Random Letter in 750 Words or Less

Random Letter in 750 Words or Less

Walking in the early morning mist, I pass the houses in my neighborhood.  Their inhabitants, relative strangers to me, are still asleep in their beds.  All is still and quiet on this early, Monday morning.

Usually, I am observing the passing world around me.  The colors of the sky – grey, blue, white; the lilac bushes in full bloom; the bicycles littering the drive way as I turn the corner, abandoned by the McHugh children the prior night when their parents called for them.

But this morning, I am not quite myself as I walk around the neighboring streets.  My gait is slow and I am focusing not on my surroundings but my feet clad in electric green New Balance runners.  I slowly and methodically put one foot in front of another.  The world is a blur of electric green hitting coal black asphalt.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see a pink grosgrain ribbon.  The vibrancy of the pink is in stark contrast to the jet black asphalt.  I stop to take a closer look; any excuse to stop walking.

The pink grosgrain ribbon is tied around a packet of yellowing letters.  Clearly, someone once cared about these letters.  I hesitate.  I can’t leave the letters, sitting discarded on the side of the road.  But, what am I to do?  This is not school – there is no lost and found box.

My curiosity gets the best of me.  I’ll look at just one, I tell myself.  I look at the letter on top.  The envelope is addressed to Mrs. Rose Martineau and postmarked Pearl Harbor, HI, December 5, 1941.  I immediately notice it is dated two days before the day that will live in infamy.

My walk, which I’ve barely begun, comes to an abrupt halt.  I turn towards home with the packet of letters.  Sitting in my study, sipping a cup of Harney & Son’s Cinnamon Sunset Tea, I carefully pour over the letters.

The first letter I read is the one dated, December 5, 1941.   “My dearest Rose,” it begins.  “I know my service in the Navy has been difficult and lonely for you.  But soon it will be over and I can return home to you, my love.”

My mind wanders – how do couples who are so far apart maintain their relationships?  I wonder if Rose had been keeping company with a man who stayed behind.  Or had her husband, the author of the letter, strayed from their marriage vows?

“The difficult days have turned into weeks and months,” the letter continues, “and, now nearly three long years have passed.  I look forward to being discharged next month as I count the hours until I hold you in my arms again, my love.  Soon, very soon I will get to meet our precious son and we can celebrate his third birthday together as a family.”

This letter like all of them is signed, “With all my love, eternally yours, Joseph.”

I sit for hours and read each letter, carefully returning them to their corresponding envelopes.  I feel as if I am violating Rose and Joseph’s privacy.  These letters are their love story, not mine … but I can’t stop reading until I finish the letters.

The very first letter I read was actually the last letter from Joseph to Rose, as she had kept them neatly in order most recent on top.  I need to know whether Joseph survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I find myself mourning the possible loss of a man I had never met, anxious for his young wife.

Was it just coincidence that the letters stopped two days before the attack on Pearl Harbor?  Did Joseph come home to Rose?  If not, did Rose ever remarry? The questions flood my thoughts.

I must find out.  I Google Joseph and Rose Martineau. I take to social media – posting some of the details and pictures of the packet of letters.

I am contacted by a granddaughter of Joseph and Rose.  The letters belong to her father; they were lost in his recent move.  They are all he has of his father.  Joseph did come home from the war, but died in a car accident before her father, Joe, Jr. turned four years old.  Rose never remarried, always saying she had married her one true love for eternity.

I meet their granddaughter to return the letters.  The next morning, as I walk I cry for Joseph and Rose.

Random Letter in 500 Words or Less

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a pink grosgrain ribbon.  Its vibrancy is in stark contrast to the jet black asphalt.  I stop to take a closer look; any excuse to stop walking.

The pink grosgrain ribbon is tied around a packet of yellowing letters.  Clearly, someone once cared about these letters.  I hesitate.  I can’t leave the letters, sitting discarded on the side of the road.  But, what am I to do?  This is not school – there is no lost and found box.

My curiosity gets the best of me.  I’ll look at just one, I tell myself.  I look at the letter on top.  The envelope is addressed to Mrs. Rose Martineau and postmarked Pearl Harbor, HI, December 5, 1941.  I immediately notice it is dated two days before the day that will live in infamy.

The first letter I read is the one dated, December 5, 1941.   “My dearest Rose,” it begins.  “I know my service in the Navy has been difficult and lonely for you.  But soon it will be over and I can return home to you, my love.”

My mind wanders – how do couples who are so far apart maintain their relationships?  I wonder if Rose had been keeping company with a man who stayed behind.  Or had her husband, the author of the letter, strayed from their marriage vows?

“The difficult days have turned into weeks and months,” the letter continues, “and, now nearly three long years have passed.  I look forward to being discharged next month as I count the hours until I hold you in my arms again, my love.  Soon, very soon I will get to meet our precious son and we can celebrate his third birthday together as a family.”

This letter like all of them is signed, “With all my love, eternally yours, Joseph.”

I sit for hours and read each letter, carefully returning them to their corresponding envelopes.  I feel as if I am violating Rose and Joseph’s privacy.  These letters are their love story, not mine … but I can’t stop reading.

The very first letter I read was actually the last letter from Joseph to Rose, as she had kept them neatly in order most recent on top.  I need to know whether Joseph survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I find myself mourning the possible loss of a man I had never met, anxious for his young wife.

I must find out what happened.  I take to social media – posting some of the details and pictures of the packet of letters. I am contacted by a granddaughter of Joseph and Rose.  The letters belong to her father; they were lost in his recent move.  They are all he has of his father.  Joseph did come home from the war, but died in a car accident before her father, Joe, Jr. turned four years old.  Rose never remarried, always saying she had married her one true love for eternity.

Random Letter in 150 Words or Less

I find a packet of yellowing letters tied with a pink grosgrain ribbon.

The letter on top is addressed to Mrs. Rose Martineau and postmarked Pearl Harbor, HI, December 5, 1941.

I was only going to read one.

I feel as if I am violating Rose and Joseph’s privacy.  These letters are their love story, not mine … but I can’t stop reading.

The first letter was the last letter written two days before Pearl Harbor.

I mourn the possible loss of a man I had never met.

I find their granddaughter on the internet.

The letters belong to her father.  They are all he has of his father.

Joseph did come home from the war, but died in a car accident the following year.

Rose never remarried

I cry.

 

 

4 thoughts on “Random Letter in 750 Words or Less

  1. Pingback: 2014 in review | from the sticks to the bricks and back again

  2. Pingback: It can wait until tomorrow… | from the sticks to the bricks and back again

  3. This is a moving piece. I love the way you demonstrate how the process of editing/cutting can shape and/or change a piece of writing, often by making it stronger (I think this happens when you cut it down to under 500 – the key elements shine out but it is still the ‘whole’ story that is in the longer version), but sometimes by making it into something different (when you go to under 150 words, it seems to make it into more of a prose poem rather than a story, which has many more interpretations and much more space to reflect the reader’s personal experience and situation). Maybe you could even take it one step further and make a haiku! Anyway, thanks – I enjoyed reading it in all versions.

    Liked by 1 person

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