This is my first attempt at creative writing, and it isn’t yet edited to perfection, so please, be kind.
One Lost Letter
She just couldn’t wait. Though she knew it would get to him only days before he would be on the flight back to the States, she needed to talk to him, and this was the only way. She put on his favorite T-shirt, snuggled up with a cup of tea and a box of tissues, collected her strength using the magical power of a few deep breaths, and resolved to appear strong through her writing:
August 17th, 2008
I can’t put into words how deeply you’re missed here. I’ve been keeping busy, just as I said I would, but the time is dragging. Days go quickly, but the nights just go on and on… From the moment I return home, until I’m finally able to close my eyes and find some rest, I swear a lifetime passes right beneath my nose. The days don’t get crossed off my calendar nearly as quickly as I pray they would. (Yes, if you can believe it, I’ve begun praying since you’ve been gone…many times…daily…) Everyone told me it’d go by quick; I told myself it’d go by quick, but it sure does seem to be taking forever for me to find myself in your embrace again.
Remember when you left for training, for just those two weeks, and our puppy grew up so much? You should see the little mutt now, John! She still doesn’t listen to me as enthusiastically as she listens to you, and she waits at the garage door for you to come home every single night. But she adores her training class, and she’s one of the smartest there; you would be proud to see her.
Everything seems so slow to me most days. I know that’s pathetic, but all I can think about is your safe return. My entire future is planned around you, my sweet John, and everything seems to be put on hold. It’s not just me waiting for your return, it’s my entire world. Everything I do, I do for you, for us. Our life together will blossom; it will burst into a glorious garden, as soon as you arrive home to me, my John.
John, when we started out, so young, so blissful, I never thought I could handle being away from you. It just wasn’t supposed to happen. But, John, my heart is full of faith. I am filled with joy to be your girl, though it requires this strain, this absence. I am here, John, with smiles on my face and a heart overflowing with love. I am nothing if not dedicated to you, I’ve committed myself to you, and nothing makes me happier than dreaming of our future, the life we will finally create together upon your return.
I can’t wait to hear your stories. You are gaining a wealth of experience and knowledge while you are away that could never have been learned here. I know this will change you, but I have faith that you will remain you, my John, whom I know and love so well. I’m changing too, but don’t fret, it’s not bad change; I’ve merely grown up, gained insight, compassion, and independence. I too have learned so much, and I know you’ll love me just the same once your back. The changes we’ll endure during this absence from each other will only strengthen our love. Pressure makes diamonds, my sweet. Remember this.
(And though I tease, I won’t cut my long hair… I know you love running your fingers through it at night, probably just as much as I do…)
Remember when we got the news, John? We almost gave up. We were both so scared… We hardly knew how to handle ourselves. You’ve been let down by the great loves of your past, just as I have, my sweet John. Stay faithful. I am more committed to you than I know how to express in words. My heart and soul are filled with faith; share these feelings with me, my sweet John, and we will flourish! A love like ours can’t be broken by one year; there are too many years we’ve yet to experience that will make up for this one! We’ll graduate, buy our house, and really get our lives started. Finally, finally.
Here’s a surprise my sweet John! I’ve enrolled in an evening cooking class. I know, I know, you can’t believe it. Well, it’s true. You’ve cooked far too many fantastic meals for me my talented, sweet John! It’ll finally be your turn to do the dishes! Ha!
I wish I could share every single moment with you my sweet, but it’s time to call it a night… I pray you’re doing well and laughing often. The countdown continues. Five weeks and three days until I’m finally driving to the airport. Oh, my heart explodes just thinking about it!
I love you to the end of the Earth, my John.
She reread her letter at least five times before slipping it into an envelope and sealing it for good. Though it comforted her to write to him, she could never make it through without crying; she had learned, after many smudged adorations past, to take special care not to let her tears ruin the thick black ink. She didn’t want him to think this time away was too much for her to bear. She faked her strength, not with any intention of fooling him, but to fool herself.
Her faith carried her through the months, and although she cried at least every evening, she was very pleased with the strength she was able to muster. She never thought she would be capable. But it was completely worth it. She took the deployment as an opportunity to grow into the perfect woman for him; he deserved nothing less. She cooked, she cleaned, and she organized. She obsessed over keeping her hair just the way he liked it, and she worked out regularly for the first time in her life. She was his girl. He defined her.
His whole world crashed around him once he learned he had to fight for his country. Everything he knew of his future was no longer. His priorities shifted immediately. Everything he thought he knew changed so suddenly; no one could possibly understand the utter shock he lived with. He knew she would be here, but he didn’t understand why on earth any woman would put herself through that. Really, he was nothing special. Nothing worth waiting for.
He received her letter thirteen days after its post date. Though it was heart wrenching, he read it the whole way through. Twice. Then a third time. He had a moment of regret for what he had done, but it didn’t last long. He’d done what he had to do. He wondered when his letter would reach her.
August 15th, 2008
There isn’t much longer until I’m home… I don’t think this is a good way to go about this, but there’s no good way to do this…
We’re not going to work, Courtney, and I know you’ve been waiting for me, but free yourself. I know I’m hurting you by doing this, but both of our lives will be better this way. Maybe we can see what will happen later on, after some time passes… But I’m moving out once I’m back…
Don’t come to the airport. My mom will pick me up after my flight, and soon after we’ll arrange a time to move my things from your house. Like I said, we can see what happens in the future…
I’m sorry to let you down after you’ve been waiting so long. I loved you, I really did. I know you’ll forgive me someday, though…
He didn’t want it to be this way, but he didn’t want to risk it. He knew she was waiting for him; he never once doubted her loyalty. But he knew everything would be different after this. How could a couple survive a year, together or apart, without anything changing between them? It just wasn’t logical, and he had learned to think with his head as soon as he became a soldier. He had friends who would return to their wives, sure, but this was different. They weren’t married, they were young, and she was naïve to stop her life for him. He assured himself that she’d be alright; in the end, time would heal her.
She was jumping out of her skin on the way to the airport. Finally, finally! A whole year had gone by, the never ending year, the year that lasted a lifetime. She never thought this day would come, and now that it had, her joy overwhelmed her.
Upon seeing her joyful face, he knew something had gone terribly wrong. She hadn’t received the letter. How is that possible? Of all the letters sent throughout this year, the single most fateful one hadn’t made its way to her?
She jumped into his arms and he timidly held her close. Despite everything, all at once, he felt at home for the first time in over a year, and all it took was her sweet embrace. He made a quick decision. The letter would never exist. No one would be the wiser. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
His mother almost gave him away. “What are you doing here, Courtney?”
John gently pushed Courtney away and went to hug his mother. His apprehensive whisper was almost impossible to hear, “I guess she didn’t get the letter, Ma. But I think this is exactly what was meant to happen. Please, Ma, never tell her about it.” He felt her slowly nod. She was just as confused as he was.
On the way to their home, Courtney was a bundle of energy, asking question after question, leaving hardly any time for a response before bursting into expressions of adoration. She was so thrilled to share her life with him again; to have him home each night, right where he belonged.
Exhausted, they crawled into bed and held each other close. Neither was able to sleep; they cherished the simple joy of having their entire world back in the circle of their embrace. He couldn’t believe he had almost thrown this away, yet he wondered if he had made the right decision in the end. Only time could tell.
But for now, he was complete.