Author’s Note: So this has also been in the back of my mind for a bit now. A fellow writer mentioned doing a story all in letters, and I thought the idea was intriguing but not my style. I don’t think that it would work to tell all of this story, but I had the opening bit of the first letter come to me, and I thought I’d try it as well.
Plus it would be a different sort of historical mystery than I usually end up with, and that’s something worth exploring as well.
If you think this should be a serial on the site, let me know (comment, social media, etc.)
I received your letter this morning and confess that I puzzled over it a great deal. You speak with such intimacy, but I cannot help thinking that we are both somehow the victim of a malcontent. You see, I cannot recall your name, your face, or any of the details you included. If a man has, in fact, introduced himself to you purporting to be Robert John Winston the third, then we do have some kind of a dilemma.
Due to my present circumstances, I have not traveled in some time, and I do not think I ever made it to the town from which your letter came. Nor do I recall any lady such as yourself in whose company I spent any length of time.
I would request, then, further information on what this man said, did, and promised, for I fear he has misrepresented me in the worst sort of way. If he did take advantage of you in any way, I will do what I can to set things right. I cannot allow someone to abuse my name and my reputation in this manner.
Since your memory seems to have failed you, I have inclosed this photograph to remind you of the particulars. If you are, as you claim, unfamiliar with me or the events with which I spoke of in my letter, then I shall be surprised, but I cannot think that you are.
Considering that your departure came more than six months previous, that you left no word nor made any effort to contact me after the events which I detailed in my letter—one which is hardly the first missive I have sent, I find your conduct not only ungentlemanly but also quite cowardly. If you were not willing to stay with the commitment that you made, you had only to say so. This is not a game that I find at all amusing, nor do I care to play this one with you as well.
I ask that you cease any further attempts to avoid my letters or pretend ignorance of the situation that you left me in. I do not believe we are dealing with any malcontent other than you yourself, and I refuse to acknowledge such a farcical excuse.
Though it will bring my family considerable shame and me all the more so, you may end your dealings with me with what little honor you have left and divorce me. I do not ask for any great sum of money, but if you will not even so much as acknowledge the fact that you are, indeed, my husband, then kindly relinquish those rights legally as well. I have no desire to be attached to a man who has treated me in such a manner, nor do I feel that it is worth arguing with you over this matter.
You need not bother contacting me directly if that is what is so distasteful or impossible for you. Have your family’s lawyer draw up the papers and send them to me. I will sign them. I want no part of man who cannot remain faithful for even one year.
Or perhaps Mrs. Winston is a better form of address, for I do think your wedding photograph is rather a compelling image.
Here you have me at quite a loss. I do not understand, as that man beside you bears more than a passing resemblance to me, but I swear to you—I have never met you, nor am I married. These are things that I assure you I would remember. I have been overseas for the past two years, and it is quite impossible that we could have met, for the date on the back is one where I was taken in wounded to the field hospital. If you should wish for my military records, I shall have them soon, as I have already initiated an inquiry there, though when you see me, I should think it would be rather obvious what happened.
Unless this is some kind of cruel jest on your part, we have both been victimized by this man. He has used you far worse than me, but he did so by employing my name and everything that goes with it. I am making arrangements to travel to speak to you in person as soon as I have the records unless you should like to come here instead.
If you did not create this as a farce of your own, I do hope you will be willing to work with me to resolve this matter. I am not certain how that might be done, but I assure you, I am not a coward, nor am I trying to be less than a gentleman. I enclose a picture my mother insisted upon before I left for the front.
You can see, of course, that I have some features in common with the man you knew, but I am not that man.
I fear you must come here in person, nothing less would satisfy, and in addition to it, my current poor health will not allow me to do any traveling.
I left out a detail in my previous letters as I thought it was perhaps what made you act so cowardly, and I do not know if that has changed at all or what has taken place, since it seems you may indeed have been elsewhere. Nevertheless, it is the reason that I am now confined to my bed as the doctor says this ordeal of mine has taken too much of a toll on my body. I am not supposed to move, not after the way your letters affected me. Would that I was not so weak in spirit and will and apparently in body as well. It seems I was not capable of resisting any part of your… charm, and that is the misfortune I now suffer.
That is to say—no, I do not wish to write it. You will see when you come.
There will be no hiding it.
I am pregnant.