She walks along the road toward home, her journey made longer by the weight of her packages and her heart. Sharp stones jut painfully out as she trudges, occasionally stumbling on the uneven brick; the clouds overhead reflect her disposition. She reaches her small house, unlocks the gate and steps in, relieved to finally be free of her burdens. As she sets her packages atop the small wooden table, a bright event appears: the afternoon mail. She shuffles through it frantically, smiling widely when a small, cream-colored envelope drops to the floor. A somber mix of happiness and loneliness sweeps over her at the handwriting which covers the page. The writing is as clear to her as his voice, having served as a meager substitute over the past year. His voice fills her heart and mind, closing slightly the chasm between them. She knows hard times have come upon him and his comrades, because the lines of her last letter to him can faintly be seen through his own thoughts. Reading, the sights and sounds of battle appear unbidden, assaulting her peace of mind. She moves to the careworn desk, settling against the creaky old chair. As she does so, the small worries and cares of her life surround her: the dull wallpaper and the faded cloth of her dress subtle reminders that times are hard. Suddenly unable to put pen to paper, the idea of tea strikes her. She stands to make it, and when she has done so, she returns to her seat. Upon her first sip, bitterness assails her tongue, a reminder of the teas they have shared. Birds chirp merrily outside her window, obscene in their happiness. The letter beckons her, begging for a reply. She sighs and begins to write, careful to veil her true thoughts, unwilling to worry him with her fears. She folds the paper, with creases as sharp as the distances between them. As she begins to stand, an unfamiliar noise brings hope: footsteps on the path? She runs excitedly to the window, her heart jumping as the source of the sound appears. He's home! She dashes to greet him, leaving her burdens behind. She hands him the letter she's just written, and they walk together up the path. The jagged stones that had plagued her feet just an hour before are as smooth as dove's wings now; the birds chirp, and she joins the melody. No dark, dismal clouds drape the sky; the sun sends its kindly fingers to warm the earth instead. The house that greets them does not seem to be the same as the one she's just left: the wallpaper is vivid and bright, the wood of the desk smooth and flawless. Light and peace surround her, as they turn to face the world together.
March 1, 2009