The 18th of February 1945 – Bastogne, Belgium

(found in a dusty trunk in a dusty attic)

Dear Linda,

I’m sorry for not writing you sooner. We finally pushed back the Krauts a few weeks ago – we’re chasing them hard now, straight into Germany! – but I didn’t get out of the hospital until this morning. They said that I was out cold in a coma for ten days straight. I only really remember waking up a few times over the past couple of days. But whatever happened to me didn’t hurt me too much so don’t worry.

Maybe they’ll discharge me. That would be too bad, what with the war being so close to over, but I’d love to finally see you again. We’d finally be able to get started on that life we’ve spent so much time dreaming about.

They told me it was Valentine’s Day last Wednesday. I slept right through it! I hope you weren’t disappointed. I hope you weren’t expecting anything. But I’ll make it up to you, I promise, I swear.

This last battle was tough. I really do hope they send me home soon. I’m really getting sick of the blood and the death.

I saw a man’s heart, Linda. It was horrifying, the way he had been revealed to the world. It was a corporal, and I found him lying on his back at the base of an oak tree in the Ardennes. He must have lain over a grenade or a mortar shell because his ribs were just torn right off. I saw his heart, Linda, right out in the cold breeze, in a puddle of red slush at the base of an oak tree in the Ardennes. Somehow the thing was still beating. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

It reminded me of seven years ago. Remember that? I cut a heart out of construction paper and scribbled a little poem on it. I walked right up to you at the dance, by the punch bowl, and I told you how I felt. I told you right in front of everyone, in that stuffy gymnasium, next to the punch bowl.

That heart I cut out of the construction paper looked nothing like his. His was raw and gross and alive.

I need to see you soon. I need to feel you warm in my arms and smell you sweet in my nostrils. I need you soon. I really hope they send me out of this place because I need to be with you soon.

Love,

James

Check out some other really great Valentine’s Day stories here.

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