Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Wednesday Letters (copy)

Jack and Laurel Cooper were living their dream. They had moved from the city after Jack’s retirement to run a Bed & Breakfast in Virginia’s picturesque Shenandoah Valley. Domus Jefferson or The House of Jefferson sat in the middle of heaven, nestled in the shadows of both the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains.

Success wasn’t overnight, through trial and error the B&B began to make money to the relief of eldest son, Matthew, who envisioned his inheritance fueling fires in the quaint fireplaces.

One of the Cooper’s favorite regulars was an eccentric widow woman named Anna Belle Prestwich. Her home, a Southern mansion reportedly worth half a million, was five miles down the road and easily seen through barren trees in the winter. Described as cavernous, the mansion paled in comparison to the goings and comings of the Cooper’s warm Domus Jefferson.

Over the years Anna Belle developed quite a routine at the inn. With a stack of romances and her favorite cat, Castro, she whiled away the day in her $190 room—insisting on paying $300—stirring only for bathroom breaks or tea. The Coopers were weary of waiting on her for one reason, she over tipped. It was nice at first, but really unnecessary. Unbeknownst to Anna Belle, they began to donate the money to a children’s charity in Washington, D.C. which now sported a new basketball court among other niceties.

Over the years, health became an issue for both Jack and Laurel. Jack had cancer and Laurel had a heart murmur, but on the night of April 13, 1988, Jack was in trouble. It could be seen in his sunken eyes and papery skin; He was tired.

Laurel tried not to wake Jack as she eased beside him in their bed. Through her tears, Jack’s voice interrupted with, “Hi.” She quietly asked how he felt, was he dizzy, and he quietly answered, “Nope, peachy.”

It was this moment, as he turned towards his wife, she had a stroke. He shook her. He crawled out of the bed for the phone. He fell on top of the lamp and passed out. He came to and struggling to get back in the bed. Finally, he lay next to her still warm body and began to cry. Ten minutes passed until he made a move for the nightstand and Domus Jefferson stationery. Tonight he would write the last Wednesday love letter to his wife.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a love story in Jason F. Wright’s The Wednesday Letter.