A Square of White; Writing 101 Challenge – Day 5

Day 5 – You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

I am here.

The journey was finally over. It only made me sad.

Unfolding the well worn page I looked down at the note the clerk had given me. Still a few rows to go.

It was amazing how much life changes in a single action. I had been watching my husband and the antique shop owner lever my new antique writing desk into the back of our ute when the pale square had fluttered to the gutter. Neither man noticed. I did.

It was a delicate wax paper envelope. The edges of the flap were embroidered in yellow lace, perhaps once white. A tiny button was sewn under the flap to wind the thread around.

The cursive writing addressed to Mr Paul Billingham. Address Unknown.

Very carefully I unwrapped the fragile thread and, under the hot summer sun of that mid-morning, read the letter never sent. I could almost hear the tears within the words. It was dated 19th June 1941.

Please come home.

I should have left it alone. That’s what my husband told me; but I couldn’t. The cry of fading hope from the unknown ‘Helen’ echoed across the years into my heart.

Now here I was.
A pale square upon the ground. This one in stone.

Private Paul Billingham
1923 – 1941
Battle of Crete

Placing the rose upon the cold stone, I turned to face the reason I was here.
The 90 year old woman being supported by her son and grandson.
Helen Rickman nee Billingham.

Finally after 73 years she would know where her brother was.

And why he never came home.


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