Writing 101: Be Brief

Writing 101: Be Brief

You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Today, write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.


Quickly, I snuck up the attic stairs while my grandparents were sleeping. The two-family with a dutch flat that my grandparents never finished was eerily quiet in the early morning.  As I reached the top step, the cigar box that contained what remained of my Uncle Romeo’s life came into view.  It is what had me out of my bed so early on a Saturday morning skulking around the attic.

For all my 13 years, Uncle Romeo, my grandmother’s brother, had lived with my great grandparents. First, he was a sad broken figure of a man sitting in a wooden chair peering out a single kitchen window in the kitchen of my great grandmother’s home in a third floor walk up. Day after day he sat and surveyed the people on the busy street below.  He rarely spoke; uttering a soft-spoken word or two here and there and then mostly in Italian while all around him the hustle and bustle of our large and boisterous Italian extended family took place.

Why Uncle Romeo sat in silence was always shrouded in mystery and secrecy. Cloaked in sadness, he appeared to be searching for something through his window.  I asked my mother once why he just sat there.  She said something about the war and being shell shocked and a woman named Graziella but I should never speak of either.

When my great grandparents began to get feeble the three of them moved away from Uncle Romeo’s window to a nursing home. Suddenly the chair by the kitchen window he had silently occupied for several decades was replaced by a blue cushioned chair in a room in a nursing home without a window.

I opened the cigar box and a piece of worn stationery peeked out from underneath Uncle Romeo’s scant belongings; a pocket comb, a worn photograph, a ball of string, a Swiss army knife and an old savings account passbook.

I turned my flashlight toward the paper so I could read the words:

Dear Romeo,

Words escape me. But, I must tell you.

I enjoyed our time together and care about you deeply. But, I am no longer in love with you.

When you left to fight on the European Front your absence was too difficult for me. I felt so alone and miserable.  Pasquale was there to help me.  I am sorry, neither of us meant for this to happen.  As we spent more time together, Pasquale and I fell in love.   We are getting married on the second Sunday in May.

I hope, we both hope you can forgive us,

Graziella

In 100 words she shattered Uncle Romeo’s heart. Convinced Graziella would return to him, he spent a lifetime looking for her to walk up the busy sidewalk outside my great grandmother’s kitchen and return to him.  Until, he moved to a chair without a view.

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