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My Dearest Love

This is a germ of a novel I’ve had in my head for many years. When Ionia presented the Love Letters prompt, I knew it was a sign to put the ideas to paper: this is its first outing. Eventually, provided D leaves me be at some point, it will be an intertwining tale of three love stories told over great distances.

My Dearest Evelyn,

While war continues, I would not write of it. I would spare you the details of my daily horror.

When I write to you, it is to forget that I am far from you, far from your embrace. I wish that I had been brave enough to speak to your father and ask for your hand before this started. I have faced enough secesh as punishment for my fear, and I will speak to him.

* * *

Samuel,

Your words fill me with hope that I will see you again. How foolish we were to think that this war would only last a week. Our nation is divided and my heart weeps. I will follow your advice, and think of you only as I remember you, for to imagine you amidst all that devastation is almost more than I can bear.

I think, in light of your new status in the military, you will find Father’s measure of you much improved, or else I have seriously misjudged his character.

Keep safe, my love.

* * *

My Dearest Evelyn,

Forgive me for keeping secrets from you. Once I knew that I would be granted leave for Christmas, I wrote to your father straight away. He has granted that we may wed.

I would not take you from the bosom of your family until this dreaded war is over, but please, do me the honor of becoming my bride when I return?

* * *

Samuel,

You must ask? Foolish boy, I love you with all my heart.

Mother is already a-flutter with preparations. She laments that we will not be able to go travelling as they did in her day, to celebrate amongst the family, but she is happy just the same.

I, on the other hand, am not merely happy. I am almost beside myself with joy. Your words have filled me up near to bursting and I fear I may cry out, laugh or sing with the feel of it!

* * *

My dearest,

That I can call you wife, and yet not be by your side is more difficult than I would have ever imagined. Pray for me, my love; pray that I may return to your side, that I may have your sweet whispers in my ear once more. Pray that this war is over soon.

* * *

My love,

Mother says that ardor cools as daily life intrudes, but I have not found this to be true. Perhaps it is that I have yet to know you day-to-day. I remember you though, the feel of you by my side as I slept. At night I kiss the air where you once were and weep to know that you are not there. My heart is full of the good nights and good mornings that have not yet been.

Knowing that you are mine, that they may yet be only flames my ardor for you more. You may think me indecent, but my love for you only grows.

Let me be your beacon of light, guiding you home.

* * *

My Dearest Evelyn,

Your letters do me well, my love. I feel your kisses at night and they keep me warm, safe in this chill.

I do not find you indecent, dearest Evelyn. Your blushes and modesty have no place with me anymore. I would fill your days with kisses and more were I there. I will be there. With your love guiding me, I will be there.

* * *

My love,

The neighbors say that this war cannot last much longer. I pray that the year 1865 ends this horror. The thought of your smile, the memory of your touch, and the echo of your laughter stays with me, and cheers me. With them, I traverse the darkest hours of the night and live in hope that I will see you again soon.

* * *

My Dearest,

Your words, you once said, should be my beacon of light. I tell you that they are so. Your love is my guiding star, my heaven. I have suffered but the promise of home keeps me. The war is over, they say. We will be coming home. Once I would have leapt with joy at the news, now I weep that I have been gone so long. Wait for me.

* * *

He knocked at the door and collapsed before it could open. Clutched in his hand was a scrap of paper, scrawled with a near-unintelligible hand.

Evelyn opened the door and nearly tripped on the half-starved scarecrow that lay in a heap. There had been so many returning, so many seeking a warm fire, a bit of food, that she had stopped searching their faces for her dear Samuel.

He woke, stretched out before the fireplace. The tatters that had once been his fine uniform were gone, replaced by scratchy blankets. The fire blazed, cheerful and comforting. He tried to turn his head, but found that even this small movement cost him more than he could spare.

“Don’t move, Samuel,”

Evelyn. He tried to say her name, to feel it on his lips once more. She kissed him silent. Her lips were salty.

“Don’t speak, my love. We didn’t know if you would wake. The doctor has been and gone; he was amazed you made it this far. Oh, Samuel, my dearest love.” She clutched his letter in her hand. At least she would understand why. She kissed him again and rested against him. He breathed her in, surrounding himself with her. On her sweet perfume, he drifted off into the darkness, never to wake.

* * *

My Dearest Evelyn,

It was all I could do not to run all the way home when I received my discharge. That I was not permanently maimed or prisoner in some war camp was solely by the grace of God. That I prayed to you instead of him may have been my undoing. The roads are not safe between here and you, and I was set upon in the night, attacked and shot. I fear it will be the death of me.

Forgive me, my love. Forgive me for not being able to be with you; forgive me for those beautiful babies yet unborn, forgive me for not growing into old age with you. I love you, Evelyn and I am so desperately sorry. If God is good, he shall grant that I watch over you, and love you for as long as you are upon this earth, my dearest. I feel your kisses yet, Evelyn and they still stave off the chill.

All my love,

Samuel

Background: The home my parents built was haunted. It was actually two civil-war era log homes dismantled and rebuilt together – most of the ghosts accompanied the timbers in the move.  Evelyn and “The Soldier” to whom I have given the name Samuel, resided the formal dining and living rooms respectively. Their close proximity as ghosts led me to wonder whether or not they knew each other in life. Evelyn was a bit of a cheeky old lady, and I always thought – even as a child – that she had waited for “the soldier” and that he had died in her arms.

About KM Sullivan

Descended of pirates and revolutionaries, KM Sullivan is a lover and student of all things Irish. Born in the States, she is a dual US/Irish citizen, and studied history and politics at University College, Dublin – although, at the time, she seriously considered switching to law, if only so she could attend lectures at the castle on campus. She lives in the American Midwest with her son, two cats and a pesky character in her head named D (but you can call him Dubh). Her first book, Changelings: Into the Mist, a young adult historical fantasy is available now on Amazon and Barns and Noble. She can be found writing with said character at her blog, The D/A Dialogues.

14 comments on “My Dearest Love

  1. Reblogged this on The D/A Dialogues and commented:

    D: A love story, how sweet.
    A: It is sweet, D. And one day I may actually get to tell the whole thing.
    D: This story has been rambling about up here for a while – Evie and I are good chums. The second story is loosely based on your grandparents, yes?
    A: Where are you going with this?
    D: I’m just wondering about the third story.
    A: It hasn’t happened yet. I’m working on it.
    D: Will it have ghosts?
    A: No, I think Evelyn and Samuel do that just fine.
    D: What about vampires?
    A: Nope, you skulk around for that well enough.
    D: Then what?!
    A: I’m waiting for me, dummy. Now shush; let people read the story!

  2. The back ground info made it so loveable.

  3. I am always a little sad when true love must remain in the heart rather than open and shared. It does happen (sigh) and your story described it well

  4. The background story to such memorable letters is quite fascinating. Good Job!

  5. You owe me another box of tissues (with lotion) ;). I love how you use the letters to establish their relationship as well as describe that horrific war. The ending was well done and rang so true given the devastating effect of the Civil War (I know why we call it a “civil” war, but there’s irony there. Of course, my husband who grew up the southern US often ribs me by calling it “The War of Northern Aggression,” a title I have seen on a few commemorative statues in the South … But I digress). Glad you posted this and hope it has spurred you to continue the story!

    • Thank you – tissues shall be delivered forthwith! I came pretty close myself, last night! I had a teacher in the 6th grade who lived and breathed the civil war. I, on the other hand, had no interest beyond Gone with the Wind. But I have developed a sort of fondness for the era since and am looking forward to the research the book would require!

      • I studied quite a bit about the Civil War when I was writing a graduate paper on Rebecca Harding Davis. One neat way to research the war is to read stories and essays being written during that time. I know there’s many contemporary authors who have written extensively, but there’s nothing like reading writers who actually lived through that time. 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on 1WriteWay and commented:

    A love story from The Civil War.

  7. Ooh, is it getting hot in here? I think the story stands on its own perfectly fine without any gimmicks. Sometimes love is love–no ghosts, no vampires–just love. I may be wrong though, I write about zombies!

    • Thank you, Jack. I was hoping that it stood well on its own!

      I’m undecided on the ghostly aspect – it may only be a background piece to the third story as they weave together.

      D and I only had that convo because he accused me in a prior post of being too attached to a certain vampire tv show because he was rather “lurky” in part 1 of the book!!

      And zombies are awesome. Just all by themselves! 🙂

  8. […] this Monday’s installment of “Three Ghosts” with the a repost of a story I wrote for The Community Storyboard a few years ago, which is a) based on the ghosts I grew up with, and b) the basis for a far-off […]

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