Dear Miss Jones,
I am writing you this letter because, well, recent events compel me to do so.
Let me begin with a few clarifications, in order to assuage your fears:
- I did not topple that vase in the foyer that evening. The wind knocked it down for you forgot to close the window before you went to bed;
- I am not responsible for the creaking sounds you hear at night in the corridor. My house, or rather your house – for this dwelling is now legally yours – is, as you are well aware, extremely old. It contracts and expands according to the weather;
- The noises you hear at night are not “voices” or “whispers” but are rather the crackling of the leaves in the trees outside, and the sounds you described as “sinister laughter” or “perverse groaning” are in fact the cries of wild beasts that are to be found aplenty in the forest beyond the courtyard;
- As a rule, I do not play the pianoforte whenever you are around. I always make sure that you are not inside the house whenever my mood moves me to play a few sonatas. I am fond of these pieces for they remind me of my childhood and of my dear mother. Perhaps what you hear when you arrive home are the faint echoes of the notes I have generated in the morning. Let me promise you that from now on, I will only limit my time at the pianoforte to half an hour, so that the music will not linger into the evening;
- You might have detected the faint scent of flowers and candles in the library. Do not be alarmed by them, my dear madam. My sister, Antonina, was fond of collecting roses, lilacs, and lilies when she was very little. She kept them tucked in between the pages of her letters and she sealed them with candle wax. You can find them on the top shelf of the bookcase behind my, or rather your, desk. I don’t object to you perusing them – my sister’s letters and collection of flowers, that is; and I don’t think she would mind it, either – but I fear that going up the wooden ladder might not be a very prudent thing to do. In fact, I strongly advise you against it, for I worry for your safety;
- The sensation that woke you up that particular evening – the feeling of being touched in the forehead – has, alas, a supernatural cause. I am terribly sorry to confirm your suspicions. The truth is, my sister is very fond of you, and despite my repeated warnings never, ever to disturb you or cause you alarm or distress, she still went ahead and sat by your bed. I was in the study when I heard your scream. She’s a careless, foolish, and headstrong girl! But let me assure you that she meant you no harm. She only wanted to keep you company that night for you were, as she told me, quite sad about something or someone. That does not excuse her, however. She promised me never to do it again;
- I assure you, madam, that I have a high respect for your privacy. I do not trespass into your bedroom or bathroom at any time of the day, whether you are at home or not. It is true that I can pass through walls, but I can’t see through them, so there is no reason to worry. I also keep my distance at all times. I make sure that I am never less than 20 feet from you. When you are in the foyer, I am in the living room. When you are in the living room, I am in the veranda. When you are in the veranda, I am in the study. When you are in the study, I go back to the foyer;
- Here, however, I am going to admit to a real mistake, madam: the “clapping” sound that you suspected you heard just the other day was indeed a “clapping” sound, and the exclamations of “bravo, bravo!” which followed them were indeed exclamations of “bravo, bravo!”. You see, your readings of certain passages of Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo were masterful and I couldn’t help but praise you for your performance. Superb, simply superb! But I absolutely understand why you “freaked out” (your term) and stormed out of the house. My deepest, sincerest apologies, madam. I assure you that the next time you will decide to read aloud a story, or sing a song, or dance to the tune of your favorite music – I confess that I am still not used to what you call “Radiohead”, “Coldplay”, and these other Modern pieces of music – I will keep my mouth shut. Your readings, singing, and dancing are the things I look forward to every single day.
Madam, this house won’t be the same without you. The bedrooms, the study, the library and all of the books therein, the foyer, the living room, the veranda, the paintings, the China, the furniture, the sculptures, the courtyard, the garden, and every square inch of this mansion are yours. These are all for you. They exist for you. I beg you, kindly reconsider your plan of leaving. I am sure that this is simply a matter of misunderstanding. Forgive me for saying so, but I believe that your wish of relocating to a new residence might be too hasty, considering that your stay here has not exceeded a month. The house will grieve if you will insist on going away. Antonina, too, will grieve. I will grieve. And eternity shall pass us by once again.
Jaime Sebastian del Fierro
Please forgive me for being too liberal in the expression of my feelings, but I have to say that if you go away, I will miss the smell of your cooking. The kitchen has gotten used to the smell of your unusual recipes. I will miss seeing you brush your long hair in my mother’s dresser. My parents’ portraits that hang on the room’s walls always look at you with admiration and approval. I will miss hearing your steps in the stairs. There is always a musical quality to the sound of your heels whether you’re walking or running. I will miss your voice, shadow, and presence.
There are still many things I want to say. For instance, the garden will wither away without a lady to look after them, and even if I could take care of them myself, what good will the sight of roses bring me? One eventually tires of looking at roses. I have many thing I want to say, but I must stop here.