Stories that fly under a dark banner.

Part 2: A Letter from Apple

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For the attention of Alan and anyone else he may give this to:

I have a friend called Isabel Rose, (Iz for short.) We knew each other at university through another friend. We would talk, but didn’t really get on that well.

When I left university I started working for a company in Shoreditch and, living in Croydon, had a lengthy journey home every night pushing my way through all the other millions of people trying to make it home before 7pm. A lot of the time, we would all pile out of the office at 5.30 and head for the nearest pub. This is how we became good friends.

When she finish uni, Iz went onto do a masters in museums and archives at the UCL, specializing in Near East Religion. She landed a fellowship at the British Museum handling Egyptian artifacts in particular the Coptic manuscripts and artifacts, (a very small collection by her account.)

In Autumn 2002 I was holed up for the night in a pub called the Cambridge and bumped into her on the stairs. I didn’t recognise her at first. She had always worn glasses at uni with long mousy hair. She had slimmed a bit and had contacts and was now a redhead with much shorter hair. After a couple of drinks, I plucked up the courage to say hello and we started discussing the bad old days and asking after long forgotten friends. She was still staying in a student house in Islington and we agreed that we would meet again to catch up on everything.

So it happened that every friday night, (more or less,) we would meet and eat. She would unload all her troubles and I would greive for my career as a historian now firmly behind me and filed under, “No longer valid.” This happened for about 6 months and it was great.

Iz painted a colourful picture of all of those around her. Stuffy old profs with no concept of sexual equality. Weasly investors sniffing around departments to fund bizarre projects. We had a great time scouting out potential boyfriends in the pubs around Oxford street and nearly scored several times. Problem was Iz was fussy.

It was march the next year when we stopped meeting up. I got a text one Friday saying, “got a date!” We met up on the Sunday near the Serpentine, (she would never come to Croydon,) and she told me all about him. His name was Alan, (you,) and he worked with Sotherby’s underwriting artifacts. She was planning a big exhibition of Coptic artwork, the biggest to visit Britian so far and he had come to risk asses. They got chatting about the patron, some greek businessman and one thing led to another before she found herself whisked off to a swanky restaurant to eat. He had been due to fly to Barcelona the next day so she agreed to go onto a hotel near heathrow the next day.

I think its fair to say she did some flying of her own that night, I spare the details she was very particular about all of them. As we walked back to the tube her feet didn’t touch the ground.

It was several weeks later that I realised we were drifting apart. We had only made one friday meet up after work and I had started spending more time with the work crowd which was fankly no good for me. We started writing letters to each other and it stayed that way througout the summer. I had a couple of very drunken and disastrouse nights out and she wrote how they were moving into his place and redecorating. I wasn’t bitter. I missed her but she was happy and what more could I do? Work was picking up and I was reuctantly taking a payrise and moving up a grade.

I had written her off as living happily ever after until she called me in tears late in October.

Iz was a mess. She was wearing her glasses having lost her contacts and her hair had grown out wild again, (aparrently he had liked it longer.) She had moved out and was running out of money as her fellowship was coming to an end. She had found an email from another woman in his laptop. When she quizzed him about it, he angrily told her all the details.

She was younger, dark haired and worked at Sotheby’s with him. It had started on another trip to Barcelona. They were going together and staying at the same hotel where Iz had first been with him. One thing led to another and they were in each others arms.

It had all happened a month ago, and Iz was in pieces. I took her back to Croydon for the weekend. I cut her hair and gave her what money I could spare. She ate Sunday lunch with me and brightened a little but when she left it was evident it wasn’t over. I left her at the station where she promised to keep in touch and I never heard from her for nearly 5 years.

She left no forwarding address and her mobile number ceased to take calls a month later. Iz just vanished.

Before you think I abandoned her, think again. I checked that she was still alive. After she had been of the radar for a week, I phoned the British Museum and asked if she was available. She was in a meeting. Iz had decided it was best to avoid me. After all, she now owed me money.

I didn’t forget her, just had other things going on. My life moved on at frightening pace. I moved companies in 2005, taking a mangerial position, (won’t bore you with details,) and I’ve been working there since. I moved to flat near Teddington lock far enough from the river to be safe from the flooding. I still live alone though not through trying and there have been some close moments but not close enough to mention.

Everything ticked along nicely in my life until July of this year when I received a parcel from Cairo. The lovely old couple who lived in my old house in Croyden had forwarded it to me. When I opened it, I had no idea what it contained, and it’s had me looking over my shoulder ever since. I can’t live with this any more so I’ve made a decision. I shall give it to the person who I feel is responsoble for the mess my friend is in. I’m giving it to Alan. Let him decide who should see it and who shouldn’t.

There’s nothing in here now that could lead anyone to Iz and if it were to fall into the public domain it would only work to harm those who hunt her. To be rid of this is to be free again.

A. Blackburn

Part 3: A letter from Isabel

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