Letters from the War
Oh how this war lingers on. I have seen things I dare not describe, for they would make you faint and weep at the same time. Horrors so cruel and vast they stagger the imagination. Men -- boys if we are to be honest -- dying in the most vulgar of ways for the most petty of things. Here in this place hatred is glorified and killing is the only means of surviving. I can't tell you how much I long to be home.
Do you know what I miss most? It is handsome Baron. How I long to hear his paws dance across the tile floors, feel the breeze generated by his wagging tail and see his ridiculous toothy grin shining at me like a ray of hope. I also miss you and the children.
How is Baron? I expect he misses me greatly, as I miss him. Do tell me of his exploits! Such light-hearted words will surely ease the pain in my heart and abate my home sickness.
I am saddened to learn my last letter must not have reached you, as your most recent correspondence included no mention of beloved Baron. Had you received my letter you would know I requested news of Baron and stories of his exploits. I have little time to write you at present, as my battalion is preparing for a new push sure to be more bloody than the last. There's so little of Europe left intact, I'm not sure what any of us are still fighting for. I was hoping to lift my spirits with stories of dear sweet Baron. Now I fear all hope is lost.
Please do not think me dead just yet, Martha. Write me again, with words of my friend Baron. I am glad to hear you and the children are well, but you need not be so wordy about such matters in future letters.
It is through divine providence that I remain alive to write you. The last battle left so many of my brothers dead, and many more injured beyond hope of recovery. They will go home forever broken, with bombs echoing in their ears for all time.
I thank you for the anecdote about Baron eating a slice of pie off the counter, though I was angry you chose to discipline him. If my Baron wants a slice of pie, I believe him entitled to such. Is that all Baron has done in the last five months? Has he done nothing else but rise a single time to purloin a slice of pie, then return to his slumber? I asked you for details, Martha.
What words does he speak? Oh, how I long to hear his triumphant barks once more. Please ask him to speak for me, then transcribe his noises so that I might read them aloud and feel transported away from this terrible place.
Thank you for telling me how much you and the children miss me. I assumed as much, and I am delighted to learn I was not in error for doing so.
Really, Martha? Really? Baron said "woof woof"? In all my years I have never known of any dog to say such trite things. Baron used to say things like "aroOOorrroOOoo" and "ARHHHH! ARHHHH!" in that distinctive voice of his. I cannot imagine the thought of Baron suddenly reducing himself to the level of canine caricature. You didn't even ask Baron to speak, did you? You insult both me and Baron in equal measure.
I do not wish to go on scolding you. My spirit is already beaten by this terrible war. My hands have been bloodied, Martha. I was forced to kill a German with a knife, and felt his blood spill across my skin. We both wept like children as I carried out the cruel task, knowing that in any other life we might have been fast friends. I wondered if he had a friend like Baron back home. I hate to think such poisoned thoughts.
Oh how this place changes you, Martha. I fear Baron might not even recognize the man I have become. I'm sure you will, as I look the same, apart from a few more wrinkles and gray hairs. But Baron sees people on a deeper level, one we humans cannot fully understand. Will he still accept me as his master?
I look forward to coming home almost as much as I dread the prospect of Baron not recognizing me.
I will thank you kindly to please moderate yourself. In your last letter you went on at length about your new outfits and how good you look in them and forgot to include mention of Baron. Does he still whimper in my absence? I know you do, based on the unsettling and lurid nature of your words. Please, Martha, restrain yourself.
Speaking of Baron, might you include a lock of his hair in your next letter? Oh how I long to pet his soft furry head and be connected to my most committed companion once more.
Yes, Martha, little Bobby does say funny things. Children often make whimsical statements based on their naive conceptions. Thank you for bringing his latest one to my attention. I hope you corrected him, as Italian people do not actually have spaghetti for hair.
And at last, your letter does indeed find me well. I had occasion to kill three more men, but I grow used to this terrible duty and have come to accept that I will be forever haunted by my actions and the things I have seen and done here. Also I am quite certain that you are just imagining the women at the beauty parlor speaking ill of you behind your back.
What in heavens has gotten into you? I asked you to send a lock of Baron's fur, and instead you send a pair of your undergarments? I had to bury them in the night just to avoid the embarrassment of having them discovered by one of the men. I can only assume the horrible enormity of this conflict has left you completely scatter-brained and you mailing your underwear to the war was one tremendously improbable accident.
Martha, perhaps it is best you send Baron to stay with mother. She is a bit more tempered with her correspondence and her mind is sharp as a tack.
I fear I must now dedicate the sum of my mind and focus to this war, so my letters will be infrequent. I trust you will understand. I need to survive this dreadful thing, so that I might be reunited with Baron and you and the children once more.