Thursday, December 1, 2011


My Dearest Emily,

I write this letter hoping to find you in a better frame of mind than when last I saw you, to tell you that I am now thoroughly certain I have wronged you.  There has been fighting during every one of the last four days, and I fear tomorrow will be the fifth.  I have twice been caught in a warm place of the field, and this very morning when I write you a ball nicked the top of my knee, hardly hurting me.  Still it has brought me a clarity I did not have that afternoon when last we spoke together, when I treated you awfully and said words I regret.

It must be that I have been wrong these many years, both in the lack of respect I have had for my father, and in the way I have treated many of my friends and family of our town.  I had taken upon myself a belief of how the world was that led me into the situation where now I find myself, and it has come to no good.  These past seven months have shown me the world at its worst and at its best, but I tell you Emily that I want to see no more of the world than what I've seen.  I am ready to put the world from my eyes and come home.

Emily, I write now to say that I love you.  I would that I had told you so that day when you asked.  If I could have that day again I would say the words, and take it upon myself to provide for you and your kin, whatever the cost, without the distraction of the world.  This I say to you, my love.  I am ready, if you will still have me.  To my mind home is all that I wish for, and there could be no home for me if you Emily were not there in it.

I have written my father and now he has at last this last week returned a letter to me.  All is forgiven in his eyes and he has offered me the high land along Daedalus Creek should I return.  There is a place there you will remember where oaks grow, that once we walked through.  I propose to build a house upon that place, with a porch that would look out over the valley, and rooms for your mother and your brother should you wish.  I can tell you true Emily that this war has broken me once and for all to the plow.  I think there is no greater pleasure I could have than honest labor.  I think there is no better work I would do than to bring life from this earth, having seen so much death be put into it.

If you can, soften your heart Emily.  I beg please that you will answer this letter.  There is movement now coming through the camp and I shall have to stop now and ready for the march ahead.  I will put this letter into the best hands I can find, and pray tomorrow and every day after that it will find you well and in good spirits, and that it will reassure you at last that I am not the man who left you so poorly these many months ago.

Yours faithfully, Edmund Hoskins.

1 comment:

  1. I love short pieces like this that evoke an entire "before" and "after" that's only implied in the actual words. I'm reminded of Harlan Ellison's rebuke of the cliche that "a picture is worth 1000 words:"

    You woke in the night, last night, and the fiery, bony hand was inscribing mystic passes in the darkness of your bedroom. It carved out words in the air, flaming words, messages that required answers. One picture is worth a thousand words, the hand wrote. "Not in this life," you said to the dark and the fire. "Give me one picture that shows how I felt when they gassed my dog. I'll take less than a thousand words and make you weep for the last Neanderthal crouched at the cliff's edge at the moment he realized his kind were gone . . . show me your one picture. Commend to me the one picture that captures what it was like for me in the moment she said it was all over between us. Not in this life, Bonehand." So here we are, once again in the dark, with nothing between us in this hour that stretches but the words. Sweet words and harsh words and words that tumble over themselves to get born. We leave the pictures for the canvas of your mind. Seems only fair.

    Ellison actually had already done one of those things: a micro-short piece called "Ahbhu" about the death of his dog, inserted into the novella "The Deathbird." (The first time I read it, yes, I did cry.)