“Writing to Gisella”

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In many ways it was the perfect, idyllic summer break: unexpected, taken on impulse, filled with sun, culture, and the beauty of Tuscany. And it was also filled with love; the kind of love that changes a young man’s life forever.

And then, suddenly, the dream is killed and there is nothing but vacuum. For years.

Until her letter arrives unexpectedly, finding him – them both indeed – different people.

Rick’s choice is binary. Does he – after all this time, and after the pain of a broken heart – simply ignore her letter? Or does he respond? Does he risk opening old wounds in the search for the answers to all those questions that once ravaged him?

And if he does respond, where will her letters lead him?



I received your letter a couple of days ago and to be honest I didn’t really know what to do with it. I know you sent it a while back and I guess it only managed to catch up with me thanks to people forwarding it on. I haven’t lived at the house in Bristol you sent it to for at least a couple of years now. Luckily the people who now live there are still in contact with one of my old house-mates and he sent it on to my parents… Anyway, I got it on Thursday.

The not knowing what to do with it part… I read it several times over. It was probably one of the biggest surprises I’d ever had; I mean, I was never expecting to hear from you again – certainly not after all this time. What is it, four years nearly? And I wasn’t sure if I should reply or simply… But then I decided I couldn’t ignore it. So I woke up this morning – Saturday – with the express aim of writing this letter back to you. Even now, I’m not sure where it will take me…

So many questions. So many questions.

But then maybe just one real question, when you boil it down. What happened? What happened after I left Lucca?

I came home like a man reborn. It was a Thursday, wasn’t it? The plane was late leaving Pisa, which meant I was stuck in the airport for hours; then it was really rough flying on the way home. They nearly diverted the flight, though God knows where to. Given the emotional state I was already in when I awoke in Jackson’s flat (after an awful night of not sleeping), all I needed was a dreadful journey. By the time I got back I was shattered.

The next morning I wrote to you. Probably the letter had a longer description of my travels from Lucca to Bristol. Maybe it was abominably boring, I don’t know. I sent it to the address you gave me and then waited. I know I included my address (again) and phone number (again). That weekend I rang Jackson to let him know I was back safely – and to ask if he’d seen you. I knew my letter wouldn’t have arrived with you yet, but I just wanted some kind of confirmation I suppose. And Jackson was my only conduit. He seemed fine, but said he hadn’t seen you.

I waited a few days and wrote again. Was that unreasonable of me? I’m surprised I waited that long to be honest. I felt suddenly like I’d been cast adrift, a lone sailor with no sight of the shore and longing for home. I rang Jackson – at least I tried to ring him – that following weekend. I eventually got hold of him a few days later. Had he seen you? Yes, you had been in lessons. How were you? Did you get my letters? He couldn’t answer the second question – and answered the first one pretty badly too. I asked him (maybe begged him) to get you to contact me.

I have wondered often – and four years ago, nearly all the time – what happened. The simplest explanation would be that you didn’t get my letters. Is that it? If you didn’t get them, did you assume that I didn’t care, that I was going to break your heart after all? (Mine was already crumbling!) But that notion didn’t work for me. If you hadn’t heard, then why didn’t you get in touch through Jackson? Why didn’t you call me? Or write to me?

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