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Promises of One Day (2nd Prize, Category 4)

April, 2014
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The old letters were a blast from the past. She laid them out, in their crinkled glory, before picking up the first one.

Her hands shook.

                                                                          —–                         

Dear Mary,

Well, basic training has just gone on for a few days, and I can tell you that I can feel it in all my muscles. I’m thinking that I might be able to run a marathon when I come back, I feel so fit. It’s doing wonders for my sleeping, I just fall into my bed every single night.

It’s actually quite fun, if you think about it. I get to run around all day, and there’s no one that keeps telling me to sit down and do my paperwork. If it wasn’t so structured, it could almost feel like a long, extended recess. I just wish that you were here with me, but to be honest, it’s not too big of a deal. Just think of it like an extended vacation.

They say that we might be seeing some sort of deployment soon, but it’s not going to be too dangerous. Most of the fighting has already died down anyways. At least that’s what they say. 

When all of this is over, I promise, one day, I’ll come and surprise you with a bouquet of flowers on your doorstep. I might even have badges of honor.

 

Love,

Vincent

 

  —–

  

Dear Mary,

The chocolate you sent me tasted like love. I don’t know if it was the sugar talking, but it was delicious. It just kept reminding me of that pot roast that you made for thanksgiving last year. Every single time that I close my eyes, I can still taste the meat melting into my mouth. I do have to admit that the rations here aren’t very much. I shared some of the chocolate with the other soldiers of my squad, and they were quite grateful. I think that some of them are jealous that I have such an amazing wife.

I know that I’ve been saying this for a long time, but I have to say it again. I miss you so much. To be honest, I feel like a part of me is missing. I don’t know how to put it in other words besides I love you, but even that seems to pale in comparison with what I really feel. The days drag on for eternity without you by my side. What I wouldn’t give for the chance to call you once or twice. Every night, I take out the picture of you (you know the one with you smiling so brightly in your sundress and hat) and place it under my head when I sleep. 

We haven’t actually had much contact with the enemy yet. It is becoming kind of monotonous, but don’t worry. I’m in very good hands. Our lieutenant has got to be the smartest man that I know, and he keeps us alert and constantly on our feet. I’m sure that you don’t want to hear much more about what boredom actually exists in war, but I don’t really know what else to talk to you about. War is the only thing I’m supposed to be thinking about these days.

I’m not sure when I’ll finally be able to return back to you, but I have been dreaming about that day. The sooner that day comes, the sooner we will be together again. It will be sooner than you think, my dear. One day, you will open your door, and you will see my smiling face looking back at you. And then, we will go out to dinner, just the two of us. Me in my spiffy new uniform, all decorated with numerous badges, and you’ll be in that white dress that you look like a goddess in.

Now, don’t miss me too much. That day is bound to come. I promise.

 

Love,

Vincent

                                                                          —–           

Dear Mary,

Today, it actually felt like war.

The sound.

It wouldn’t stop. It was like the Fourth of July fireworks, but magnified a thousand times. It wouldn’t stop. I can still hear it.

They came upon us in the afternoon, and I don’t know what happened.

My training just took over me, and I just kept going on and on and on. I don’t even remember stopping to think a few seconds throughout the entire ordeal. It was horrible. For the first time, I realized that war wasn’t just an extended camping trip.

We lost a man today. His name was Philip. He had a wife and a kid. His daughter was just two years of age. Philip was even younger than I am. I don’t know what happened to him. He was just there, and then he fell. I was next to him the entire time. I should’ve done something to save him.

I should’ve. 

One day, I just want to come back to you. I won’t ask for anything else. Just the thought of that possibility is the only thing that’s keeping me together.

 

I love you,

Vincent

 

                                                                           —–                         

Dear Mary,

Your response to the previous letter really helped me. I still feel bad for writing to you about all of that. I’m sure that you thought that I sounded more like a kid than I did your husband. Thanks to your love, I’m feeling much better about everything. Please don’t worry about me. That letter was sent in the fever of war, and I knew it had been a mistake the very next day. I must’ve exaggerated all of the stories, and I am so sorry for making you worry like that. 

We’re going to be sent to the frontline any time soon now. It’s not much different from what we’ve been doing lately; so don’t worry any more about me. We just might be a little busier because of all of the things that we have to do, but other than that, expect to hear from me just as much as usual.

I still love you. Here, the stars shine so much brighter than they do at home, and they always remind me of your sparkling eyes. One day, I’ll be back home, and you will hear from me just how beautiful you are. I am looking forward to that day.

 

Love,

Vincent

                                                                           —–                       

 

Dear Mary,

You would’ve heard the news by now. I don’t know what I should write - I just hope that you never get to see this letter. They said they’d send it when I die. I don’t like the feeling of putting that thought into words. It feels like bad luck. I’ll be back in a few weeks, and we can laugh all of my fears away then.

But if this really does happen, don’t miss me too much, dearest.

When you first decided to go out with me, I was on top of the world. I remember smiling like a fool for the next week. I practiced all of my horrible jokes in front of a mirror, and I was so happy when you actually laughed at them. I still remember the movie that we watched together, but I didn’t really see what I was going on. I was too busy looking at the beautiful woman sitting next to me and wondering how I got so lucky.

During my proposal, my knees were shaking like leaves. I’m surprised you didn’t call me out on how much my voice was trembling the entire time. I felt as though the world let out its breath when you finally said yes. I know that I could hardly hold back my whoop of joy. 

That day when you walked down the aisle in a white dress was the best day of my life. I can still remember your smile and the feel of your hand in mine. When they called us husband and wife, I could’ve walked into the sky, I was so alive. We made a home together, you and I.

I had so many dreams. Of future children, but mostly, just of life together. I dreamt of waking up every morning to be with you and to be able to share a house and all of our dreams. I dreamt to be able to love you as much as I could.

But all of that is gone now.

Don’t let this keep you down for too long, Mary. The world is just that much darker without your smile. Laugh, live, be happy. Just remember, that no matter what happens, you’ll always be my one and only love.

I’m sorry for breaking my promise. That one day that I’ve been writing about for so long will never come. Make yourself a new life without me. Please.

 

Love,

Vincent

                                                                           —–                       

 

Words were all she had left of him, and now, she would never get any more. She caressed his letters, and the tears finally came.



By Grace Lu,

17 years, Shanghai American School - Pudong

 

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