Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Love (04/27/06)
TITLE: The Love Letter
By Michael Aubrecht
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Quinnell was also a loving husband, but duty often called him away from home for months at a time. He missed his wife terribly and sometimes pictured her sitting alone by the fire wondering if he would ever return. More than others, this deployment to the Colonies tested his pride, as throughout the conflict, he had been both shocked and amazed by the tenacity of the enemy. At the onset, most in the British ranks had believed that the rebellion would be crushed within a matter of weeks. After all, who could possibly topple the most magnificent army in the world? However, as the war began to favor the Continentals, Quinnell’s love for his king and country began to sway in favor of the love for his wife. On this particular evening, he decided to write her a letter, hoping that it would ease his aching heart. Dipping his quill in the inkwell, he wrote:
“My dearest wife, I write to you this evening from our camp in the valley. The view that surrounds us is breathtaking and I desperately wish that you were here to share in it with me. The struggle with the Continentals continues to go against us and the arrogance of my superiors has cost the lives of so many men. It is only through my thoughts of you that I have been able to keep my sanity. I miss you terribly and long for the day when I will return. Tomorrow we may be engaging the enemy who are said by our scouts to be camped nearby. Please send my best to mother and father and I will write again when time permits. May the Lord watch over us all. Your loving husband”
Signing his name with a sense of relief, Quinnell carefully folded the parchment and sealed it with a wax stamp. Tomorrow he would send it out with a dispatch rider. Stretching, he yawned and retreated into his tent for some much needed rest.
The following morning, the captain moved his troops onto a vast open field in preparation for the day’s engagement. After supervising the forming of ranks, Quinnell trotted up and down the lines, addressing his troops and reassuring them that victory would be theirs. As the order to advance came down, the captain signaled his company forward. Lowering their bayonets, the infantry began to march with simultaneous precision. For a brief moment, he allowed his mind to drift and imagined their ranks were safely in parade formation miles away from the battlefield. It was as if the war had disappeared, if only for a second… Before he could collect his thoughts, a single gunshot echoed though the valley. BANG!
Struggling to regain control of his horse, Quinnell instinctively turned towards his men believing that they had prematurely fired. Raising his sword, he tried to shout out, but was unable to speak. Instantly, a sharp pain overcame his senses and he clutched his hand to his chest. Reaching inside the blood soaked frock, the captain managed to retrieve a tattered parchment, which he clenched in his fist as he bared down on the pain.
Realizing that it was ruined, Quinnell resolved himself to the fact that he would never see his bride again, nor she his letter. Determined to use his final moments to declare his eternal love for her, he motioned to the men attending to him.
Taking a small lead stick from a flag bearer in his company and a scrap of paper from one of the drummers, the captain summoned his last remaining strength to scribble his last and yet, most memorable words… “l-o-v-e… y…”
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