The Last Letter

A short story about a lost love - originally written for my A-Level Literature coursework.

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1. The Last Letter

 

It was on a cool September night, when the air was crisp and the silence stretched beyond the tiny cottage that Ida Linch felt secure enough to dwell on her past. In the warmth of a self-made blanket, she tossed herself gently back and forth in the jaded rocking chair and pulled out a letter. Stained with age, it was a letter once written from an old love; a letter that bore a painful remorse she had never been able to ease.

George: that was his name. It had been the last letter that he had ever written as a soldier during the war. The words were faded, but still visible enough to read.

            Upon seeing and touching the dusty remnants of their relationship, Ida felt a sheer sense of emotion rising within her. It was not something she was entirely inclined to do; the letter hadn’t been opened for over forty years.  But in the time that Ida had watched her son become more like the man she once loved, she knew that the time had come for her to truly put the past behind her. And now, sitting under the stars on her front porch with the crickets as her companions, she felt ready.

A stray tear escaped her eyes, but she hastily brushed it away and opened the letter.

 

My dearest Ida,

 

It has been several weeks since my last letter. I deeply apologize for the delay, but writing has become something of an impossible task. I wish that I could see you again. I wish that I could hold you in my arms and feel you there beside me; to feel your hair, your skin, your lips. I wish that I could feel every inch of you as we lie beneath the stars, wondering whatever is beyond them. Do you remember that? It was the summer of 1929. You were just nineteen and I was twenty-two. We lay there for hours talking about marriage and a family and love. It was everything we dreamed of, everything we achieved.

            I wish it could be like that again, Ida. Here in Germany it is nothing like that. I have seen some wonderful things throughout my life – experienced wonderful things – yet nothing I see here is wonderful. It impacts the other soldiers in such a way that I sometimes wonder if I’m becoming that way myself. Every morning I wake sick and restless from the night before. There is never any peace. No birds sing. No flowers grow. It is just yards and yards of treacherous mud. I ache to be home with you.

            Anyway, I don’t want to worry you. How’s Jack? Does he still remember me? He was such a charming little man the last time I saw him. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger, apart from the green eyes. They were yours, always so mischievous and impossible to be angry with. Tell him I love him, will you. I’ll be home soon and we can make that tree house he’s always wanted.

            Oh Ida, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the family. When I return, I think we should have another baby; a little girl called Martha. Jack would make a wonderful big brother. He would help me fix the house up and bring in the money, and Martha would help you to cook and clean. Wouldn’t you like that? Perhaps I’m thinking too quickly. I only hope you feel as happy about the idea as I do.

I have to stop now. If I don’t, I will carry myself away and that is something I cannot afford to do. I hope this war will end soon. I miss you dearly.

 

With love, George

 

Ida’s heart ached with despair. She longed for that family – that life that George had so perfectly painted. In any other life, she believed that she may have had it. But this life – this withered body she was caged in – was not made to be perfect. This new reality, she thought, was blunt and undoubtedly painful. But it was over now and she was finally free. Her heart no longer felt heavy, and she knew that George had died with a heart full of love for her. He would be waiting on the other side, just like she remembered him, and they would finally be reunited.

            Ida could forget about the remorse and the anguish now. She could finally be happy. She could finally let go.

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