• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 11
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Just one more brush, he kept whispering.

Dearest Clementine,

     I’ve been meaning to write to you for so long. Since Albert’s sudden death, time has become anarchic, devilishly unpredictable. There are days that are painfully endless, others that tumble like dominos. I miss Albert very, very much. We had been together for nearly 40 years.

      Thanks for coming to the funeral, and thanks for your understanding about that hideous photo; you know me, Albert and The Dog.

      Albert’s sister, your Aunt, insisted on putting that photo on Albert's coffin. I was furious. Did you hear her at the funeral? “Albert loved Gaylord”, she told everyone. “Gaylord was Albert’s pride and joy”; “Albert lived for Gaylord “. I could have slapped her, kicked her broad, horsey bottom right out of the church.

      Darling Clementine, you have to understand. When I met Albert, I battled with him daily, so that The Dog didn’t eat with us at every meal, sleep in our bed. He would preen The Dog obsessively. Just one more brush dear, he would whisper, just one more brush. I began to understand his parents had given him pets instead of love. The Dog was Albert’s mother-lover-father all rolled into one. The Dog! The Dog!

      We almost broke off our engagement for The Dog. That photo was taken the day of the Dog Row. We’d been at Crufts with The Dog. A man had wanted to take our portrait. I refused. Albert said, “Yes”. I remember my bewilderment; Albert lost in love.


Just one more brush, he kept whispering.

      I was beginning to wonder if we should marry at all. I couldn’t live with a man who preferred a dog. Albert had barely spoken to me all day. Just one brush, he kept whispering to The Dog. Just. One. More. Brush.

      After the photographer left, I’m afraid, I lost my temper. I had to put my foot down Clementine. I had to insist. The next day we had planned to visit friends in Rome and The Dog had a sore tummy and Albert said he would cancel the trip. There was a terrible scene. I broke the dog brush. Albert cried, began to explain about his childhood, this terrible, solitary time. He told me secrets that I cannot share with you here, words that had been locked in the fortress of his heart. Burning bricks.

      Later, I sent Albert to see a friend of mine, a psychoanalyst: things changed, very slowly, but they did. The Dog became a dog. Do you understand? Just a lovely little dog in our lives.

      So, you can see why I didn’t want the photo of The Dog on the coffin, not like that. Anyway, I am drifting. I have to go and pack. I’ve bought a plane ticket Clementine. Albert may be dead. But, I’ve decided to keep on travelling. I’ll be in touch.

Kiss the baby Sophia,
Bisous à toi,
Aunt Dorothea.