They started writing in high school. Brief, stilted letters from Linda struggling with schoolgirl French, and from Amelie, longer, beautifully typed epistles in English. It began at the instigation of Linda’s language teacher, but after struggling to describe the beautiful apple tree in her garden, Linda soon abandoned writing in French. The exchange of ideas, descriptions of homes and discussions on boys and school flowed much easier in English.
Amelie too had an apple tree visible through her window. The beautiful descriptions of the French countryside and the characters that lived in her small village kept Linda entertained. She would hover around the mailbox and sit with the letter under the apple tree – dreaming of France. Each letter she wrote began with a description of her tree. Fruiting, bare, budding, leafy green, or in blossom. No matter what time of year, she loved that tree.
Amelie began her letters the same way.
‘Today I picked a juicy red apple and ate it while reading your letter.’
‘The last of the leaves have fallen; I am reading your letter rugged up against the cold,’ Linda would reply.
‘The sun is shining and the blossoms are falling softly.’
‘Here the winds have quickened and the leaves are turning.’
Linda dreamed of visiting France, of seeing the beautiful areas that Emilie described, and of meeting her friend…..
Linda packed for her holiday, ready to surprise her longtime friend. The mail and the taxi arrived together. Seeing the French postmark, Linda smiled; she would read the letter on the plane.
Amelie’s parents wrote sad news. Amelie had finally succumbed to her illness, but they would still love to meet Linda. Her letters had given Amelie an escape from illness. Stunned, Linda arrived at a suburban address and was shown Amelie’s room. Her gaze took in the silent heart monitor, the type-to-text recorder and the brick wall visible through the window. Next to the window was a large painting of a rural French scene and an apple tree covered in blossoms.
Through her tears, Linda imagined a vibrant Amelie reading letters under that apple tree.
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Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
2 years ago

Bittersweet with goosebumps and tissues – great story, Mary ❤️

2 years ago

This beautifully written story brought tears to my eyes. I’d like to think that the letters and imagining the apple tree in all seasons helped make Amelie’s life easier, in spite of her illness. Can you tell us what the title means in English? I looked it up, but there were several interpretations. What does it mean to you, as the author? It’s a memorable title, by the way.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
2 years ago

What a beautifully crafted story of friendship. I think it is probably the wish of most young people with a terminal illness to not be seen as different, and having a pen friend would have granted that to Amelie. A sad but satisfying read.

musing mind
musing mind(@musing-mind)
2 years ago

Letters always leave us with so much warmth and something to hold on to. Loved your story emphasizing this fact.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
2 years ago

What a lovely way to show and describe that part of human nature that surpasses suffering. Thank you Mary, you wrote this wonderfully.

Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi(@katy-bizi)
2 years ago

This story brought me great pain while I was reading it. However, sadness is a part of life and so the tears caused by this writing are quite fitting. Well done on a great story!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

I love it, Mary. It brings my tears falling. You portray the true meaning of friendship in this story. Well done.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Mary Wallace
1 year ago

You’re welcome, Mary.

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