Friday, October 27, 2006

letters home

the format is all mucked up & i may go back to fix it later. this is my 2nd assignment for my writing course & i wrote it about a year ago. it reads at a 5.5 grade level.

The letter waited for her when she got home from school. She couldn’t miss it, sitting there on the yellow Formica countertop. The edges of the envelope bore the marks of a long voyage, slightly wrinkled and a little smudged. Meredith knew she would find her name printed in his familiar cramped handwriting, but she was wary of opening the contents. A thousand emotions flooded her mind as she stood motionless in the doorway, still holding her book bag by the strap. Anger that it had taken him so long to reply. Sorrow at the memory of the last time they had seen each other before he left. Joy to know that maybe he had received and read all of her letters. Then there was a tiny niggling of fear at the thought that he might have just sent back the letters unread.
It was a thick packet. No one else was home. It was too early for her parents to be done with work. She grabbed the envelope and continued down the hall to her bedroom at the back of the house. Light streamed in through the big bay window. Throwing her bag on the immaculate bedspread, Meredith settled on the cushioned seat where she always meditated over life. Her fingers trembled as she slid her house key under the flap and ripped it open slowly. While removing the contents with one hand, she turned the envelope over to the front with the other and looked at her name printed so tidily in black ballpoint ink. He probably used a ruler, she thought.
Sheets of paper spilled out, all with the same tight script. Tears filled her eyes as she began to read.

Dear Merry, This isn’t the first time I wrote you, but you should read this one before the others so you’ll understand. I know that you saw the letters I sent to Dad and Mom. I was being spiteful and petty in not mentioning you. I still wrote to you every day; even though I was angry with the way we left things. I can’t stand not having you in my life, as my sister, as my friend. Nothing has ever come between us before and neither of us will let this be the end. It took me quite a while to read your letters without wanting to crumple them up and let the wind carry them away over the desert sand like miniature tumbleweeds. I couldn’t do that and I forgive you for the way we left things. You’ll know what I mean when you read the rest. I miss you and I’ll be home soon.
Love, Doug

More letters addressed to her fell silently to the floor. Meredith could still remember the argument on the day he left. He had been wearing his dress uniform and they were about to leave for the base where he would finish specialized training and then ship out. Doug had looked so mature and handsome, her big brother, off to save the world. The flag sown onto his duffel bag sparkled brilliantly, the colors so bright in the July sun. But she couldn’t look him in the eye. Contrary sentiment filled her heart, playing tug-of-war with her soul. Meredith loved her brother and wanted him to succeed in his every endeavor. Then there was the part of her that could not condone the policy and opinion that sent him to war.
They had walked to the back of the house to say their goodbyes. The tree house where they played as young children still stood, weathered over the years but still sturdy, and they climbed to the main platform. Doug sat cross-legged, trying not to wrinkle his dress slacks and asked Meredith, “What’s wrong, little sis? Aren’t you happy to see me go, so the folks’ll spoil you rotten?”
All the animosity she felt over his leaving, her fear at the danger he’d face, came bursting out like a sudden thunderstorm. “You think you’re so funny, Doug! It’s not and I don’t believe in this war. I can’t believe you’re going! What do you think you can do?”
His expression couldn’t have been any more hurt than if she’d struck him in the face. It soon changed to anger and he stood up abruptly and descended the rungs of the ladder before she could take back the awful thing she had said. Meredith heard a car door slam and the engine started. They had left without her and he was gone. She didn’t know if she’d ever see him again.
She had written to Doug every day and sent him neatly wrapped packets of letters weekly. In the first letter, she apologized for the bitterness that had inspired her words and she slowly eased back into the role of little sister and friend. Weeks had passed without a response, except the letters he wrote to their parents. Until today she hadn’t heard from him. Reading through the rest of the letters, she saw that he had written to her with equal frequency, explaining what he was doing and how he was making a difference in a country that was so foreign to them both. When she got to the last letter, the one with the most recent date, she opened up a blank sheet of paper. Meredith flipped it over again and again searching for some indication of why her brother would send a blank page. Realization hit her suddenly and she ran to her desk. Holding the page up to the lamp, she could read a number, nearly indecipherable because it had been written in lemon juice. They had used invisible ink as a secret code to write messages when they were younger.
It made her smile as she counted down the days until her big brother would return home.


At 3/30/07, 1:17 PM, Blogger jacks said...

I think we need an update on this page! :)


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