Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)
TITLE: Set Free
By Marita Thelander
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“Whoa, Pat. You’re gonna like this stuff,” Ricardo unloaded several boxes. “There’s some old stuff in here.”
I could hardly focus on the piles in front of me. I kept looking at the stack Ricardo mentioned. I knew there’d be treasures in there. I could feel it in my bones.
“Can’t stand it can you, Pat?” Maggie giggled.
“What can I say? Fifteen years on this job and it never gets boring.”
By break time I made it through the first pile and the good stuff would be ready for me when I returned.
The next half hour I pawed through boxes that looked like they’d been stored and never opened again. “There’s a story here. I can feel it.”
I began to notice the items were all women’s things…until I opened what quickly became known as: <i>the box.</i> This is when the story began to unfold.
“Oh, Maggie,” I held up a vintage wedding gown. “Who would get rid of this?”
Maggie gasped and fingered the pearls and lace embedded into the delicate fabric. “It’s beautiful.”
I gently pulled out a perfectly folded WW2 military uniform; everything from hat to shoes. Beneath the uniform I found a small cedar chest and a tin box. I lifted the wooden lid and discovered a set of dog tags, a pocket watch, and his and her wedding bands.
“Look at these,” my eyes were wild with wonder when I fingered the gold rings. “There’s not a scratch on them…like they’ve never been worn.”
“Wow, I wonder about the dress, too,” Maggie held the lacey bodice to her chest.
I reached in for the aqua painted tin. “Oh my goodness,” my hand flew to my mouth. “It’s full of letters.”
“Love letters?” Maggie reached across me and picked one off the top of the pile.
<i>“My dearest Rose,”</i> Maggie read out loud. <i>“I will never forget the forlorn look on your face when we were forced to part. It pulls at my very soul. Sometimes when I lay in my bunk at night I see those doe eyes of yours; big, round, brown eyes, full of fear. I pray every night for you to have peace in your heart concerning my well being.”</i>
“They’re stacked in chronological order,” Ricardo thumbed through the treasured letters. “None of them are written to him, they’re all addressed to Rose.”
“Not quite,” I held up a flowery envelope. “This was in the cedar box.”
Ricardo took it from me for a closer look. “There’s no stamp or address.” He slid the crisp stationary out of the never sealed correspondence.
<i>“My Beloved Henry,”</i> Ricardo smiled. “Why don’t we talk like this anymore? No one writes letters constantly declaring their love these days.”
“Just read it already.” Maggie blushed, unable to hide her anxious nerves.
<i>“Your mother and father were notified today that you were missing somewhere in France. They couldn’t verify if you are dead or alive. I’m stunned with grief, but I want you to know that I will wait for you. My heart belongs only to you. I will dutifully pray for your safe return upon which I will proudly become Mrs. Henry Moore. All my love, Rose.”</i>
“Do you think he made it home?” Maggie’s eyes glistened.
“Hey Pat,” Shelly called from her office. “Did you find a box with a WW2 uniform and some letters in it?”
“We’re looking through them right now,” I hollered back.
“You need to put it all back together. It wasn’t supposed to be donated. The owner is on his way to pick it up.”
“Hey, look at the last letter,” Ricardo handed me a modern envelope.
<i>“My Precious Hank,”</i> I scowled at the change in the name. <i>“Someday I hope you will receive this box. Even if you don’t, I believe the act of recording the truth with pen and paper has helped to set my tormented heart free. Please read these letters in the order they are written and know that you were conceived in deep abiding love.”</i>
A frantic man arrived to claim the box full of love, passion, secrets, and repentance. I went back to sorting.
I love my mundane job.
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