To Mark

Happy May!  Here’s another flash piece I’ve cooked up.  It’s about six hundred words long, and is in the form of a letter.

To Mark


To Mark,

Hello, old friend.  I haven’t seen you in ages.  Why don’t we catch up?  There’s so much to tell.  Ever since you left for the war I’ve been out there in Oregon running a little tourist beach shop just like we used to talk about doing.  You know, watching the waves roll in isn’t as boring as I thought it’d be.  I actually enjoy it.

I followed your progress in the war from the newspapers out there.  I looked all the time for any battalions mentioned, and then I always looked for yours.  I never found much though, which is to be expected.  They can’t be putting too much of that stuff out there for just anyone to read.  But I was very proud to know someone that went into Berlin in `45.  I told everyone out in Oregon that I knew a hero.  They were just as proud too, except for some people.  Some people were worried.  They’d say things like you know he’s not coming home right?  Or I hope you get to tell him yourself.  I just ignored their nay saying.

I wrote to your sister to let her know I heard you were in Berlin and she wrote back saying that she was married and in your last letter you said you saw some things over there that you’d have to tell us in person about.  That writing your words would only make them seem like ghosts of what they should be.

I wrote two more times to your sister asking when you would be coming home so that I could make the trip out to St. Louis and see you, but she never replied.  I don’t know if they got lost in the mail, or if her husband thought I had ulterior motives in mind, but I never heard from her again.

It took me fifty years to find you.  I expected the worst, and that’s just what I got.  I figured that if you really did make it home you would have contacted me.  But now I guess I know why your sister never wrote back.  Our only connection was severed.

Your tombstone is nice.  They really did a good job.  The whole graveyard is nice too.  It’s a big public one in St. Louis.  We probably ran through it a couple times as kids before we learned the names of everything.  I’m sitting beside your tombstone writing this just letting you know that I kept my promise.  Enclosed with this letter is the five dollars I owe you from the theater that night I met Jessica.  You’d be glad to know we’re married now, and have three kids.  I even have three grandkids too.

I’m going to leave this envelope against your tombstone.  I know that some hooligan will probably tear it up, or an animal will find it, or the lawnmower will get it, but I’ll leave it anyway.

My hands just aren’t what they used to be.  If I keep writing I won’t have the strength in them to seal this envelope.  I hope you’re fine wherever you are, dear friend.  Don’t wait too long for me to join you either.  I’ll be there soon enough.  Debt free.

Jim Klingensmitt

St. Louis, 1995





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