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See You Soon
It was a cool day outside. A light breeze gently blew the colourful leaves on
the maple trees lining the property. The smell of fresh grass clippings filled
the air, and a light dew made the ground sparkle in the early morning light. An
old barn could be seen off in the distance, the weathervane pointed towards the
north. Inside the old brick house a woman yawned quietly as her young daughter
slept in her arms. The white silk canopy covering the bed fell softly on the
hardwood floor, as the red coals in the fireplace on the far wall shimmered from
the previous night's fire.
John had been drafted when Mary was just seven months pregnant. It came as a
surprise to them since John was a doctor. Usually doctors didn't get assigned to
battle; they were in the M.A.S.H. units stitching up the wounded. John wasn't
that fortunate, though. He was one of the unlucky thousands selected to put
their own bodies directly in front of the enemy.
Three weeks to the day after John was drafted, he left. He was shipped over to
England where he would undergo three months of training before being thrown out
onto the battlefield like a piece of bloody meat would be thrown to a hungry
shark. The hardest thing to do was say goodbye. They both knew that day was
approaching, but they couldn't bare to think about it. They both knew the
dangers of going to war, yet they were unable to talk about the possible
outcome. When the day finally came, the young couple went out for an extravagant
breakfast at the fanciest restaurant in town. They hugged and cried all
afternoon, sitting outside, listening to the birds, and talking quietly about
all the things they were going to do when John got back. And then he left. That
was the last time they had seen each other - outside under the sun at the end of
the driveway as John got into the truck. He had gone to do battle and fight for
the freedom of his nation, and his people.
At first, the letters were very frequent. While he was training, John even had
the chance to phone home a couple of times. He only knew his newborn daughter
through the pictures Mary sent him, and the faint sound of her crying in the
background when he called. When he was sent to the trenches he was no longer
able to call, but he did manage to write about once a week. His letters were
long, heart-filled, and an absolute joy for Mary to read. She knew that as long
as she was getting letters from her husband, everything would be okay. He was
alive and safe if he was able to write. The weeks would go by so slow as she
waited at home for the letters. She would sit on the edge of her bed, looking
outside and waiting in anticipation for the postman to arrive. Every day, Mary
would run out to greet him, knowing most of the time she would be disappointed
and have to wait another day. Lately, she was waiting longer and longer though.
John's letters slowly decreased from arriving every week, to biweekly, to monthly. Now, she had not received a letter in over two
John had missed so much while he was gone. How was Mary ever supposed to explain
to him the wonderful sights he had been so far away for? The birth of his
daughter, her first word (which was, ironically, "Daddy"), and even her first
steps. If he did not come home soon he would even miss her first day of school!
But Mary realized that these were all very small things. All she really cared
about was seeing her husband again. It had been so long, so hard. Nothing could
ever make up for the amount of time that they had lost together. No amount of
money the Army sent her every two weeks. No medals that John had been awarded
for bravery. No personal letters from lieutenants or colonels. Nothing could
make up for the lost time, and Mary knew that.
Then one day it happened. The moment she had been anxiously awaiting for so many
years. She was ecstatic on that cool October day. Mary heard the postman's
footsteps as he made his way up the gravel path towards the house. She leapt out
of bed, pushed away the canopy, and darted down the stairs in nothing but her
pajamas. She made it to the door just as the postman was about to knock, and
snatched the mail out of his hands, slamming the door quickly behind her. She
threw the envelopes down on the ground one by one until she finally reached the
one that had that all too familiar type face. She tore it open and read it
October 10, 1944
I'm so sorry I haven't had the opportunity to write for so long. I was moved
onto the front lines over two months ago and we were not permitted to write
because we always had to be ready for the enemy's attacks. It was the most
frightening time of my life. At times we were so close to the enemy that I could
see the whites of their eyes. I really wish I didn't have to kill them. It's so
hard when you are that close to them. At least when you are farther back on the
lines you can't see what they look like, you can only see their uniforms. But
when you are at the front, you can see what they look like; you can hear them
pleading with you for help. But you can't do anything about it. It was the worst
experience of my life.
But I was okay. I was never harmed once. I know you must have been terribly
worried, but I assure you everything was fine. I also have some incredibly good
news. I couldn't wait to find a pen and some paper so I could send this to you.
I was told by my commanding officer that I am receiving my discharge from the
army! He told me that in two weeks (probably just a few days after you receive
this) I will be on my way home! I can't wait to get home so I can see you, and
finally see our beautiful daughter. But now I must say goodbye … temporarily. I
did not have a lot of time to write this, but I couldn't wait any longer! I have
to meet with the colonel now to discuss what I will do for the last dew days I
have here. Don't worry - it will just be general duties around the camp. Finally
I can say this - I will see you soon!
A tear softly rolled down Mary's cheek as she finished reading the letter. This
was the day she had been awaiting for so long. She quickly ran up the stairs
three at a time, and rushed into her room taking her sleeping daughter in her
arms, and hugging her with all she had.
"He's coming home!" Mary yelled, a smile taking up her entire face. "He's coming
home! Daddy's coming home!"
The letter was the best news Mary had heard in years. Life could not get much
better than this. She had a beautiful, healthy three-year-old daughter, and now
her husband was finally coming home, after over three years of putting his very
own body on the line for his country. Within a matter of hours Mary had called
all of her friends and family to tell them the good news, and had invited them
all to a "Welcome Home" party for John a few weeks later.
It had been two weeks since Mary had received the letter from John saying that
he was coming home. She knew that any day now he would walk through the door.
Just as she had waited for his letters, she would now sit in her room looking
out the window, waiting for him to pull up to the house. Every time she saw a
car pull into the driveway from the street about half a mile away, she would run
outside, only to be disappointed when John did not emerge. She could hardly
sleep at night, imagining what he would look like now and the smell of his
cologne when he got back. Day after day passed, and yet he still did not come
On the Wednesday before the party, Mary was once again sitting in her room,
looking out her window, when she saw a truck once again pull up the driveway.
Once again she felt the rush of joy and hope coming over her body. She knew she
had been disappointed so many times in the past, but this time, for some reason,
everything felt different. She had a certain feeling in her heart that she had
not had before. This time, Mary was sure John was home. She did not race down
the stairs like she usually did. This time, she prepared herself for the moment.
She checked her hair and makeup in the mirror above the dresser, and then slowly
made her way down the stairs. She pulled the curtain covering the window in the
door aside slightly, and quietly watched the truck approach. As it came closer
she could tell that there were two men in uniforms in the truck. One of them was
the driver and the other must be John! They were still too far away for her to
see their faces, but she was positive it was him. She neatly smoothed out her dress with her hands and stood with
her back to the door, her heart racing.
A few moments later there was a knock at the door. She waited a few seconds,
took a deep breath, and opened it. As she did so, a look of confusion came
across her face as two unfamiliar men stood in front of her.
"Mrs. Smith?" the shorter of the men asked.
"Yes." Mary replied slowly.
"This is Lieutenant Jeffery Robataille and I'm Colonel Robert Austin of the
United States Army. On October 18th of this year, 1944, Major John Smith's camp
was bombed by German attack planes."
A dull and stunned look came over Mary's face. She just stared blankly at the
two men standing in front of her, unable to talk. She was frozen in her doorway
like a statue, completely paralyzed, as the men continued to talk.
"We're sorry to inform you, ma'am," they continued. "There were no survivors."
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