Thursday, May 3, 2012

Eternal Optimist

The letter.  Discovered on the dusty floor behind the dark mahogany bureau, as the team of movers was preparing to haul it out of the tiny bedroom.  It was early morning in the fall of 1967.  The owner of the home, and the bureau, Howard Douglas, had been gone two months now.  The squat little cottage was going to be sold.  His heirs needed the money.

The natural assumption, of course, was that somewhere in the passage of time, the letter had slipped unseen from the top of the bureau and settled in the dark inch of space between the back of the heavy piece of furniture and the wall.

A casual glance, however, would easily spot the brittle strips of cellophane tape barely clinging to the rough unfinished board on the back of the bureau.  Pieces of tape that had already released their grip on the yellowed paper of the envelope.  So the letter was not lost after all, but had been intentionally concealed.  How many years had the letter waited in silence, refusing to give itself away?

With calloused hands, and curious eyes, one of the movers, a balding man with a broken front tooth, removed the letter from the envelope, and began to read.


July 23, 1944


Because you are reading this, I know that my brother Howard has carried out my plans by retrieving this letter from its secret hiding place and delivering it safely to you.  And you, safe as well, are home from the war!

Now that you know where to find me, I am so excited to see you that I can hardly stand it!  We will finally be together-no more secrets, no more running away.

Yours, my love.   Always and forever.



“Well ain’t that a shame.  Looks like lover boy never got the message.”  And with that, the calloused hands crumpled the sheet of paper and the envelope, and tossed them on the trash pile in the center of the room.  It was close to noon.  Abandoning, for the time being, the task of moving the bureau, the movers broke for lunch. 

Unseen by anyone, except perhaps, for a small gray spider perched near the ceiling, one of the movers re-entered the room.  A boy, slight in build and in his early teens-with a full head of blond hair, braces on his teeth, and a brother off fighting, and now missing, in Vietnam.   Hastily this boy retrieved the letter and the envelope, and hid them under his cap.

Later that afternoon, when evening was only a few remaining patches of sun light away, and the little house stood empty, the sentimental teenager climbed into the back of the moving truck and squeezed his way over to the bureau.  Taking a roll of packing tape from the pocket of his jacket and setting  it on top of the bureau, he removed the letter and envelope from beneath his cap, and with reverent hands smoothed them out before placing the one back inside the other. Reaching for the tape, he pulled off a suitabe length, and carefully reattached the envelope to the rough unfinished board, exactly where it had first been attached years earlier.

Pausing, before he left the truck, he spoke in a voice so soft that he almost didn’t hear himself.

“Don’t give up hope Anna.  Never give up hope.”

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