(Based on the film by Herman Raucher, starring Anthony Newley, Sandy Dennis and Theodore Bikel--This story is dedicated with deepest love to them all)
It is November the first again. November is your name and your rabbity ways. Your gamin smile and giggle. That faraway look in your eyes that says sadness. Your body warm with mine and your heart beating irregularly. Your hair of gold and our first night together under the winter sky coming on us, as we watched it through your skylight. Your smallness and your tall ideas. Your courage and your pills and your deepest generosity and you are gone now, so long ago, caught in the mantrap or woman trap of mortality. Alonzo too. And all the days from then to now have taken a man and changed him.
You taught me love, Sara. You taught me we couldn't live in cardboard boxes like I did and like so many people do. You changed my world, Sara. You have caught New York in a winter globe and have given it to me, and I so wanted to save you, to make you not ill, to see Christmas in and the New Year too. I write you these letters once a week, you know. And I like to think you do indeed know. From England to America, from a driving test renewal you made me fail, to here, and I fell in love with your winsomeness and the fact I couldn't tell you sometimes between woman and child.
I doubt, Sara, and I still despair, but I cannot see your grave site for that will have finality written on it, but you are in my bloodstream and I find myself happy and weeping at odd moments. Who taught you my darling? Who taught your hands and your mouth and your legs? Who taught your golden head to conquer me so beautifully? Where I live now is far from Manhattan. I live in a comfortable pine house on the edge of a copse of woods. It is snowing now, which I see outside my writing room window. It is almost dusk, and I find my heart so perfectly cast with yours.
It takes a brave man to be in love with a dream for over 35 years. It takes a brave man or just perhaps a stubborn one not to give up trying to find you, trying to make you real again, or were you ever real? I know the Figis brothers were and every creak and tremble on that bed floor landing I never forgot. I know dear Alonzo was real for you and for me. I wish you alive. I pray often when I never prayed before you came running into my heart, and when you were in there, you rescheduled everything. I got out of the box business for one thing. I kept feeling your delicate bones and your warm breasts at my mouth and your sigh like from a faraway place. You were poetry and you were the entire world smoothed over easily as if you made gingham out of everything there was and is.
I became a writer, Sara. I became a believer in chasing rainbows and you at the end of them. My hair has gone gray. My British accent has become muted. My dancing eyes no longer dance. The quips come hard or not at all. My eyebrows thick as ever are now gray as well. My clowny face has become lined with age. My mouth so expressive once is not that anymore, for on its lips constantly is your name and I love you more with every day that passes. I cling to you as I did on that last day of November and it's true, my heart is still brim full of you, my love and that will live past eternity.
I don't know why people love. I think it's best we don't. Eyes remind me of your eyes and smiles when there are any remind me of yours, I feel like Pip, a little lost child, in Miss Haversham's house, where all is moldy and dead and gone away to cobwebs, for without you I had to live for you. Without you I had to live your life and mine. I still have the letter from Alonzo, sweet man, and gentle dreamer even if he had a bizarre taste in food; ah remember the special turkey dinner you made him for Thanksgiving out of Jell-O? Only you Sara, only you in a million facets as the snow falls. And as lovely as Manhattan in Autumn, it is lovelier here. I see you in the dark and in the light.
I pretend it snows because you make it so. Because you say, here, Charlie, here's my yearly gift to you. I sing the body Sara, I drift into your world and it's wacky and bizarre and giddy and a constant amazement that one man could find one woman he loves so much, when he didn't think he could love at all. All our adventures to relive. And I do. And I do.
To hold your quivering hand again, to bring my lips to yours again. To dream your eyes while looking at them. To write poetry for you and to read it to you—iambic pentameter no less—and I live in November, my darling. I live in November because there is no other month. I rush through the calendar of the year to here and count the months and weeks and days and minutes, and on this day like all the firsts of November, I expect you to come through my door and say with head slightly bowed, with eyes that have trouble looking any one in the eye, you will say Hello Charlie, with your unsure smile, and your voice will quiver and I will run to you and death will not take you from me.
Oh Sara, I put my head on my desk now. My stomach is heavier. My thoughts are too. I never married, never had a date after one or two, for I save myself for a twist of fate, for it was a twist of fate, my meeting you on that cooling Autumn day at the license bureau and the sweet ridiculousness of it, that that was where we were to meet and spend our November together. I wish you had let me stay to take care of you. I wish you had not died with someone else. I am glad Alonzo was there. I am yours Sara; I am yours forever and a day. After I finish writing this, to put in a stack of letters to you, a tumbling tower of them, I shall walk into the woods and I shall see night and the moon and the snow and the trees and shall walk among them. And I shall see you again, and you will stand there shivering, a small flame in winter cold, your hands in your pockets, your chin a tremble.
And the calendar in my house always says November, a world of Novembers that do not end, and I shall walk to you like walking softly to a precious diamond that is so fragile, and so hurt by so much. I shall stand there in my jeans and winter shirt and my work boots, no more three piece suits for me with a handkerchief in my coat pocket, folded so properly, a vest even, back then and a can you believe it?—a pocket watch. I can't imagine that man back there before you or any Novembers before you happened by, and I wanted to be with you because I wanted to hold you and before you closed your eyes that last time, I wanted to say from me to you, I love you Sara. And where you go I will follow.
I write poetry now, and all the poems are about you in one way or another. Some are published. I make do. Once I got a note from someone asking me why I was so sad and how they wished they could help me in some way. It was kind of them, and I wrote back the nicest letter I could. But I didn't tell them about you Sara, you knit me up and tear me apart, you subsume me and hold me together and tonight, (I held onto the day as hard as I could, but it slipped away from me) for its night now, is like the first night in your flat, sorry, apartment, with the snow falling onto the glass and us underneath it, making love and me reveling in the pure perfection of you.
We were children once, you and I, and we rode on ferries and you knitted me that wonderful sweater I named Rex, and which I still have and keep safe and protected from the years. You taught me how to unstop sinks and you taught me how to fall in love with a voice and how it echoes in my mind all the time and makes my heart so glad I got to spend sweet November with you. I'll put on my coat now, not a Burberry, I've done away with all that finery, also because the money doesn't come easily now—I pour out my heart in poems, but I made much more money with my box company—go figure. I will count the minutes of November. I will have my calendar with me above my computer, on the wall and I will luxuriate in all my memories, for you my Sara are November, its colors, its bracing cold, its brown and red crisp leaves. I've discovered November has a voice and its voice says many words but the sweetest of them is "Home."
I close now, Sara. I love you. And bless you, my Sara November Hourglass. You made me live and made time and distance give up the ghost as I remember us running down the streets of Manhattan, just a minute ago, as you stole my heart and keep it in trust and gave yours in return, to hold it in its sacredness.
I'll write again next week. And keep on writing you till I don't have to anymore. And we will be together forever, you and me and November for November is indeed the sweetest month.