Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are caustic, hunch and sacrifice.

Letters
The love letters began in the fall of 1975, when they both were 14 and thought they knew everything there was to know about young love.
He’d write her pages of material, done in a tight printed hand, since that summer he’d gotten the idea he wanted to be an architect and printed everything. He used college-lined paper, which he found exotic, and generally folded each note into 16ths, a tidy and convenient package for a girl to slip into the back pocket of her jeans.
She reciprocated with notes done on copier paper, mostly in colored inks, and dotted her i’s with hearts.
He smoothed his notes out and kept them in a manila file folder stolen from his mother’s office. Across the tab – he’d chosen one where the tab was centered – he printed CORRESPONDENCE and then hid the contents in a navy colored footlocker, along with his girlie magazines and BB pistol.
She kept hers folded, stuffed roughly by date received, in a cardboard shoebox.
The letters continued through high school and intermittently through college, since he was studying to be an engineer – still he printed everything like an architect but his signature – and she stayed home to help run the family business.
She thought the university had changed him somewhat, made him more pretentious that he really should have been. On a hunch, she wrote him a card, told him that her love would never die, and he responded with a single-page letter, typed coolly and somewhat caustic on his new word-processor. In it, he discussed the his New World View, the sacrifices he wasn’t prepared to make, given all that he needed to see and do. He said he loved her, too, but that all things change.
She responded, hurt and angry across handwritten words smeared with her tears. Her pain bled through the words, but in the end, she said she’d always love him no matter what.
The years progressed and he advanced his career in different cities, married twice. The marriages didn’t take, and he moved through the world looking for the next big thing.
She stayed home, of course, took over the business and dated sporadically. There had been one man she developed a strong like for, and wrote him about it. He sent a bouquet via Teleflorist, with a business-sized card he didn’t actually pen but dictated, wishing her the best. He was overseas at the time, overseeing a project with great purpose and potential.
Whole years went by without correspondence.
She slowly built her family’s business into a position of strength and became the Midwest hub of a great and growing empire. She remained friends with her suitor, but held out hope that one day, her love would come back to her.
She continued to send him cards throughout the years, never quite going as far as she once did, but signing off always with, “I Will Love You always” before signing her name.
He’d reached mid-life in crisis, having lost his job to those engineers both younger and less expensive and the slide continued through health problems that manifested into a serious case of depression. Medications were tried and failed.
She had switched her correspondence to email, and sent him encouraging electric bits of letters that encouraged him to be strong, that he was loved.
He crashed one weekend and in a haze of pills and booze, decided that his time had come to an end. He’d gotten out a yellow legal pad and tried to write a note that would explain all the hurt the pain. But instead, the words poured from him to her, 40 years of everything he’d swallowed in the name advancement. He wrote until he could not write any longer and drifted off into a sleep he hadn’t found in years.
When he awoke, he felt a calmness. He picked through the hand-scrawled pad, frightened by what he found. It was emotional, pure.
He sealed it in a large white envelope and mailed it to her.
She responded with a card that said simply, “Come Home.”
They sit on the porch of a great old house, laughing at the antics of the neighbor children and their new puppy. He slips a hand under hers, deposits into her palm a letter tightly folded into 16ths. In it, he tells her about his day, tells her how much he loves her.
She smiles and gets up, kisses him and slips inside to file this new note in the shoebox he keeps on the mantel.

22 comments:

anthonynorth said...

A different departure for you, but beautifully handled.

Crystal Phares said...

Thom, this isn't your normal dark writing, but it is beautiful. You did a great job. Thanks for sharing.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

I don't comment here often, but do stop and read quite frequently...very poignant story today, as life often is.

ganymeder said...

That was beautiful. I teared up a little.

Lilibeth said...

Oh. How sweet. I'm sure that's not the kind of compliment you are used to hearing. Ha ha. Oh well. I did so like the shoe box ending that completes the thought cycle.

Stan Ski said...

Poignant for sure - almost a tear jerker.

Dee Martin said...

Thom, you end with the shoebox that HE keeps but it was she who kept her letters in a shoebox, Was this a typo or is she a he or does she now have a he? It does make for a lovely tale...just wondering?

lissa said...

this feels like one those hallmark movies or those tales that are often told from a third point of view, strangely sweet

Thomma Lyn said...

Oh wow -- this tugs at my heart strings in a major way. A poignant story, beautifully told.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

What Dee said.

Although the ever-patient woman is very much a cliche, the career angle makes it fresh and interesting. Sometimes we don't have to go looking for happiness because it's right under our nose.

Jay Thurston said...

This was an unexpected heartfelt story... I anticipated something extra-dark from you after reading the three words! Great job, keeping your readers on their toes!
One little possible fix here:

"the university had changed his somewhat,"

Was "his" supposed to be "him"? Perhaps it was intended as "his", in reference to the writing style... not sure.

Anyways, cool piece!

b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
b said...

Everyone should love this story...the perfect ending to a first love. I suspect there are many people wishing for that very thing.

b

b said...

Thomas...just an added note in response to Jay's comment above. I don't this that an "s" or an "m" make one whit of difference. This is suppose to be for fun and if we had proof readers they would catch this stuff. Often we do this sort of thing intentionally because it actually reflects the way we talk.

I also wanted tell you how much I loved Travels with Charlie. I read it after traveling across the country in a small class c motor home. Even though 40 years transpired between Steinbeck's journey and mine, it rang true in every way.

I love blogger but often wonder how it is going to hold up over the years. I suppose that keeping an archive of our own writing at home is always a good idea. We used to talk about "blog rot" but I don't even know if that is a problem anymore.

Thank you for all you do. It is appreciated.

b

aspiemom said...

This was very sweet. I loved that they found love later. It happens that way sometimes.

Marisa Birns said...

You wrote a terrific piece!

Poignantly wonderful.

Anton Gully said...

A different sort of spring to autumn romance. Really lovely.

Sulci Collective said...

Wonderful tracking of emotional & life states through the different types of letter writing and paper the message was borne on.

Some lovely phrases too, such as 2 "marriages didn't take"

It might make a really beautiful artwork if you reproduced each of the actual letters in the form you describe them here and present them in an installation.

I think this is my introduction to your work and everyone is telling me it isn't your norm!

Laura Eno said...

Beautiful, poignant. So much time behind them. You captured the foldings so well that it brought back memories for me. :)

one more believer said...

yes, thommyg he is a mess.. but the writing flows and ebbs in just a tide that leads the reader on... it is a good ending that is a mystery.. he could go either way... and then the house and the kitty... yeah...

mazzz in Leeds said...

I kept wanting her to buck up and get over him, but it looks like she got what she wanted in the end, so I'll shut up.

Tumblewords: said...

I like the gentleness, the hope and the spilling of forever in this piece. A pleasant read!