Letters of War

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Elizabeth O'Neil is the wife of a Soldier of the First World War. Through all the horrors and tear stained letters, will Elizabeth ever see her husband again?

Submitted: November 03, 2011

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Submitted: November 03, 2011



The distant smell of gunpowder and dust filled the air as Elizabeth carefully caressed the letters.

The letters that she held were all from her husband, Thomas O’Neil, who was sent to war a few years ago against the German, Italian and Austria-Hungarian troops. The whole of Britain, France and Russia had taken action against them for reasons that Elizabeth did not know of but understood the seriousness of them.

As Elizabeth scanned her eye over the tattered letters her breath seemed to be short as if the air around her had suddenly been cut off. Only a few words struck out to her from the letters like 'Death', 'Pain', 'Disease', 'Lack of Food', 'Loss of Hope'. These words always stabbed her heart painfully as she read them. However, though the letter may be full of severe or painful notes Thomas O’Neil always ended the letter with a humorous note like, ‘Darling, if you thought the rats in our home are big you should see the size of them here! They would put young children to shame.’

The positive note at the end of each letter she received always soothed Elizabeth’s worries for a few moments before reality hits her hard again.

The first months of war had been a nightmare for Elizabeth. Her husband had told her that it would only be a couple of weeks be a couple of weeks until they were together again. To her anger she believed him as soon those weeks turned to months and those months turned to years. All that kept Elizabeth’s sanity was the letters from her husband.

Light patters of rain hit the window next to Elizabeth. She looked out of the window, still holding the letters to her chest, and sighed at the scenery which she loved.

The O’Neil home was situated in the countryside just outside of London. In fact, the only thing that really separated their home from the busy streets of London were the many trees scattered over the large hill blooming with poppies. The scenery was ever so beautiful on a sunny afternoon when the sun is at its highest peak and shadows the trees. To Elizabeth, she imagined the only thing that could be more lovelier than this site would be the Garden of Eden, though she even doubted that.

The only thing ugly about Elizabeth’s happy place was the dark clouds that formed near the left of the sky from the London factories.

Elizabeth grimaced as she remembered those horrible factories. After the first few letters she had received from her husband she discovered to her surprise that women were helping out in the war as nurses. She researched more into this and found out that there were other options for women to offer for the war. Wanting to help the war, Elizabeth began working in a factory.

As Elizabeth could not bear a child, to which she found out after having several painful miscarriages, she could offer a lot more time in the factory than most women with children could. However, Elizabeth regretted the decision to even take the job.

The hours were long and consisted of hard manual labour in which the women learned to and make bombs which were sent to the British army. The women had to be careful not to set off anything in case of any unpleasant accidents. Over the few weeks that Elizabeth worked there, to her horror she discovered that the longer you worked there the chemicals within the air took effect. Due to the chemicals a lot of the women’s skin turned yellow, they were disfigured and their faces a bright. Those women became known as ‘cariaries’. Elizabeth’s own skin had turned a somewhat repulsive yellow before she left the job. Sadly, the side effects were permanent.

Running her hands up and down her arms Elizabeth stood up and looked at her reflection on the mirror above the wooden mantelpiece.

Fear struck her as she imagined what her husband would think if he were to see her. The patches of sullen yellow on her cheeks and forehead stuck out from her pale face. Elizabeth always mourned over her lost beauty. Not for her own benefit, but her husband’s. He had always made sweet comments about her beauty. Thomas always called Elizabeth ‘beautiful’. What would he call her now that she was not beautiful?

Elizabeth closed her eyes. She found it interesting that she thought of her husband as if he were alive. ‘How foolish of me,’ she thought to herself. She admitted to herself that she had the right to think that. There had no knock on her door with a soldier telling her that her husband was dead.

So when the knock on the door came, she had been expecting the worse. Opening her eyes slowly, she turned her head, looking at the outline of a male shadow from her door. Mentally preparing herself for what was to come next, she walked to the door trying to gain whatever composure she had lost over the years.

Taking a deep breath in a final attempt to calm herself down, Elizabeth finally opened the door.

“May I help you-” Elizabeth froze.

There, standing in front of her was the rugged, battle worn face of her husband whose face broke into a bright smile when he saw the face of his wife that still remained beautiful to him despite what the chemicals had done to her features.

“My sweet angel, I’m home.”

In a fit of relief and joy, Elizabeth flung her arms around him and kissed him with all she had as tears of pure happiness ran down her cheeks as he kissed her back.

The war was finally over.


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