Chapter 1 - Hellogoodbye Isn't Just a Band
Dear Jayne, January 2nd, 2031
I remember you saying before I left that I should write to you if I had time. I found the little slip of paper you scribbled your address on and so here I am writing to you. You know that I’ve never been one to write things, especially notes, but it gets pretty lonely out here on the battlefield. I’ll try anything just to feel like I have a little company.
It hasn’t been that long since we said goodbye, but out here everything feels like it’s longer. It takes longer to fall asleep, longer to feel at peace, longer to count the minutes in an hour. An hour here is a day there.
Gosh, I miss you guys so much. You know that? I miss you and Momma and Bobby and Sarah and Tracy and Greg. What I would give to be there with you all now… I feel like I’ve done a lot of growing up. I fought it every step of the way- you know me, I’ve always had Peter Pan syndrome. I figured one day, though, that I’d be doing enough fighting. I shouldn’t try to control things that I can’t control. I just hope I don’t turn into someone that I can’t look at in the mirror. I’ve been there enough times to know that the most important thing is to be the person you need to be, not the person everyone else wants you to be.
Here, there are two kinds of people I could be. I could be what my side wants me to be- alive; or I could be what my enemies want me to be-dead. I feel in between the two.
I tried writing this letter so that I would feel happier and better about being here, but all I can think about is this terrible war. I’m sorry if I am dismal or worrying you. I don’t mean to. I really hope this letter reaches you. I need someone to help me remember what I left behind. I need something to fight for, to live for. I hope you can be that person. You’re my best friend, Jayne.
I wish this were a postcard with a picture of the beach on the front, and I was writing to you to tell you all about the sand in the Bahamas. I wish you could flip it over and read Wishing You Were Here! But this isn’t a postcard. This is a letter from your friend in the war. This only ends in Wishing I Was There…
Dear Charlie, February 23rd, 2031
I’m sorry it took me so long to write back. I did indeed get your letter. Well, obviously- otherwise I wouldn’t be writing you. Anyhow, your letter found me in good health, but put me in low spirits. Charlie, I miss you, too. It’s been as long here in Tennessee as it has been overseas. I promise you that much.
I’d tell you not to be so down, but sometimes you need to be down. Sometimes you need to feel what it means to lack joy so that you can find it. So, I’ll tell you to find joy in everything. Every time there is a funny looking cloud (I’m sure there are clouds there), just remember that time we laid in the grass all afternoon and ate popcorn while watching the sky transform before our eyes. I remember lying on a blanket next to you picking out clouds and arguing over what shape they were. We imagined a whole circus full of animals and acrobats dancing across the sky. The sun was warm and the grass was soft and the one of the most important things in my life was lying right beside me.
Maybe there are rainy days there, too. In that case, remember the time we were driving my car home from the bowling alley and it started pouring down rain. It was the ugliest, oldest, most beat-up car I have ever seen, but it ran, so we drove it. That night it decided that it wasn’t going to run. We were a quarter of a mile away from my house and the car was puttering and spitting and hissing like nothing I had ever heard before. I freaked out and drove it up onto the grass and you laughed so hard. Then you told me that since my house was close enough, we should get out and try to push it home. I thought you were absolutely crazy, but for some reason I trusted you. So we got out of the car in the pouring rain, I stuck the car in neutral, and we rolled it down the street. We laughed the entire time, getting soaking wet. Some days I still feel wet from that night.
Try taking something every-day and turning it into a memory you have of us here. Then you will always be home. Pretend the blasts are really fireworks on the fourth of July. The tank you drive is really a space shuttle that will drive you to the moon and back. The tent you sleep in most nights is like the blanket forts we used to make.
That’s the best advice I can give you, Charlie- I’ve never been to war. Maybe using your imagination seems childish, but Peter Pan and I always had something in common. Or maybe, instead of thinking of childish things, you can use some other method of thinking away everything that is discouraging you, and in turn, depressing me after reading your letter.
Chin up, Charlie. You’ll be home soon enough and you’ll come back to this run-down place and the diner and the ugly yellow house. You’ll miss the battlefields instead. Until then, know this run-down place is missing you.
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