The Stories Hadley Hemingway Lost

valiseby Robyn Ryle

In the end, he was glad they were gone. No one wants to be confronted with the stories written in his youth. “Juvenalia,” he called them before they disappeared.

The stories boarded the train to Switzerland in a valise. They sat impatient under the seat in the Gare de Lyon station. They were waiting for the whistle and the great bellowing of the train in motion. They were waiting for their chance.

They were long-winded and self-indulgent. They were the best work he ever produced. They were doubled, each a twin competing with his carbon copy duplicate. They were his life’s work and then they were gone.

They whispered to each other in the darkness. They remembered great stretches of country between Michigan and Illinois. Travel was nothing new to them. They grew prophetic and sad as they crossed the border. In the steady rhythm of the train, they could hear the mumbled words of the new stories he would write. Through the window, they watched their replacements rising meteoric as they slid through the Alps. They were small and forgotten.

They wished for nothing more than escape from their confinement. The inside of the valise would never be enough. They longed to drift across the countryside on winds that no words would ever contain. They dreamt of settling down onto fertile soil to rest and decay. They craved the soft touch of rain and snow. Bird nests would be built from their shredded fragments. They would drift down the course of gentle creeks and join with rivers. They would transcend the base physicality of paper and ink.

They would haunt Hemingway’s dreams, whole sentences and paragraphs waking him in the tropical heat of Key West and Cuba. In Idaho, their precise phrases rustled around the floorboards of his room in the dark of night. They called to him in familiar voices until the lost stories were all he could hear.


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