I was sat on a bench by the bucket water fountain on Cuba Mall, Wellington, sipping a latte in the sunshine, and watching my children play on the little playground.
I had been feeling quite shaky and flat emotionally. My youngest daughter, Alice, is two and her sleep has been somewhat erratic of late. It wasn’t my idea to come into the city. I wasn’t feeling up to it, but my 6 year old daughter had persuaded me.
With the sun warming me up and the coffee working its magic I felt a stirring of calm inside – where before there was a pack of chihuahua dogs yapping in my head and tears pricking my eyes.
Then I saw a lady walk past. I don’t know why she caught my eye, perhaps it was the way she was walking – with a spring in her step and a smile on her face. She reached into her bag and took out a piece of card, which she placed on the children’s playground where Sophie and Alice were playing. I’m sure she saw me and I smiled at her – not sure if she noticed, but she turned and smiled at a young man who seemed to be with her. I knew instantly what that piece of card was. I knew it was one of only five hundred. A love letter by Fleur Wickes. A work of art – her text poetry.
I felt like Charlie in ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’ as I walked over to check that the piece of card was what I imagined. Beautiful. It was.
Sophie ran over to me to ask what it was. When I told her there would be more, hidden around the streets of Wellington, she asked to find some. There they were – on benches, on menu stands outside restaurants, on cash machines and in bushes.
We watched people walk past a cash machine, waiting to see if anyone else noticed. Several passers by stopped to linger, some for a few seconds, others to read in full. One couple approached the machine to use it – but as they did – and saw the letter – they held hands, looked at one another, and smiled. They didn’t take the love letter with them. The girl looked around – as though she suspected it to be some staged set-up and that someone would be watching. They left the love letter where they’d found it – but it had captured a piece of their hearts.
Sophie wished more people would take a love letter home with them and wrote a message on one (I hope Fleur doesn’t mind):
Fleur’s lovely idea of spreading her art with ‘Love Letters’ around Wellington made my day. She also inspired my unschooling 6 year old – as Sophie said, ‘We could do that Mummy!’.
And this morning, the day after I found 196/500, my husband sent me a text to say he’d found 106/500. He said he’d frame it and share it with his colleagues in the office.