Since the release of Post Marked: Piper’s Reach, I’ve been asking the question “Who is Jude Smith?”
On Tuesday, the seventh letter in the series was posted, (open The Shoe Box to read the letters so far) but Jude has only had two. Readers have seen a lot of Ella-Louise and can glimpse into the darkness that is her past. Jude, on the other hand, is a mystery. Ostensibly, he is the character I am writing as he responds to the letters of his best friend of 20 years ago, Ella-Louise Wilson.
The premise of the project is the exploring the relationship between two old friends who shared a very close friendship, reconnecting after 20 years. But what do you say to someone after 20 years of silence once the ennui and minutiae have been covered?
Initially Jude is reluctant to reveal his present situation to Ella-Louise, for fear of offending her. Even as Ella-Louise opens up about what has happened to her, Jude remains closed, reticent to confront the collision of the past and the present.
The intensity of their friendship and its sudden dissolution left many unanswered questions for both of them. In Jude’s mind it is safer to reconnect through shared memories of events that were significant, from Ella-Louise’s arrival in Piper’s Reach to skinny-dipping and sneaking a glance, to the Year 12 Formal and after party.
Jude is an “everyman,” yet more than that. In the initial exchange of letters, I feared Jude had nothing to say in comparison to Ella-Louise’s revelations of the darkness of her life. It felt too light (emotionally, spiritually, relationally) but he could not see the balance he was to Ella-Louise.
In the present Jude remembers Ella-Louise as she was in the past and the relationship they shared. He loved Ella-Louise but something held him back. The strong nostalgic sentimentality prevents him from fully understanding of how Ella-Louise has changed, and from understanding her intentions (which may or may not be clear).
But I am writing his letters some months later and a lot has changed. What I am looking at now is Jude’s emotional capacity. Was he emotionally naive in high school to be able to cope with what Ella-Louise was going through? Is he emotionally unready to deal with it now? Is it the cause of his inability to share?
The reader is about to embark on a very intense emotional journey with both characters in the coming weeks, almost voyeuristic in the intimate details shared, in particular by Jude. He is enamoured by nostalgia and in his letters recounts in vivid detail the moments he remembers sharing with Ella-Louise; what he did do, what he didn’t do and what he wished he did.
There are lots of questions, as there are revelations.