The room did not, of course, suit Eleanor perfectly. The mattress was filled with feathers, but thin, and in spite of the heat of the day, the night, she found, was cold. She wished there was a fire in the small, rude hearth in the corner.
She had barely slept, when she was awakened by creaking floorboards and the clatter of a kettle in the kitchen.
It was still dark, though the small window at the end of her room faced east, and she saw a faint graying near the horizon that she recognized as coming dawn, having seen it often enough at the end of a long night out. She pulled on her trousers and a fresh shirt, tossed water on her face and slipped through the door.
At the kitchen table some distance from her, sat Joe Smith in a collarless shirt and heavy worsted trousers, braces hanging loose at her hips and a steaming cup before her. Lillian stood before the stove, in a linen dressing gown, auburn hair gathered in a loose braid down her back. She smiled and chatted in low tones until Joe reached out a hand, whereupon Lillian stepped into her husband’s embrace, her fingers smoothing Joe’s hair softly.
They did not see Eleanor and she suddenly hoped very much that they would not. She slipped back into her narrow room and sat back down on the bed. The sun slowly crept up and as it did, she opened the top drawer of her steamer trunk and took out some stationery and a pen.
I do not know if this letter will even reach you, so far from civilization do I find myself. But regardless of the fate of my words, I feel I must write them.
I have wasted every day of my life since we parted so long ago, Beth. I would sell my soul to have those days back, spent in your company, in your arms, in your heart…
Eleanor stopped and read over her words. Sentimental rot. What was wrong with her? Bette would never approve of such rubbish. She put down the pen, crushed the paper into a ball and tossed it into the cold hearth. She would make herself a fire tonight and burn it.