The Letters You Wrote Me
January 1st, 1944
I miss you. What else to say, dear brother? Though you have only been away for two weeks, it already feels like eternity. Mother claims that you’ll be back soon, though I’m not too sure. She has a habit of sugarcoating her words. Papa is as busy as always, even with the youth gone from New York.
How is the war? A pitiful question, I know, and yet, I can’t help but ask. I’ve heard from Mr. Laurens that when he served only twenty-seven years ago, he described it as a “horrendous prison that shaped boys into men.” His words, not mine.
Life goes on. Hours seem to stretch into days, months, years without the presence of you. Jokes are seldom now, silence stays quiet, and we no longer attend the movies for fear of going forever without you coming back. Church every Sunday is stiff, with almost half the youth missing.
I am sorry that my letter is cut short, Edward. Mother is calling me to help her with Sunday dinner. Happy new years, brother. Take care and don’t die in the trenches. We need you. I need you.
Your sister, Beatrice Rose Farall
January 6th, 1944
Where would you be without me? Lost in darkness, stumbling around blind and dumb, of course. It’s obvious that I’m a necessity. It was kind of you to write, though. First things first: What did you and Mother make for dinner that night you wrote to me? It was probably delicious. I long for a home-cooked meal. Gruel during training just doesn’t taste the same as Mother’s chicken pot pie. I suppose I should be thankful, though. I’ve heard bully beef from the trenches doesn’t have any substance at all.
How has the cafe been faring? Now that sugar’s being rationed out, I don’t suppose our beloved New York has given up on sweets. Have you come up with any new desserts yet? Knowing you, Bea, I can already tell that you are agitated by the limits the country has set on food. A baker has her limits, I guess.
Mr. Laurens is a pitiful man who does nothing except drain the life out of the young and healthy. He dwells on the hatred of this war. I would advise you to stay away from him and live out your own youthfulness. Don’t worry about me, though, little sister. I was born close to the date the war ended. I’m a natural soldier. At least, that’s what my Sergeant claims. But I promise I’ll come back to you. I would never leave you.
Beatrice, before I end this letter, I need you to promise me something. I know you’d say yes, of course. You’re not the same little girl who cried to me about your dolls, but I know your character. This is important, so listen to your wise older brother. I need you to promise me that you’ll keep being the smart, witty, kind, and compassionate young woman that I left home. Don’t let this war change you, no matter how much this world begs you to. Stay yourself and don’t let me come home to a stranger as the closest family member I’ve got. Look after Ma and Papa, care for the cafe, keep being responsible. Promise me, Bea, that you’ll forever and ever be my little sister.
Save me some good food.
Forever your older brother, Edward Farall
January 11th, 1944
My dear brother,
It sounds as if the war is truly not a horrible thing! Only you, Edward, could make such a dangerous situation into something light. Since you wish to know the dinner I prepared on the 1st, it seems that I cannot deny you anything, seeing as you went to fight for our country.
The tomato bisque that I made only seemed appropriate to eat by the spoonful with our snowy weather. Mother baked our bread into croutons and Papa sliced, your favorite, fresh apple chunks, if only to honor your commitment to the army and keep you here with us.
Did you know that they’re filming a movie called, “The Yanks Are Coming” this November? I wish that you would be home by then to see it with me. I remember the fond memories that we spent together there, watching movies that would revive our dreamy childhood. And though I didn’t know then, it was still our childhood that we were living. I now know that this dreadful war will probably measure up to something not short of our first world war, only twenty something years ago.
The cafe’s sales have declined slightly, but not enough to affect us. Yes, rationed sugar is horrible. Sugar-free desserts are something that people would prefer not to buy, and yet, we will all have to learn to live without it for a while, I assume. You are right, dear brother. I’ve always marveled at the way you could always read me. I now know that you can see through my words, too. A baker does have her limits, especially when a war’s ever so prominent.
You insult Mr. Laurens; and yet, I can’t find any untruthful meaning in your words. Everything you claim is true, except that Mr. Laurens does not simply drain young people of our youth; he practically draws it out with every single pessimistic word he utters! Forgive me, Edward, but I cannot refrain from speaking the truth. Mr. Laurens is an old, fat man who I don’t even think served in the war other than to eat.
I’m running my mouth, for goodness’ sake! Nothing a proper young woman can’t handle in times of war, though. My dear Edward, I cannot deny you anything, as I specified earlier. I will do as you ask, but if only you make me a similar promise: Come home alive. My brother, do not act rashly. Keep your hot temper in check. Do not defy your elders. And most importantly, be the brave older sibling that I need.
Write me soon,
Beatrice Farall, Your loyal sister
February 9th, 1944
Sorry that it took so long for me to write this letter. I’ve been moved from regular training to special defense practice. I’m going to be an air raider. Wish me luck, as tomorrow I am going to be on my first ever flight.
How has life been? If I were back home with you right now, I would say that we should go to the movies. But alas, I am stuck in this war. How are Mother and Papa? The cafe? How are you? I know you must’ve been anxious for a word from me, and I am sorry. But duty calls, little sister. You’ll learn that soon enough.
Have you met anyone? I received a letter from Ma saying that you have been seeing a man, one named JAMES PARKER! Baby sister, why did you not tell me? I’m your big brother, and I’m supposed to protect you. Remember the promise that you made me when I went off to war? “I will wait for you to come back before I date so that you may beat him up?”
Excuse me if I seem out of place. Except that you are dating a man without me being home! Alright, alright, I’ll stop venting. But just know that I will be interrogating him when I get home.
I’m sorry that this letter has to be cut short, Bea, but I’m almost late to special defense. I guess I’m going to learn how to fire a gun.
Stay safe and yours forever,
February 14th, 1944
I’m sorry that you just found out about my … er … friend through Mama. Yes, I am in a relationship. Mr. Parker is simply delightful. Please say you can forgive me. I don’t know what I would do if we would ever part. I cannot quite plainly imagine life without you. You are my brother, and no one can ever replace that. Yes, yes, I promise that when you get home, you can interrogate him as much as you want. As long as you don’t scare him away.
I understand that duty calls, Edward. But what I don’t like is when I don’t receive a response from you in almost a month. Outrageous! Yet I have to forgive you. I can’t call myself a Christian and hold it against you.
I can almost see you smiling. This is not funny.
Back to the war. Have you learned to fire a gun? How is it? Does the noise hurt your ears? I’ve heard from Mr. Laurens (yes, I know, I still talk to him) that it rings out like a thump — except ear shattering. Is this true? I can’t even imagine myself going through what you are. You are so brave, Edward.
Have you made any friends? Don’t laugh at me again, now. I’ll be more severely crossed with you, more than I am right now. You must find some companionship. Is it with a woman? If it is, I shall tease you unmercifully. If not, I will ask you when you’re finally going to find a sweetheart.
If you can hear Mother calling, dear brother, then you are not far away from us. You will always be in our hearts. I have to go eat dinner, but I promise you that I’ll write soon. I ask that you do the same.
March 2nd, 1944
I have some news. Bittersweet. But, I’ll get straight to the point. I’ve been promoted to Corporal and I’m coming home in two months. Only for a short period of time, but I’ll still get to see you. After that, I’ll be serving for another twelve months before I will be released from my service.
How are you? How is Mr. Parker? I’ve heard that you’ve been in a serious relationship for two months now. I’m sorry to sound so seldom and lifeless, but I have a pressing question to ask you. I know your answer will be heartbreaking or reassuring.
Are you mad at me?
Dear sister, have I given you a reason to be upset? Was it something I said? Or was it the mere fact that you are busy?
Please write me, for I am frightened that you are somehow holding a grudge. I know that you do not normally, but war changes people.
Love, Edward Farall
March 10th, 1944
How could I ever be mad at you? I don’t know how you could put such a silly thought into your head, but to answer your question, no, I am not upset. What could warrant such a thing?
I’m so sorry that you have two more months to go before we can see you again. I pray that you come to us safely and that I can’t wait to see you again.
How are you faring?
I know, I know, and I’m ever so sorry that my letter is cut short. I fear this is more of a telegram. I’m going out, and I can’t wait to see you again.
Your sister who is not mad at you, Beatrice
March 20th, 1944
Do you remember the time we got into that big fight over your doll? I can’t help but laugh right now, but in the moment, you were so mad at me. It started when I had played with my shoot-the-moon toy. I had moved the metal “sticks,” if that’s what you want to call it, really fast and the marble fell off. You had been playing in front of me with your doll when suddenly a silver marble came flying toward you. You ducked, but your doll took a hit and her button eye broke in half. Your face was priceless, though. I remember the murderous glare you gave me and then half a minute later, you wailed. It was a delayed reaction. Mama came running in, and she was panicking and asked me what was wrong. I was so tempted to lie, let me tell you. But instead I said, “I accidentally killed Bea’s doll.” She looked at me like I was crazy. But when Mama wasn’t looking, you looked at me with this face that made me want to strangle you.
These are the things that I remember when I think I have it hard. I look back to the amazing memories that you and I share, and I think ahead to the times we will have in the future.
I love you so much, Edward
March 28th, 1944
I remember that memory. It was hilarious, looking back on it, but in the moment you were right. I wanted to kill you. My doll was the most important thing to me in that part of my life.
It’s funny to remember things like this, to laugh about it later in life. These good memories we made make my heart warm. I can’t wait to see you when you get home.
Edward … you must promise not to get mad at me. Papa’s given his consent, and now I need yours.
Don’t start yelling yet, brother. Like I said, Papa approves and Mama’s overjoyed. All I want is for you to give your approval. I know you’ve never met Mr. Parker, but I can assure you that he’s an honorable and well-intentioned man. I cannot wait to be called his wife. But I am waiting for you to get home, for I could never imagine my wedding day without you. Please though, before you get too mad, consider that I cannot be your darling little sister forever. I’m twenty-one, Edward. I have grown up quickly ever since you left. I’m not your china doll that needs to be protected and cared for. I’m no longer that innocent child that thought everything would be alright even when things weren’t. I don’t even believe that I can keep you from dying in the war. I know now that I can’t control anything and that Mama or Papa could easily get killed by an air raider. That you could be gone in the blink of an eye. Vanished from my life. Never to be seen again unless in a life after death. To answer your question, brother … It happened while you were gone. I know I made you a promise, but we can’t all help to break a few. I hate to tell you, but I grew up.
I love you. Beatrice Farall
April 4th, 1944
I wish I’d known sooner. I wish that you would have sent a telegram. So that I could memorize the time I had with you. I could save those memories in my heart forever.
I understand that you broke your promise. Sometimes we all can’t help breaking them. Just like I promised to come back …
I trust your judgment for Mr. Parker. I know that if Papa gave his permission, you should be allowed to do whatever you want. So go ahead. Marry him. It might break my heart to see you leave me. But if it’s best for you, then go for it.
Forever by your side, Edward
April 12th, 1944
No, no, no, please don’t be mad. I couldn’t bear for you to be upset. It’s not that I don’t trust you — it’s simply a matter of me being so in love that I completely forgot. Edward, no one will ever replace you. You have to remember that. You will be my only brother in the world. I could never imagine someone taking your place. Even Mr. Parker — he will take another place in my heart. But there is only room for you as my brother, and that can never leave.
Why are you so afraid of losing me? I will never leave you. I might live miles away from you, but you will still be my brother. We’ll still be close. I don’t understand you sometimes.
Please come home. I don’t know how many times I have to plead this with you, but I can’t live without you. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I can’t imagine living without you. How would I get on?
No one can ever replace you. And though I might see you less, talk to you less, I will never love you less. Forgive me, my brother, if it’s the last thing we ever speak about.
I love you, Beatrice
April 19th, 1944
I’m so sorry for being like that in my last letter. I truly only want for you to be happy. My protectiveness of you is what stopped me. I wholly approve of Mr. Parker, and I wish you the best. That is, only if you don’t want me to be at your wedding.
Yes, dear sister. I have been given leave. Plan for your wedding to be in a month. I cannot wait to see you off in this new chapter of your life.
But before I end this letter, however, I will answer your questions. I am afraid of losing you. I’m being honest with you because I trust you. I love you so much that I can’t even imagine life without you. It’s not even a possibility for me. If I were to lose you, I’d be lost in this world. I realize that I will have to let you go someday — now seems good as ever. You will always be my little sister, and I will always love you.
Can’t wait to see you soon, Edward
August 1st, 1944
It was so wonderful to have you at my wedding. I loved seeing you again, and I can’t wait to see you when your service is over. James and I had a simply delightful time and my husband sends his best regards to you.
How are you doing? I know you were disappointed having to return to the bloody war, but you have to remember that you will be home soon. Then, we will stuff you to the tip with home-cooked meals and show you all that you missed. In the meantime, I can only send you letters.
I love the locket you gave me as my gift. It is the most beautiful gift I have ever received, and I wear it around my neck every single day to remind myself that you are still with me, just on a different side of the world.
I can almost imagine your homecoming. We will see you at the train station. Mother and Papa in their best clothes, James and I in our Sunday best, and a little child excitedly ready to meet their uncle.
Yes, dear brother. You are to be an uncle.
I am simply overjoyed to share this news with you. The baby is due in March of next year. I do not have any suspicions of the gender yet — but I will love it whether it is a boy or girl. To think, Edward. You will be an uncle!
Now, more than ever, you must promise to come home. A child will need an uncle to love them when their parents are away, someone to hold them while they are staying with you. I cannot even begin to think of the possibilities of you and this child.
I love you, Edward. Please come back to me, Beatrice Rose Parker
September 10th, 1944
Dear Mrs. Parker,
It is with deep regret that I am writing this to confirm my telegram, it is with my saddest self to inform you of the passing of your brother, Private Edward Farall. His aircraft was shot down in an air raid of 1944 and was found dead at the site. I know that it adds distress that I am not able to provide more information. Unfortunately, the report I received did not contain any further details. But you may be assured that in the event of more information of Private Edward Farall’s death, you will be notified. I have enclosed the only personal possession Private Farall left with his things, along with an unfinished letter. I sincerely regret that this message brings so much sorrow into your home and my deepest sympathy is with you in your bereavement.
Sincerely yours, John Wistelline, Major General
August 29th, 1944
That is amazing. I cannot believe this amazing news. I can’t believe I’m going to be an uncle! It still hasn’t registered with me that you’re having a baby. Or that you’re married.
I’ll be home soon. I promise. Just you promise me that if it’s a boy, his name will start with an “e.” I can’t think of a greater gift for my twenty-fourth birthday coming up soon.
Oh, sorry, have to come back to this letter. My Major General’s here to make my life hell again. Oh well. I’ll be back soon. You won’t even know it.
September 10th, 1944
Oh, Edward. How much I miss you. I will keep this in your locket — where I found it — and always around my neck.
December 25th, 1944
Sometimes it feels like you’re still here. That you haven’t gone on into heaven. Christmas is so lonely without you this year. Silence will never be filled again. I feel as if I will never laugh again. We had a funeral for you a month ago, but we didn’t have your body. We still don’t. It breaks my heart at the thought of you dying alone, all cold and miserable.
My child will grow up without an uncle in their life. They will never know you. They’ll never know the one person I always looked up to.
My life has been devoid of color for months now, ever since we received that telegram. I never wept. I was brave. I didn’t show any weakness. Just like you told me to. I will honor every promise I made to you.
Rest in heaven, Edward. Beatrice
February 14th, 1945
I have a habit of writing to you now. It’s like talking to you.
Except I’m not.
I can say that I’ve gotten a bit better. Which is ironic because I’m not the one who died. But it seems to be that I’m the one who’s been victimized. The only joy that God seems to allow into my life is the soon birth of my child. With their kicks, I believe that I may have a new baby boy on my hands.
I still have my locket. I wear it around my neck every single day as a reminder that you are still here — though maybe not in our world, but you are in our hearts.
I love you. I will never forget you.
March 30th, 1945
My dear brother. You have a nephew. With his eyes like yours and head full of brown hair, I fear he will be just like you. James is overjoyed, as am I. I now have a son to care for, to call my own. Mother is happy, and I think she will be for her entire life. Papa had tears coming down his face when we introduced his grandson.
Edward, you are here with us. We will remember you every day, every night, and we all cannot wait to see you again when we leave this earth. Mama and Papa are waving at you from earth. James is shaking his head at the notion, but he’s smiling. Just a bit. I look up every day to you, brother. And little Eddie says hello.
We love you to the moon and back, James, Eddie, and your sister, Beatrice
Sophia Sohn is a high school journalist and aspiring writer. She is a word addict who’s attracted to sugary coffee drinks and books with serious letters on the cover. She has finished the first draft of her historical romance novel, The Poison Touch, and is currently working on a fictional biography of Adrienne de La Fayette.