The Last Letter

July 6, 2015

    Why? Why am I here? Why should I have to suffer for the poor choices others made. For their greed and pride...
    I have a family too. I have--had--a life. Whatever happened to every man is equal America? What, did that just not apply to black people? I am fighting for their freedom.
    I am also fighting for my life, here on the battle field. Why? I'm sure every man around me, even the still warm bodies laying on the crimson ground, have found themselves asking that question after each battle.
     I took a deep breath as I began to answers that question for myself. I believe in what I'm fighting for. I believe in equality for all. Not just blacks, not just the poor, not just men. I believe that Lincon will see us out of these dark times. In fact, I know it.
    One last thing...I know I'll see my family again. But until then, untill the war's over and we can start to rebuild our lives, I'll settle for reaching out to them in letters.
    I promised myself right then that I would write to them at least once a week. And if anything went wrong...I would have to try to make the best of it. No--no actually,I just wouldn't tell my children or my wife at all; they already lost their uncle, they don't need or want another thing to worry about.
    I shook my head. Don't think like that, nothing will go wrong, you can do this Robert. You can, no you will, see your family again.
    I constantly thought about my two loving children and caring wife all night to avoid giving up. This would be the third time that I've talked my self out of abandoning my beliefs.
    However, I didn't get a fourth chance. The next battle--That's... when my life changed.
    Bill and I always fought back-to-back. Him and I became good friends: reminiscing about the good old days, mourning each others loses. Sometimes it was just sharing a good laugh or cry with each other. We would protect one another and do whatever we could to make sure the other man got home.
    Unfortunately, neither of us thought about the downsides of fighting back to back.
     One second I was defending freedom, the next all I could feel, taste, and hear was a sharp, burning pain. I saw red. I was suddenly aware I was on the ground, and my back felt warm. All I could think about was the pain. The pain...
    I was going into shock, I couldn't think straight, my hands became clammy. It took me a moment to realise that Bill must have been shot. The "minnie ball" (a type of bullet used extensively in the civil war) must have passed through him and lodged itself in my chest. It took me another instant to realize that Bill was probably dead. My head swam but I managed to turn around just enough to get a glimpse of his dead body.
    He was dead. I had failed him. But in the next instant I reassured myself that I couldn't fail my family. Not them too. A few men carefully, but hurriedly, carried me to the edge of the firing zone before rushing back into what would be certain death for so many of them.
    There a man ran up to me. Just one, that's all that could come with all the other wounded soldiers. Good, he was a doctor, he would save me.
    I can't remember what happened next. But later on, I don't know how long, I remember sitting in a bed. In a room with the dead and the hurt. The first thing I did was write to my family, I explained my situation, all though that's not what I originally planned. After many weeks with the nurses and doctors I was still very sick and on the verge of death. Don't worry, I said, I'll see them again.
    I found out the the bullet wasn't lodged in my chest, though very close in my right shoulder. One of the most painful parts was when they retrieved the minnie ball from my flesh, with nothing to kill the pain but a swing of whisky and a bullet to chew on to prevent me from screaming.
    Then I was told to write a letter to my wife Ruthy and my two kids Bell and Albert. Today...Today they're going to amputate my right arm. Not many survive the process. So I proceeded to write the most meaningful letter I could muster. But it wouldn't be the last letter.
    Finally; after many pages of feeling, emotions, and words were sealed in an envelope addressed to my home in Main, my closed my eyes and awaited what was to come, anxious to get back home when I was better.

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This article has 19 comments. Post your own now!

msully44 said...
Nov. 19, 2015 at 7:10 pm
Ok, so I love the story. You have a good flow, and a fantastic pace. I am a large fan of leaving certain endings open, to let the reader come to a conclusion, or maybe if the author wants to write another segment, that option is readily available. So with your ending, I quite enjoyed it. One bit of advice I would offer, is to simply close read your story after you finished. There are several past-present tense issues, and one or two awkward phrases. I know it sounds stupid, but reading it aloud ... (more »)
ThisEmilyDa1 replied...
Dec. 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm
Thanks for the advice, I know that I have quite a few errors in this story, and just haven't felt like fixing them lately. Most of the things on my TeenInk account are not my best peices as I save the ones I'm most proud of for competitions or my self. Thanks you so much for the advice, it really really does help a ton, it didn't sound stupid t all and I will try to read over more after I complete the final project in the future. And thanks to anyone who is commenting on my stories, it's grate, ... (more »)
ThisEmilyDa1 replied...
Dec. 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm
Temperance said...
Oct. 18, 2015 at 10:02 pm
I really enjoyed this work. It felt very real to me, and that is a very important component in writing. I love the description "crimson ground". Very dark and haunting. I just really like it and I know its a simple thing to say, but simplicity (in this case) means so much. Thank you for sharing, keep writing!
thisEmilyda1 replied...
Oct. 19, 2015 at 4:31 pm
Thanks for your comment! And your support I'll keep trying to get better.
guard-girl said...
Sept. 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm
Wow this is so descriptive! The imagery is fantastic. There were a few spelling and grammar mistakes, but other than that it was really good :) I liked it
thisEmilyda1 replied...
Sept. 23, 2015 at 11:08 pm
Thanks for you input, really awesome. :)
ellwist said...
Aug. 23, 2015 at 6:00 pm
Okay, now I see you have some diversity in your work. That's very good. Standing alone, I felt this could've been better if it was an actual letter from Robert to his family, detailing the loss of Bill and the smiles of his children and how he'll never be able to pick up a gun or a quill ever again. I think it'd especially help the political conversation you were starting when you said 'blacks' and 'men' and equality, with Robert being able to pour his thoughts into it. Show, don't tell really,... (more »)
thisEmilyda1 replied...
Sept. 2, 2015 at 7:23 pm
Thank you soooo much, really helpful. I did co spider writing the letter or writing the entire story as the letter. I decided not to because I wanted to write a story not a letter, but I can see now how that would have helped me to show not tell and make the readers feel more like part of the story. Maybe ill consider that in the future, and thanks for what you said about not writing Robert but Being Robert, it helps.
ellwist replied...
Oct. 18, 2015 at 10:05 am
Sorry, late reply. Plenty of short stories are letters. In fact, I consider anything involving words to be stories--coffee conversations, text messages, monologues. Art is an infinite medium, and writing is only bound by words. So never resist the opportunity to try new things.
thisEmilyda1 replied...
Oct. 18, 2015 at 7:13 pm
Okay thank you, I'll try to keep that in mind then.
lilycalla16 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 14, 2015 at 9:20 pm
Hi Emily, I liked the story and like MasterSun said you had great details. The description feels real and heartfelt. However, there were some spelling and grammar errors that kind of broke the spell at times, so to speak (for example, do you mean "Maine" instead of "Main"?). I think if you cleaned it up a bit this could be a really great war story!
thisEmilyda1 replied...
Aug. 22, 2015 at 2:42 pm
thank you for the advice,I'll try harder to remember things like that.
MasterSun said...
Jul. 13, 2015 at 5:22 pm
Emily, nice emotions and the details were heartfelt. The only thing pherhaps you describe certain things with more detail or another lke this quote"Don't tell the moon was shining tell the glint of the broken glass"
thisEmilyda1 replied...
Jul. 13, 2015 at 6:33 pm
Thank you for your comment, I, too, want to be an author one day. Thanks for your advice, I will try to watch out for that as I write new stories.
stenova This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 11, 2015 at 9:16 pm
Whoa. That had so much emotion in it and a lot of really good stylistic choices. I can almost feel like I'm on the battlefield. I also really really love how it's so drenched in Civil War references without feeling forced. You're pretty fantastic, can't wait to read more of you! I had to do a war piece for school and it was pretty hard but you make it seem easy. Really amazing!! :)
thisEmilyda1 replied...
Jul. 12, 2015 at 9:59 am
Thank you so much, I'm sure your piece was great too. Your comment was very nice means a lot. :)
wilds said...
Jul. 8, 2015 at 5:14 pm
oh my god. wow this was a really good story. you are really good i wish i was this good. keep up the good work.
thisEmilyda1 replied...
Jul. 8, 2015 at 11:37 pm
Wow that's.know you so much for you kind comment! :) made my day this really means a lot to me and I'm sure that you are better than you give yourself credit for, keep trying you will improve any way! Ill be sure to check out your work too
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