Monday, January 12, 2009

Letters (Part Six)

(Letters is my series exploring a war-
time relationship across the miles. Here are
Parts One , Two, Three, Four, and Five.)

Dear Elise,

I’m coming home.

Are you still standing? Good. Because it’s not for at least a month more. But there is a day now. Something to work toward, and live for. Spring has come early this year.

My dear, you were right about this illness. It’s not the flu. I acquired a case of bacterial diphtheria. It’s nearly a pandemic around here. I have to be quarantined for a few weeks more. They tell me I’ll be weak and worthless when I finally get out. As miserable as I have been, I can’t help but want to kiss the little buggers. This thing was my ticket out of purgatory. I have no shame in the joy and relief I feel. Not while looking at your photograph. You seem to be smiling for a reason.

I have suffered, Elise. You were right to worry. I apologize for wanting to protect you. I see now that the truth is our strongest tether. Because it’s a straight line. Not curved, like even the kindest deception. Never seeing what’s around the bend. Only shadows. That wasn’t fair to you. I am sorry, my dear.

It’s hard to think in this place. To dissect your own thoughts. And stitch them back together again. It’s taken me all day to write this, to find a head for normalcy. Everything has weight here. It’s a chore to swallow, and work to breathe. The room is baking something spoiled, under this cloying perfume of disinfectant. Hannah hands me cotton soaked in alcohol to keep near my nose, so I don’t have to inhale the bodily juices of all my fellow sardines. Yes, blood has a smell. Chemical. Cuts straight through. I thought I knew it well from the field, but it’s a constant companion here. The alcohol stings, but at least it doesn't have a history.

I’m getting tired, Elise. Not making much sense. This happens at night now. I will find you in dreams, and finish the rest.




Part Seven is here


Ello said...

I love the line "Not curved, like even the kindest deception." It's beautiful!

How is everything else going? Am excited to hear all the details!

Anonymous said... I don’t have to inhale the bodily juices of all my fellow sardines.

I really felt for him with his descriptions of the ward. And blood having a memory. That's a great insight.

As much as I look forward to him being home, I also worry about the immense pressure of the reality of the homecoming. I hope they bask in what happens and don't implode by everything that's not quite right or missing.

I'm rooting for them. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

"To find a head for normalcy." Wonderfully said. This is really a fine series.

Sarah Hina said...

Ello, thanks for pointing out that line!

Things are going well. Almost done with the novel revisions (yay!), though I dragged my feet for too long. Hope everything is going well for you, too! :)

Jason, I've thought about those expectations, and how sweet, and misleading, anticipation can be. Maybe more for her, though.

I'm thinking of capping off the series with at least one vignette, because I'm curious to see how it comes about. I'm rooting for them, too. :)

Charles, I'm so glad you've found something worth liking here. I've grown to really like the characters, even if I don't feel like I'm doing justice to the time period and circumstances. Thank you for enjoying it!

Jennifer said...

Hi Sarah,
This is really lovely.

I followed the link from the Ascension contest and that made me go back and read your Halo entry. I am what, a couple of years late?? :) But I just wanted to tell you that it is hauntingly beautiful. Truly amazing

Sarah Hina said...

Jennifer, thank you so much for stopping by!

I really appreciate your going back to take a look at my Halo entry. It was my first contest of Jason's, and will always be special to me. So it means a lot to hear your kind words. Thank you. :)

Was "Translation" your entry? It if was, I loved it. Just my kind of writing. And a beautiful ending, too.

Catvibe said...

Sarah, I am afraid to find out what his coming home will look like, but I do hope for them.

I just read your Halo entry. It really is beautiful writing, as is all of your writing.

Jennifer said...

Hi again. Yes, "Translation" was mine. I wanted to thank you not just for the comments you left for my entry, but for the other entries as well. It was so clear that you really thought about the pieces and offered supportive and specific comments to each. What a wonderful thing to do for your fellow writers!

Vesper said...

Good… there’s better hope now, still tinged by fear of this illness… A few weeks is a long time…

I see now that the truth is our strongest tether. Because it’s a straight line. Not curved, like even the kindest deception. Never seeing what’s around the bend. - I love this fragment!

Sarah Hina said...

Cat, I think I like these characters too much to make it too painful, although I do want it to be honest, too. I'm still figuring it out...

And thanks about my Halo entry! That is still a favorite of mine. Just because it was one of the first pieces of flash I wrote. I appreciate your wonderful support, Cat. It really does mean a lot to me. :)

Sarah Hina said...

Jennifer, thank you again! I do love getting feedback myself, so I like to do the same for others.

I'm so behind right now, though. Jason's never had such a big contest before! Which is really cool. :) Thanks, Jennifer, for letting me know you appreciated my comments. And I am going to get to your blog as soon as I can snatch a minute of time!

Vesper, you're right. Anything could happen still. But the end is so tantalizingly close (I think--can't quite see around the bend myself). Thank you for pointing out that fragment--it was meaningful to me, too. :)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Yay!!! He's going home. I am anxious to know what fate will befall them! I am worried about Patrick...will he be too ill to make it home? Illustrious writing, Sarah. Maybe this could be developed into a novel? ;)

Sarah Hina said...

K, you read my mind (as usual)!

I have thought of turning this series into a book. I don't think it would work as a purely epistolary novel, but to start each chapter with a letter, and alternate the characters' stories is a possibility.

I have anxiety about setting a novel in another time, though. Making it, and a war experience, read authentic. I can be very impatient (read, lazy) with research. ;)

And yet, I am considering it. Once my revisions for this novel are finally done! Ugh. ;)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Yes, perhaps prefacing the chapters with the first person pov letters, then writing the chapters in third-person omniscient - developing in the chapters what can't be understood merely from the letters.....

If anyone can make it work, you can!

Sarah Hina said...

Thank you for the vote of confidence, K! I'm still uncertain, but your outline sounds like what I envisioned.

I feel like there's been no time to think over the concept lately, but I'm not going to let it die without pondering some more. Maybe the characters will let me know. ;)

I will keep you updated! :)

Aniket Thakkar said...

I hope he does get home! :)
I am too engrossed in the story now to comment on your writing skills.... sorry! Off to the next one to know where its going! :)