I've spent the entire day ignoring the letter and Last Will and Testament of Bernadette Cynthia Healy. She's conjured up some imaginary scheme from beyond the grave to haunt me in my own final years and I cannot let her win. I never let her win my husband all those years ago. I shan't let her get the better of me while I still have my wits about me.
I remember how Jonathon and I met all those years ago. The war had just ended and I was a young woman of seventeen. My family and I were fortunate enough not to suffer many casualties as we resided in the countryside. My father was too old for conscription and my mother too infirm. I have no siblings, in fact I think my parents were rather surprised when I was born in 1928, having given up on the idea of having children.
We did not return to London until my eighteenth year and though we were still shocked by how much our beloved city had changed, we adapted. Or rather I adapted and my parents allowed me to live in London with some distant relatives while they continued to play backgammon in the countryside. I think it's how they'd always imagined they would spend their dotage – rather than looking after an excitable and opinionated teenager.
London was different to how I remembered it when I left at the age of eleven, but I still carried that confidence of youth and my tongue used to get me in all sorts of trouble. It was Jonathon, a University student at the time, after hearing me argue in the library with another student about the start of the war (which I shall admit I knew very little about), who had the audacity to ask me what it was I was doing in the library if I wasn't a student.
I didn't know what to say to that. And that was always Jonathon's way; he'd watch you talk and gesticulate and make your grand assumptions and then when you least expect it, he'd ask you a question that leaves you cold, causing you to question your own motives. It's why he was a brilliant lawyer and one of the reasons why I fell in love with him.
He was right of course – I shouldn't have been in the library. I'd told Mrs Normanton (my mother's second cousin twice removed, I believe) I was only going for a short walk and many hours had passed, and possibly an alcoholic beverage of sorts, and I disliked Jonathon for pointing out my intentions. Especially as they weren't at all honourable.
I was surprised when he offered to walk me home, and I remember that I refused to give him a straight answer. Back in those days I had such a fiery temper and I wasn't one to forgive even the slightest of mistakes – how times changed over the course of our relationship and eventual marriage.
But walk me home he did. Mrs Normanton nearly died a dozen deaths when I turned up several hours later than expected with a man at my arm. I was in such an obstreperous mood I couldn't have placated her, even had I wanted to, but Jonathon came to my rescue and charmed the tweed off of my mother's second cousin twice removed.
The following day Jonathon was outside the front door with flowers, not for me, but for the bewildered Mrs Normanton. She allowed me out into the streets of London with this stranger, not even pausing to ask what time I would be home. It still makes me smile when I think of how Jonathon liked to get his way.
Those first few promenades around the parks of London, Jonathon taught me how to argue. Not so much that we argued, but rather he taught me how to construct an argument, and to see from the other person's perspective. It was quite the learning experience.
Again I'm sitting in my favourite armchair as I reminisce about the start of my love affair with Jonathon. Even though it has been ten years since he died, every day I ache for him in ways I never thought possible. He was so smart and calculated, manipulative even, and I don't mean that in a derogatory way. It was just how he was.
I smile, eyes half closed as I try and ignore the letters on the desk. Only Mrs Normanton could ever get the best of Jonathon, and he was devastated when she passed away.
After a month of courtship, I received a letter from my parents – they were coming to visit in the hope of meeting my new beau. Apparently Mrs Normanton wasn't so easily deceived and placated with bouquets of flowers and she'd written to my parents, who were no doubt worried about their daughter's reputation.
I was mortified and could barely bring up the subject of meeting my parents to Jonathon, but he took it all in his stride. He said he expected nothing less from caring parents and even teased me by saying that I was clearly ashamed of him.
Nothing was farther from the truth. I was madly in love with this man and I didn't want my parents to start putting pressure on an engagement. I was sure it would make Jonathon run a mile, and in my naïve stubbornness I would have followed.
Of course I never should have worried. Jonathon was a prime example of a man who had made the most of the war, and was touched by the monstrosities I knew nothing about. I was astounded as I listened to him talk about his experiences with my parents. I had never really thought to ask about how the war had affected him. I was too privileged to realise that the war had damaged our men and our country so much, but I had just been a child. When Jonathon left, I overheard my parents talking about him; they were impressed by his humility and his obvious intelligence. I blushed with pride for a moment before realising I had never taken an interest in Jonathon.