By Olgivanna Lloyd Wright

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She was choosing to follow rules set by another. This was exactly the kind of obedience Alice had repeatedly demanded of Freda, but never fully received. It seemed to suggest that she had not been Freda’s true love at all, but rather just another suitor to trifle with, and then discard as easily as the others. ” Freda was ashamed. She truly wanted their history to be erased, as if it had never happened. However, Alice saw a glimmer of hope, a hint at the end of the letter. Surely Freda would not have divulged her departure had she not wanted Alice to see her off.

So she waited, enduring one anxious, blustery day after another, until finally, darkness descended, and the house fell quiet. If it continued this way, she would miss Freda Ward altogether. But Alice refused to let that happen. She had made a solemn declaration, and she intended to make good on it. In the meantime, she could find no solace in her house, no distraction through sewing or reading. Alice had no interest in food, in eating it or making it, and yet she spent most of her waking hours in the kitchen, where she had hidden the locked box.

Had she still lived there, Alice wrote, she could kiss her, but her visit was instead spent gloomily meandering around the property, collecting ivy and picking roses. Burdened by desperation, Alice’s anger deepened into hopeless melancholy. The long, tortured ruminations in her letter were but a sampling of the thoughts that oppressed her. We will never know exactly how or when Alice and Freda fell in love, but the letter suggests it happened at Miss Higbee’s, when chumming turned into something much more.

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