracted by anxiety about prac teaching and haven’t been writing as much as I’d like. I’ll finish a letter tonight.’
‘I’ll keep you to that.’
‘I’ve been setting all my flight earnings aside. If Freya’s going to be stuck beyond the end of the year, I’m thinking of a visit in the summer holiday, as soon as my last exam is done, maybe stay over Christmas. I won’t tell her in case it doesn’t come off.’
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