Dylan enlisted for two years. He and Sue would be married as soon as he was discharged.
|Sue walked swiftly to the mailboxes standing in front of the Four Oaks’ farm, certain a letter from Dylan would be there. He wrote to her every day for the two years he was based overseas. Growing up in a place where you could spend your free time running through the corn fields until your lungs burned. Collapsing on the grass looking up at billowy clouds forming shapes of animals, one then another. Life was good. She had Dylan, her best forever life partner. From the day Dylan ran to her aid after falling hard to the ground playing kickball, to slow dancing for the first time leading to his proposal the night of graduation they knew they were meant for each other.
Sue opened the oversized mailbox. His familiar hand-scribbled envelope felt warm in her hands. She felt his presence as she walked back to the barnyard, hoisting herself on a hay bale.
“I am so ready to get out,” he wrote. “Almost two years and I am counting the minutes until I am discharged. I got a letter from Mr. Stevens. He and Edith are retiring. They will move to the West Coast to be near Vic and his family. Their farm is for sale! Isn’t that great? All our dreams are coming true!”
Her ultimate dream was to settle down together, farming like generations before them. She was pining for a kitchen of her own. Her Mama was a heck of a cook who taught her the way around a kitchen. And kids. She wanted a baby, a boy who looked like her Detail Dylan. She giggled at his Army nickname. It was obvious, from the first inspections in basic, that he took meticulous care of every detail of his life.
Sue hurried to her second-floor bedroom pulling her scented stationery from her desk drawer. She responded to the possibility they could buy her neighbor’s farm. She set the finished letter on her dresser, tidied up, and made her bed. The positive vibes carried in his letter inspired her. The anticipation of his official discharge was nerve-wracking.
The week before Thanksgiving she put the large box addressed to Dylan on her dresser. It was his monthly goody box. Cookies, new socks, and at least a pound of chocolate should get him by until he was out. Tucked in between the candy and the socks was a pair of her used pantyhose. She took it to the mailbox. He would receive it the day before Turkey Day. On a chilly weekend day, she ran to the mailbox to get Dylan’s letter. There was no envelope addressed in his chicken scratch. Instead, there was one with tiny handwriting and an unfamiliar return name and address.
“…and Dylan has lived with me for eight months. He will get out soon and make a home here. I thought you should know.”
Sue dropped the letter, heart in her throat. She could not see through her tears as she raced back to her house, upstairs, and took her notebook from her backpack.
I am writing to tell you I have met someone else. I hope you have a happy life. Mine looks outstanding.
“Take that, filthy cheater!” she screamed at his framed picture.
Epilogue: Sue nurtured her broken heart for four months when she met and married Fred. She would forever regret writing the letter.