Posted in Words Upon Words

The Letter

Last Saturday, my sisters and I went to WAFFLE at my cousins’ house. While they don’t happen often, we always enjoy ourselves when we go as it is a time of encouragement for fellow writers. Per usual, we did a writing prompt inspired by the picture below which Erin found on Pinterest:

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We took a little less than 30 minutes to write. I love old-fashioned letters, so this picture really sparked my imagination. Here is what I came up with (unedited). I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Fear.

Growing up, the emotion I connected with the most was…fear.

Not the kind of fear where you scream and run away. Not the kind where you fall to the ground in a heap of sobs. The kind of fear that paralyzes every bone inside of you…and every thought, too. The kind of fear that prevents you from doing…anything.

It sounds dumb, I know. But if everyone knew what I’d really gone through growing up…they wouldn’t laugh at me. They would pity me.

Needless to say, fear is what I felt when I saw his hand stretch through the hedge with a folded piece of paper. No, the piece of paper had been sealed with wax…like they had been decades ago. My hand trembled as I reached out to accept it.

But I couldn’t.

I swallowed hard, willing myself not to cry. Take it, I thought. Just…take it. Take it and run! But I always was pretty pathetic.

“Betsy…”

My heart skipped a beat to hear his voice. I opened my eyes, realizing they had been closed for who knew how long.

“Betsy…I’m sorry.”

My fingers brushed the letter. But they didn’t have enough strength to take hold. He dropped it, assuming I had it in my grip, and it fell to the grass at my feet. I didn’t dare look through the hedge into his eyes…but I wanted to.

“One day, Betsy.”

The tears I had been keeping back slipped down my cheeks as I stared at the letter. I forced one word out of my mouth. “Coward.”

“Betsy, please. You—you have to understand.”

I set my jaw and lean down. I suddenly have the energy to pick up the letter and stuff it in the pocket of my dress. Not only that, but the energy to speak.

“You promised, Harry.”

Silence.

“You promised me that after the war…everything would be the same as it was.

“How was I supposed to know what would happen after the Germans…” His voice was soft, but tense.

“It doesn’t matter anymore. If you don’t have the courage to…to face…then I suppose we were never meant to…” I took a deep breath. “Goodbye.” I turned away.

“Betsy, please!” Harry yelled.

The hedge shook behind me, but I kept walking. This was the last time I would let him take away my dignity, my pride, my courage. I couldn’t depend upon him any longer. Maybe it was never right of me to in the first place.

“Betsy! I’m doing this for you!”

I smirked, feeling the usual sensation of fear slip away. I took out his letter and prepared to tear it.

“Don’t just walk away like that. After all we’ve been through…you’re not even going to give me a proper farewell?”

The sound of paper ripping seemed to stop him. The satisfaction that came from tearing that piece of paper…I’ve never felt anything like it.

But then the fear crept back in.

Why had he given me a letter in the first place? What on earth could he write that he hadn’t already said? I didn’t need another letter from him. I didn’t want one. He didn’t owe me anything.

I suddenly turned around. He was walking through the hedge. I felt my heart palpitating. He had never…no…we had never crossed the hedge before. Ever. What was he thinking? I looked around frantically. If we were caught…then I really would have something to fear.

My fear multiplied and I realized I was running. Running, running. Then I realized I was yelling. “Stop! Stop, Harry, stop! If my father catches you—”

But as soon as I reached the hedge, he was out of it and as soon as I stumbled Into him, unable to slow my momentum, he was embracing me. I fought it at first, still yelling.

“He’ll kill you! He’ll kill you, Harry!” I was sobbing.

He kept his arms wrapped tight around me. “Betsy…you weren’t even going to read it?”

“You’re leaving me…you’re leaving me…” I repeated over and over again. “They all leave me and they never come back…ever. You said…you said this would be the war to end all wars…so why should you leave? What could possibly…”

“Why did you tear it?”

“Because it was all a lie. Everything you said…everything you did. You lied about all of it. And you didn’t even have the courage to tell me.”

“How could I tell you? How?” His voice rose in intensity and volume.

I finally broke away from him, tears still streaming down my face. “You…you…” I looked down at the two pieces of paper in my hands. To prove my point, I opened them and put them together. I read it quickly…

He was walking backwards.

My heart almost stopped. This wasn’t a confession of all Harry’s lies and deception. It wasn’t more lies either. It didn’t have anything to do with the war, the Germans, his parents, or even my parents…

I looked up. “Harry?”

But he was gone.

The first time he had ever crossed the hedge…and I didn’t even get a good look at him. Was he as tall as he seemed or shorter? Were his eyes as blue as the sea or more gray? Why didn’t I stop him from leaving?

“Harry?” My lower lip trembled. My heart rose in my throat. “Please…I…I do, too.”

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