Life Among Old Paper

The letter was marked number 66/41/C/8504 and mixed in with the correspondence of someone else. This was the only reason her name had survived the purging of her family when they sought to scour all trace of her from their history.

Wincing at the creak of old paper straining beneath the pull of modern fingers, Anna unfolded the letter.

“To my dearest Father, I am sorry…”

The rest is faint, the ink is much older than Anna and almost lost to time’s fading. She wonders if whoever wrote it can see someone has found her words and is finally listening.


Back in Shrewsbury our archives are right next to the library and for me the two sites share so many similarities that one always makes me think of the other.


  1. Carol, Your description is so good I can see it happening. Much writing and many books have been destroyed but the love of reading continues and books and letters survive. Well written. — Susan


    1. Indeed. I’m currently going through a collection of letters my Thomas Hill for my history dissertation and hoping they will shed some light on the mystery that is his sister. Old letters are fantastic portals into the past.


    1. I’m glad you think so. Going through old letters at the archives for my dissertation has given me a lot of experience with terrifying moments when you think the page may not stand any more unfolding.


  2. I wonder what she was sorry for and it’s a shame her father never got her apology. Well written. This could the the seed for a bigger story.


    1. I’m not sure, they will certainly be differences but some people still keep journals and write letters. More may survive longer even with digital copies often facing the wear of time better than pieces of paper in someone’s garage or attic.


    1. It is! I love reading old letters, though you find ‘the’ is replace with ye a lot which can be confusing and some short hands leave a lot of head scratching to cope with.


  3. That connection we feel with people long gone when we hold a piece of the past in our hands is beautifully captured in your story.

    Good luck with your dissertation – it sounds very interesting


    1. Thank you, I’ve been debating doing a series of posts about it but I’m still on the fence somewhat. It’s been lovely to hear that so many people feel the same way when presented with the chance to read someone else’s words from a hundred or so years ago.


  4. I connected so strongly with your character here. Whenever I’m in museums, or looking at old photos or artefacts, I’m thinking exactly that – I wish this person could know that here I am, noticing them, and appreciating that they were once alive. I get overwhelmed with the sadness that lives once lived so richly are now gone, and the only evidence left is this or that little snippet of history. Sorry for gushing – your story got to me.


    1. It’s sort of nice to hear that my writing can evoke such emotions or memories of those emotions. It’s also lovely to hear about someone taking such an intrest in history and those who lived it.


  5. Loved the entire concept. The fragile old papers, creaking, to be handled with care, and then the last sentence. Superb! Love for books, reading continues to live on, always ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. I love the thought of creaking old paper. I fear this pleasure will be a thing of the past soon – few are taught cursive writing so in a few years, no one will be able to read it! So sad. Well done.


  7. I love reading old letters. They give us a snapshot of the times. A cousin gave me a stack that my grandfather had written and mailed home from California around 1912. Nothing earth-shattering in the text, but a glimpse into what life was like for an 18 yr. old a thousand miles from home.


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