A Letter from Mary Aurory

A letter from Mary Aurory

By Naomi Alderman, 2011

Dear Murray,

I can't write to Spencer. He'll start looking at postmarks and figuring things out. But listen, you have to convince him somehow to stop. 

I know he's putting them where I can see them. Sometimes I think he must be watching me, following me. I never see him but it's like he's everywhere now. And it’s not right, Murray. It’s not good for him, and I hate it. Please, tell him to stop. 

And he’ll say no, he has to apologise. But he doesn’t. He has. I’ve understood. But whether or not he’s sorry is almost nothing of it, you know. It’s not just about him: his regret, his sorrow. Tell him if I wanted to find him, I’d find him. Tell him he’s not hard to find. Tell him women aren’t a puzzle to be solved. Tell him it’s not up to him to go questing for me, a knight with a white pot of paint. Tell him he has to let me go. 

Listen, tell him everyone gets to lock their own room. He’ll understand that. Tell him everyone’s doors only open from the inside. All you can do otherwise is press your ear to the door. And it’s not comfortable, doing that. No one wants you to. Other people will spot you there eventually with your ear pressed to the door, eavesdropping. There’s a reason people don’t do that. 

Listen, tell him if someone won’t let you in you can’t keep trying to get in. 

And you can’t keep something you love locked up, you know. Even if he found me, even if he made me come back. And you can’t break into that secret room. You could break down the door, but then you’d destroy it. Once you smashed into that locked room you’d find nothing in there worth the price of the destruction. You’d never get the door to fit right again. Once you’ve cut something open, you’ve killed it. 

Some wounds you just have to bear. You’re not wrong to say I miss him, but that doesn’t mean I want him back. Some scars are worth the carrying.

I know this will hurt him, I know it will. But if you need to, tell him this: I make better art without him. It’s true, Murray. And he absolutely understands that we answer to the art first. Nothing if not that, remember? Remember the answer to the question of what we must do with the life that remains to us? 

You don’t have to own everything you love. 

It’s enough to look through the glass at it, sometimes. 

Sometimes it’s just enough to know that it exists. 

Remember Dantes? He got her back, but the journey destroyed everything about him that she'd loved to begin with. Abbe's treasure isn't worth the price. 

Tell him, Murray. Tell him he’s right, Mary Aurory’s sorry. But tell him to stop. Please.

Mary Aurory

Naomi Alderman is a novelist, author of the Orange New Writers Award-winning: Disobedience and The Lessons. She also writes games in which the real world and the virtual world interact. See her note about this letter.