excerpt: War Letters


Lives behind the lines
Lucas folded the paper carefully, pressing his thumb on the creases to make them flat. He frowned when he noticed he had smudged some of the ink, but there wasn’t time to write the letter over again. They were moving out in an hour, and if he didn’t get the letter in to the post office before he got in the truck, he might not have another chance for several weeks. He lifted the letter and kissed it, then looked around to see if anyone had seen him do it. The others were busy packing their duffle bags and carrying boxes of supplies to the courtyard. Lucas slipped the paper in the air mail envelope and sealed it. He stared at her name written in black ink and framed by the red and blue stripes on the face of envelope.

“God, I hope you get this in time.” He whispered to her. He was tempted to take her picture out. Lucas had tucked it into the inside pocket of his flak jacket, right over his heart. He wondered if she could feel his heart beating through the glossy print. He loved that photo of her. She was smiling at the camera, laughing at something he had just said. Her long golden brown hair hanging down in braids on either side of her head, freckles splashed across her nose and big blue-green eyes staring back at him. Lucas remembered that day. They had spent the afternoon walking through the aspens to the water fall in the woods by his parents’ farm. He held her hand before they both jumped into the water together. She kissed him under the falls and they lay for hours in the sunlight talking about everything and nothing. He missed her. Tears stung his eyes. His eyes were flames from the sand constantly flying around him in this god forsaken desert. He backhanded his face and wiped the moisture away as he stood up. Lucas ran to the makeshift post office and handed it to the man sitting behind the wooden desk.

“You don’t have enough postage on this.” He said, pushing his wire framed glasses back up onto his nose. Lucas snorted.

“Stop shitting me Leroy. There is plenty of postage on it. Just get it in the next bag to go out ok?” Lucas said. Leroy grinned and tossed the letter into the canvas bag next to him.

“Yeah yeah don’t worry. Rain or shine, or some shit like that, your letter will get to her along with everyone else’s” he said with a grin. Lucas feigned a smile. He left the tent and ran back to grab his gear. Lucas threw it onto the back of the supply truck and went to look for his buddy. He found Michael bent over a stack of boxes, swearing at the lid of one of them for not closing properly.

“C’mon you son of a bitch close!” he snarled. Lucas raised an eyebrow and then started to laugh. Michael glared at him.

“Shut up and get over here. I need a hand with this” he said. Lucas chuckled and went to help his friend.

“You’re always the last to pack up. Why is that?” Lucas asked. Michael grunted and slipped the lock on the lid.

“Finally!” Michael said. He stood back with his fists on his hips. Lucas laughed.

“You’re such a girl.” He said to Michael. Lucas hoisted two of the boxes up in his arms and started out of the room.

“Geez what the hell do you have in these?” Lucas asked. Michael picked up his duffle bag and a smaller bag at his feet.

“Rocks.” He said. Lucas stopped and looked back over at him.

“Are you kidding me?” Lucas asked. Michael shook his head.

“Seriously – we have to take samples you know.” Michael said. He looked around the tent to see if he had forgotten anything. The floor of the tent was empty except for the cot and table.

“I can’t believe you are making me carry boxes of rocks.” Lucas complained.

“Hey man I am not making you do anything.” Michael said, pretending to be hurt. “You know my back is not great, and my knees, yeah and..”

“Shut up idiot” Lucas said puffing his way across to the supply truck. “There better be room for all of this shit in the truck.”

“There will be, there will be.” Michael reassured Lucas. Michael jumped up onto the back of the truck and stuck his arms out.

“Come over here and hand me the first box.” He said to Lucas. Lucas grunted and walked to the edge of the truck. Once the boxes were loaded, Michael jumped down and rubbed his belly.
“Let’s grab something from the market square before we take off.” He said, running down the sandy street to the white walled market. Lucas looked at his watch.

“there’s no time. We have to go. The plane takes off in three hours.” He said to the wind. Michael had already disappeared into the market. Lucas rolled his eyes and started to run after him.

“Shit.” He said, jumping over a small group of chickens who were randomly pecking at the ground.
“Michael, wait up” Lucas called after him. Lucas didn’t see the truck bearing down on him until the last second. He tucked himself into a ball and rolled out of the way just in time.

“What the f….” Lucas said into the dirt. The tires screeched as the truck came to a stop. Lucas was trying to stand up when he felt arms on him, dragging him backwards. A black hood was rammed over his head, and pulled tightly around his neck. Lucas tried to shout and pull away but he couldn’t. He landed on something hard and blacked out.

war letters


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