Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Letter to Bob, August 1943

Dearest Bob.

The letter-writing guides they give us are full of helpful hints: Keep it light!" "Talk about family!" "Tell them about doings around town."

But I'm sure none of these things are what you really want to hear, and if I wrote them you'd be reading the pamphlet, not a real letter from me.

I thought and thought about what to write. Finally, I decided to imagine it's a usual Sunday, since that's my day off from the factory and the only one to which a few tattered shreds of life before the war still cling. I'm sure that if you could be magically plucked away from New Guinea and parachuted back to Tillicum Drive for 24 hours, it would be on that day.

I picture us having coffee together, snitching sections of the newspaper from each other as we always do. In my dream there's no war, no "communiques" or dispatches." No maps with snarled arrows circling each other around unpronounceable place names. No black wreaths enfolding lists of dead Seattle boys.

Since it's a warm August day, we'd walk to the beach to watch the white sails blossom on the sea. The destroyers belching black oily smoke have vanished, and the ferries hurrying across the water are filled with picnickers instead of tired, grubby factory girls.

We'd walk along the waterfront and stop at the soda fountain. You'd point out how the shadows are stretching further across the streets now that summer's ending, then laugh and tell me I had a spot of ice cream on my nose.

We'd stroll back to the house. Instead of cartoon Japs on every telephone pole reminding us to buy war bonds and save scrap and not talk, there'd be announcements for garage sales and babysitters.

I'd fix you dinner. A big juicy steak, with buttered potatoes. Stormy would meow and wind her way around the table legs. You'd feed her bits when you thought I wasn't looking.

Then night would come and there'd be no more talk.

It doesn't take much to shatter this reverie: A glance at the paper, a turn of the radio dial, a walk down the street past all the bungalows with star flags in their windows. But my heart is strong, and the dreams are safe inside it until you come home and make them real again.

All my love,


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