The 20th of March 1944 – Devon, England

(found in a dusty trunk in a dusty attic)

Dearest Linda,

They’ve still got us holed up here on the coast. I’m not sure what they’ve got planned for us, but it seems to be a whole big thing. At least, it seems like it’s going to be a whole big thing. Right now all we’ve got to do is smoke cigarettes and drink tea.

They’re sending us to France, that’s for damned sure. With North Africa and most of Italy already free of the Germans, all that’s left to do is free the Frenchies. The Germans’ll be ready for us, that’s for damned sure, but there’s good wine on the other side of the coast. They say there’s good women too, but I’ll be good for you, dear. I’ll leave that sort of stuff to the other guys.

Harold keeps asking about you. Maybe you remember him, the private from Bloomington, Indiana? Ever since he saw your picture back at training in Tuscaloosa, he’s been asking about you. So, he says hello, and he hopes your well. He wants you to know he’s doing well, and he’s looking forward to the wine and the women on the other side of the Nazi defenses. He keeps telling me that he’ll get one “for the both of us.” “For the both of us,” he always says. I just laugh.

Boy, are the other guys excited, like we’re all about to step on the field for the first game of a World Series or something. They’re singing songs and whooping and yelling, and I think they’ll be doing that even as we’re lining up to get on our transports. Maybe those Nazi bullets’ll finally get them to shut up.

I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I know it won’t be any baseball game. I’m just going to try to be careful. I want you to know that, Linda. I’m just going to do my best to be as careful as I can be.

I got your other picture, the one you sent a few weeks back. I don’t know if I let you know that, but I got it. You look so beautiful, Linda, standing with that big yellow ribbon tied around that big tree. You should know that, I think. You look so beautiful.

I want a big tree like that in our yard, whenever this mess is over, whenever we can just get on with our lives. I want a big tree like that, an oak with some of those thick branches for tire swings and tree houses. I want a tree and a yard and a house and some kids, and I want it all with you, dear.

I do miss you, Linda. I honestly, really do miss you.

James

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