Creative Writing: June 30th, 1944

I’m not sure how many creative pieces I’ll put here, but the Writing 101 prompt moved me in that direction today. Please note that this piece is totally fictional.

Prompt: You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Today, write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.

Mom decided it was time to clean out Grammy’s attic, a daunting task if there ever was one. When I was a kid, I loved going into the attic and exploring. I loved the dusty boxes with their untold treasures, the grainy photos of people I had never met but seemed so familiar, and the cedar chests with the most beautiful clothes I had ever seen. Even now, even at the end, when we visited Grammy, I found myself sneaking up there to have a peek, to see if I would discover something new.

But, today, we had to start clearing it out. We had to start opening those boxes and cedar chests, had to remove the treasures and put them in piles, categorizing a life now faded. Sighing, I opened the door and started up the stairs.

An envelope fell from somewhere and landed on the step just above me. Yellowed with age, I recognized Grammy’s stationary, the kind she used since her coming-out days. It was addressed to my Grandpa Charlie. Smiling to myself, I opened it.

The letter was short, but so full I thought my heart would burst. In her strong, flowing hand, she had written:

June 30th, 1944

My Charlie,

It has been 25 days since your last letter and I cannot breathe. I think I’ve forgotten how. Do you think you can forget how to breathe, Charlie?

The garden has come in well; the roses are especially lovely and the tomato plants are threatening to take over. We will have lots of sauce this winter!

The doorbell rang three times yesterday. Every time, I thought my heart would leap from my chest. It wasn’t someone with news, Charlie, but it could have been. Doorbells have been ringing all over town, men in uniform giving their condolences to so many families.

Mrs. Carson and Betty Townsend both heard those bells. Mother said they had to take Mrs. Carson to the hospital. It’s all three Carson boys, now.

None of them will eat sauce again.

I can’t even imagine.

Oh, god, Charlie, it’s been 25 days since your last letter, 600 hundred hours since I last took a full breath.

Charlie, when you come home, you must help me plant an apple tree or two. I’ve been craving apple pie and Mr. Jenkins has raised his prices again. Promise me you’ll help?

Tomorrow, I’m going to make a new dress. It’s been so long since I’ve had one and all of mine are wearing through. Luckily, Mother squirrelled away some fabric in the blue you like so much. If there’s leftover, I’ll make you a nice shirt. Ha! Then, we’ll match like all of those couples you laugh at.

600 hours, and I cannot breathe.

(The next lines were scrawled so quickly, I could barely read them:)

Oh, god, Charlie. The doorbell just rang… Please, god, just let me breathe…

I could barely breathe. June 30th, 1944: the day Grandpa Charlie came home.