CURIOSPONDENCE THE FIRST:
Jackson and Nicoletta.
May 16th, 1886
My Darling Nicoletta,
This is the first letter I am sending you from my journey, though truth be told, I have only been at sea for one week so there is not much yet to report. It already feels like a lifetime since you and little Jack Jr. were at the port to see me off. Ah, the folly of time! The more one longs for their beloved, the more keenly one senses the passage of mere minutes and days.
Luckily, I find myself in capable hands. The crew of the Sirena are too kind to allow a humble explorer such as myself to join them as they deliver cargos to exotic lands, though the quarters are cramped, and the food leaves much to be desired. I will not allow this to deter me from a lively spirit of adventure!
I am looking forward to our first port of call, Casablanca, Morocco, and will send more correspondence then.
May 23rd, 1886
I do hope this letter reaches you. According to your itinerary you should be in Morocco now for some time, and I have been quite eager to try out this carrier pigeon I purchased from Flannery’s. It is the latest craze, you see; all the other ladies have one and it would be most embarrassing to be the only one without such a luxury. It was not inexpensive, but I am confident you will agree it was a savvy purchase on my part. If only I could prevent Miss Kitty from eyeing the bird so hungrily!
Jack Jr. is doing as well as can be, considering he has no male influence in his life at the moment. Of course, there is his caretaker, Jeremiah, but we all know how he is! Well, I must be off! I am meeting the ladies for croquet.
May 29th, 1886
I confess I was rather alarmed to find this carrier pigeon beating at my window. Poor thing looks rather worse for wear. In fact, I am quite loathe to send it back in its present condition. I do hope you did not spend too much on such a sickly looking specimen.
Morocco is quite a spectacular place. You would no doubt love the markets and bazaars. All manner of silk, jewels, and pottery are to be found here. In fact, I happened upon quite an interesting trinket that I shall be shipping to you separately – a little wooden monkey head with rubies for eyes. The craftsmanship is quite impressive and I was able to convince the vendor to part with it at an astonishingly low price. In fact, he seemed almost glad to be rid of it!
Now I must be off to explore some neighboring temples and villages. You and Jack Jr. shall remain in my thoughts.
June 4th, 1886
I am quite flattered that you would think to send me gifts from your journeys, but I can not help but question the content of your generosity – a monkey head? Darling, I am loathe to say it, but I find the thing rather detestable. Could you not have sent a nice necklace or scarf instead?
It is not only I who finds objection with the thing – Miss Kitty has been hissing at it furiously, and there is really no place where I can display it tastefully.
So I have given it to Jack Jr., who seems quite taken with it, and he has placed it on his bed-stand with his pirate toys. I think he is old enough to know not to try and ingest it.
Perhaps next time recall that I am a delicate woman and that my favorite color is yellow.
Ah, the maid is here. I must make myself scarce by going to town.
June 14th, 1886
Really, darling, I must insist you cease using this poor pigeon. I highly doubt it will survive another journey abroad. It would be most cruel to subject it to another errand! The post may be slower, but it is every bit as reliable, dear.
I am sorry to hear you did not appreciate the monkey head. In my excitement, I often forget that you do not share my penchant for mysterious oddities. I shall find a scarf on my next visit to town, but I am presently about to explore a magnificent temple in the jungle.
It was quite a trial finding a group of locals that I could convince to guide me here. They will not stop speaking of some fearsome deity of theirs, “Simchak”. They claim there is a curse set upon the temple, but naturally I do not believe in such silliness. I will let you know what I find! Is Jack Jr. doing well with his studies?
June 26th, 1886
I would most appreciate it if you would return my pigeon to me. It is an embarrassment to have to go to the post office like a commoner.
Miss Rosenthal spied me buying stamps and she did smirk! By this time tomorrow, all the ladies will know that I am forced to perform menial tasks and that will not do! Now I must organize a fancy tea party to make up for it. I shant invite Miss Rosenthal, I don’t think. On the other hand, it may be good to include her so she might see how well off I truly am. Of course, this means I shall have to order a new dinette. Our current model is terrible out of fashion.
As for Jack Jr.’s studies, you might recall that he is only 3 years old, and therefore not at school. I will say that he has been quite sullen of late. He must miss his father.
July 3rd, 1886
Alright, darling. I am returning your poor bird, but I do not have much faith that this letter shall reach you. I was hoping to find treasure in the Temple of Simchak that could perhaps afford us the opportunity to indulge in luxuries such as new furnishings, but until that happens, it may be prudent to curb our spending, yes?
I am glad to report that I did not encounter any curses whilst in the temple, though there were some booby traps leading to the central rooms. All of our crew, save one unlucky soul, were able to avoid the dastardly traps.
I did discover a broken figure of the Simchak deity in the center of the temple. It would have made for an interesting museum piece, but its head was missing, alas.
I will admit the place was rather eerie and I have no desire to return there. A shame for the poor fellow whose body we were forced to leave behind.
P.S. Tell Jack Jr. to buck up!
July 13th, 1886
What on earth have you done to mistreat my pigeon so? He arrived here looking like death and now he refuses to fly at all! I am not liking this turn of events, darling.
Your last correspondence sent chills down my spine and I do not wish to hear any more about temples, cursed or otherwise.
Furthermore, Jack Jr. is vexing me! He has begun to act most erratically. Just today, I caught him in the act of attempting to cut off Miss Kitty’s tail! Can you imagine? It is a most unwelcome distraction for the planning of my tea party. I ordered the dinette set before I received your response, and it is already in place, so there is no way I shall be returning it now.
Rest assured, it looks very fashionable and all the ladies will be suitably impressed.
Now I must go. There was just a frightful crash in the other room and Jeremiah has screamed… no doubt Jack Jr. is up to no good!
July 18th, 1886
I pray this letter reaches you in time. I have discovered something terribly unfortunate and I fear I have made a grave error in sending you that monkey head. You must send it back at once!
It seems it is the missing head of the deity, Simchak, from the temple. We have been behest by earthquakes and the like. You recall the man we thought we left for dead in the temple? He has returned! I can barely form the words to describe –
I must go.
July 20th, 1886
My party was a disaster of the highest magnitude! Currently, I am seeking refuge in the crawlspace beneath the stairs. Can you imagine – a refined lady such as myself being forced to hide from her own son?
Jack Jr. is a monster!
He tore upon our party – I swear his eyes were glowing red! The ladies scattered in horror – my best porcelain was smashed!
I think Miss Rosenthal did not make it out alive, though I can not honestly say I feel all too bad about that.
You had best come home right away and deal with your son!
P.S. The ladies adored the new dinette. But it is all torn up now, so that is that.
July 20th, 1886
I am being held captive by the spirits of the Simchak Temple and they will not free me until the moneky head is reunited with the body. Please, please send help and send back that cursed head!
Come to think of it, I am not altogether sure how I am to send this letter whilst I am in captivity.
I fear this may well be the end.
July 21st, 1886
Thank you ever so much for the gift. It is the most perfect thing. I will come visit you soon and express my appreciation in person, provided you are still well. It is with regret that that I must report that mother shall not be accompanying me on my voyage. Now I must go. I hear Miss Kitty yowling. She must have emerged from her hiding spot…
© 2010 Tania del Rio
This article was written by Tania