“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,
Haunted by the ghost of you.
Oh, take me back to the night we met.”

– Lord Huron

Alison sat in her room staring at the two objects in her hands. One was twenty-five years old but had never been used. The other was very new but carried much more history. Undecided still, she put them both down and walked over to the mirror to check herself once more.

She couldn’t remember exactly what she looked like in 1997 but she had definitely changed. The strain of three children and her own broken marriage were bound to change anyone physically. The children had been a delight, the marriage less so. She didn’t know when it had all started to go wrong, but after a long period of growing apart he had finally put his cards on the table two years ago and in Alison’s typical style she had moved to move on as quickly as she could.

“‘Too intense’ indeed,” she reflected.

But the separation had not been all bad. The children weren’t little anymore and splitting custody every week gave her plenty of time to get back into shape. She’d hit the gym and the road big time, and the results were there to see. Definitely not a 21-year-old anymore but she knew that after two years of constant training her 46-year-old body would put most half her age to shame.

Satisfied she was looking good Alison paused to survey the room. Everything ready, nothing out of place. She’d barely touched anything since she’d checked in two hours earlier bar her use of the bathroom and shower.

She regarded the two objects that she’d left on the bed a few moments earlier again. Grinding her teeth slightly she determined to read the letter one last time. There was still time to back out and she wanted to make sure she had read it properly. The one hundred and first time couldn’t hurt.

The letter was short and to the point.


I was at the Sydney Cricket Ground on the weekend (8 July 2022) and found myself sitting in almost exactly the same seats I was with you 25 years ago to the day.
I still have fond memories of our time together.
I hope life has treated you kindly.

Yours, Jeremy

The letter had arrived at her office in Bathurst eight weeks earlier. Curious how he had found her, Alison did a quick internet search of her name. The search returned dozens of results for her. She had been a shameless self-promoter over the years so it couldn’t have been too hard for Jeremy to track her down.

She then tried the same for his name. No results. That he’d handwritten her a letter and posted it should have been a clue to his searchability. But to have no online records at all was quite the achievement.

Alison persevered online but eventually had to go deep into her glory box just to find a photo of him. The picture was of Jeremy standing next to a tree and the bicycle he rode the day they’d ridden the 95km from the SGC to Wollongong in 1997 to raise money for MS research. He had a huge smile on his face. He was young, slim and strong and had thick black hair.

“I wonder what has changed?” she thought.

Jeremy had not left a return address, so he was either not wanting a reply or he had wanted her to have to work for it. If he had not wanted her to find him then why write at all? It was definitely option two. She’d initially tried to ignore it, but it wasn’t in her nature to leave any loose ends in life.

“Dammit!” she’d cursed when she’d worked that part out. “He’s in my head!”

She almost called a halt to her digging then when she’d realised that he was one-step ahead of her. But after a week of him living rent free in her head, she’d determined to find him so she could at least take back some of the power he’d somehow gotten over her with his letter.

“Double-dammit!” she cursed when she realised that he’d done it again.

Along with the photo were all Jeremy’s letters. At one time, when she had gotten engaged, she’d thought to throw them away but had ended up just putting them in a box and then not touched them for over 15 years. She opened them hoping to find an address. Bingo! The address was there clear as day, but she quickly realised that it was probably out of date by at least two decades.

Maybe there was a clue in the letters.

“Oh-la-la!” she thought. She felt herself getting giddy. Man, that man could write a good love letter. Alison reread them and then reread them all again just to be sure.

After her trip down memory lane Alison finally found what she had been looking for; a name: “Tom”. Tom had been Jeremy’s best friend, from the army, that they spent a weekend with and double dated with Tom’s wife. She remembered that Tom had funny surname that was something to do with the weather…

“Rain, snow, wind, spring, summer…Summer!” That was it. But not spelt that way. She did a google and was rewarded. “Sommer! Tom Sommer.”

The search brought back some results but not a contact. However, there were photos of Tom and more importantly his wife, Gloria.

“Dammit, dammit, dammit!”

It seemed that Gloria was also a bit of self-promoter – respect – and was easily contactable. A brief email to Gloria produced instant results. Gloria replied within the hour and after a phone call to verify Alison’s bona fides she finally had a phone number.

“Alison!” Gloria said when the penny had finally dropped. “How long has it been?”

“Twenty-five years.” Alison said with some embarrassment.

“I’d almost forgotten about you two!”

“What do you mean “almost”? We only met once twenty-five years ago?”

“Oh, we never forgot that weekend Alison. Oh my god!”

“What do you mean?”

“Are you kidding? The noises you were making from the bedroom! What was he doing to you in there?”

“Um….?” Alison felt herself beginning to go red.

“Okay-okay,” Gloria tried a different tack, “I have just one question. Was that all you, or was that all him?”

Gloria’s recollection had shaken something loose from Alison’s memory. She did remember that weekend. She did recall that afternoon when Jeremy had pleasured her so long and so much that she screamed a complete stranger’s house down. She remembered emerging from that room hours later and the look on Tom and Gloria’s faces, barely able to stop themselves from bursting out laughing, and how Gloria had kept staring at Jeremy for the remainder of that weekend.

“Who does that?” Alison asked herself. Who indeed? “DAMMIT!”

Alison spent the next few days mulling over the decision to message Jeremy. What was she setting herself up for? Hadn’t the last fifteen years taught her to not to rely on anyone but herself? Hadn’t her mother been right when she told her that a man always turns in to his father? Hadn’t she been right when she told Alison to forget about Jeremy and finish her degree?

Her mother. Alison had turned in to her mother. She texted straight away.

“Got your letter. Will be in Canberra soon. Are you free?”

Two agonizing hours later a reply.

“Love to. Just say when.”

The when was now. Alison put the letter neatly away in its envelope and picked up the second item. She looked in the mirror one last time, smiled and walked out of the door.

Jeremy was 52 now. Still physically fit but, like his father before him, nature had taken most his thick black hair but not much else. He had the good sense to embrace the change and keep it short. Ever the soldier she supposed.

Alison had spotted him before he had seen her. Sitting in a corner booth of the coffee shop below the hotel she was staying in, Jeremy read a newspaper with interest. She was almost upon him before he saw her.

Business suit and tie worn comfortably like a second skin. Glasses now put away – just for reading – he greeted her with smile and a hug. A kind smile. A warm embrace.

Alison relaxed immediately and lowered her guard. They chatted away for hours about their lives and what they – mostly she – had done in the last twenty-five years, Jeremy never once mentioning the day she had left him.

When she’d heard enough to set her mind at ease she paused and steeled herself for what was to come next.

“Why did you write to me?”

“On the way home from the SCG that day I had to walk past your school, that patch of long grass, your flat. It affected me in a way I didn’t expect.”

Alison could feel herself tearing up. That isn’t what she had meant and now she had to say it out loud.

“No. I meant, why did you write to me after what I did to you?”

Jeremy paused for a moment, took Alison by the hand and then began to speak.

“I was working in Vienna many years ago and made some acquaintances with some people from a few international organisations that were headquartered there. One day, a fellow I knew from OPEC took me aside and asked me what I was doing for a coming long weekend. As I was free, he said that I should come with him and told me to go home, pack a bag and that he’d send a car to collect me.

“The car picked me up at the appointed time and sped me to the airport but instead of heading to the main terminal it turned down a side road marked with a prominent red, capital A in a circle.

“As we approached the security gate the car slowed down just enough for the guard to visually identify the driver and, without stopping, speed through. We drove straight onto the tarmac and stopped beside a waiting luxury private jet. The driver took my bag and led me towards the plane.

“I climbed the stairs to find my colleague waiting inside. ‘My friend,’ he said warmly, ‘are you ready?’ I nodded and he turned to a waiting steward, spoke a few words in Arabic, and moments later the door closed, the plane taxied to the runway, and we took off. I won’t bore you with the details but as you may well imagine it was a flight like none other.”

Alison looked at Jeremy confused. “I don’t understand.”

“Alison, I have been on many flights since that day, and my experience has been the same as anyone else who has flown commercially. Modern air travel is a marvel that should never be taken for granted, but when you’ve flown once in a luxury private jet, flying commercial is just not the same.”

She pondered this for a moment then smiled.

“I never got to give you your Christmas present.” she said, her nerves almost getting the better of her. “I kept it all these years next to your letters and that one photo I had of you.”

Jeremy was intrigued but visibly shaken by her admission. Alison placed a small key on the table in front of him. It took him only a moment to recognize its significance.

“Hand cuffs?” he said, sounding confused. “What am I supposed to do with a key to a set of hand cuffs?”

Detecting his cheeky feigned ignorance Alison rose then placed her hotel room card on the table next to the key. “Whatever you want to lover!” She began to walk away but stopped and turned to face him. “Only don’t take too long deciding. That’s the only key and I don’t want to catch a cold.”

Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, won’t you please take a moment to leave me a review at your favourite retailer?

1 thought on “Epilogue”

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