Nest: Letter Three

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Mrs Olya Ryder,

I am writing to inform you that the blood work we ran for you husband has come back inconclusive. We are growing increasingly concerned about Mr Ryder’s well-being. All we know so far is that the mutation in his nose is extremely abnormal. Forgive me for sounding improper but, his nose seems to be turning to stone. This condition appears to be spreading and we do not know what the consequences of this will be.

You said during our last meeting that his behaviour had changed. Do you find that he has become more secretive lately? He has been rather adamant that he doesn’t know what has caused this. When I spoke to him with a psychologist he became increasingly agitated and aggressive. We are most concerned about his mental state. The psychologist has reason to believe that he is on the verge of a breakdown. We have no reason to admit him into hospital but I do ask that you keep me informed of his changes. This case is rather unusual. Although I won’t be able to help during my working hours, I do hope that I can help you get to the bottom of this on a more personal level.

To be frank with you, I am frightened by your husband’s condition. I have never seen anything like this in my thirty years at Edward Hain Memorial Hospital. It’s all very unusual. I don’t mean to come across as unprofessional in such a trying time but I have heard stories about a child turning to stone here in St Ives. When I was studying for my medical degree there was a rumour that Dr. Hayworth’s daughter had contracted a disease from a creature which was slowly turning her into stone. At first, I thought that the rumour was nonsense. My education taught me to think skeptically and there is simply no explanation for a human being turning into stone. However, Dr Hayworth’s mental state began to deteriorate. Once, when I was working late, I found my professor crying in his office. He was inconsolable, and I could only understand threads of what he was saying. In his hand there was a tiny little stone; he held on so tightly as if it was his last hope, his last tether to reality.

After this it seemed as though Dr Hayworth was losing his grip. I would check on him. He told me stories about ancient creatures that once inhabited Cornwall’s coastline. His office was littered with drawings, letters, notes, and pages torn from old encyclopaedias. He would ramble about this creature, his daughter and her condition. One evening I heard him shouting in his office. When I approached him he shouted at me to stay back. It was still Dr Hayworth...sort of. He kept on repeating the same words:

‘Stone, stone, my little stone.’

His eyes were wild and angry, his whole body shook with a rage I had never seen a human exhibit before. It wasn’t until you approached me with your husband’s condition that I believed what I saw that night. I swear that I could see his skin…changing. Just under the collar of his shirt his skin seemed to be hardening and darkening, until it settled and I was no longer looking at a man, but a figure more befitting the gutter of a church. I fled.

I never saw Dr Hayworth after that night. I was told that the death of his daughter had caused him to have a mental breakdown. My scepticism told me that I must have been seeing things, people don’t turn to stone! But your husband... he had the same fury boiling up inside him when we examined him.

I must warn you, please be careful around your husband. His behaviour may change and become increasingly erratic. I hope that you will keep me updated on his condition; I will be working tirelessly to research this phenomenon.

Kind regards,

Dr. Elizabeth Pennlan


by Honeysuckle Troubridge


About Nest

Nest is our epistolary project, written collaboratively by students and staff and published every fortnight right here on Falwriting. You can find out more about Nest here, and read Letter Two here.

Nest Podcast

We have just released the second episode of our Nest podcast, where each writer will read the newest letter and talk about their writing process and influences. You can listen to Nest: Episode 2 with Amy Hardman here.


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