|MaryBelle sat at the old wooden desk in her bedroom. It was her favorite place these days.
Centered against the back of the desk, just below the window, was Cal's picture. Picking it up, she lightly traced the outline of his square jaw with one finger, as she gazed into his big brown eyes. There wasn't a man in the world as handsome as Cal, especially when dressed in his Marine blues. MaryBelle brought the framed image to her lips and kissed Sergeant Calvin Lewis Hanes before she placed the picture next to her writing paper.
Taking a tissue from the box, she dabbed her nose, then tucked the tissue under the cuff of her sweater. With pen in hand, she gazed out the window, composing her thoughts.
She could see the old twisted elm that she and Cal used to climb as kids. The main branch curving low, beckoned to her. Near the barn, was the beginning of the worn path they used to walk, holding hands, and laughing, on their way to the creek. They would sit near the bank talking for hours while the tiny creek burbled past them. MaryBelle gently touched her lips, recalling their first kiss, shared within the mossy enclosure of an oak's broad roots.
The leaves were gone and the grass was brown on this March day, but soon they'd be spring green, just like the day Cal left.
She removed the tissue and gently blew her nose. Tossing the tissue into the rattan basket, she took another and put it under her cuff.
March 6, 1945
It's been another busy day in Bailey's Corners.
Jed Simmon's mare, Jezebel, foaled last night. It was touch and go for a while. The poor thing was coming out backwards, like he decided he was going back to bed since it was still dark. But Doc Ives performed another miracle. I wasn't there, but I heard that Doc just kept talking to the little thing, while he moved the foal best he could. All the time reminding him how his mama had done her job, now it was his turn.
Jed named him Satan for all the pain he gave his mama.
I saw him this morning, Cal. He has a white blaze on his forehead, like a bolt of lightning, and his coat is a shiny sorrel. He was running in that wobbling kind of way, on knobby toothpick legs, before he chanced a tiny leap. When he didn't fall, he threw his head back, whinnied, and ran with more leaps around his mama. I could almost hear you laughing with us.
Everyone is talking about LucyMae again. They are all saying that she has a beau. Can you believe it? Not more than four months since Joe Bob was fixing the privy, fell headfirst, and drowned. Everyone is still talking about that. Seems I'm not alone in thinking that LucyMae probably had something to do with his death. Sheriff Tokens keeps saying until we prove something, he can't do a thing. But now with this new beau, seems very suspicious. Old Mr. Tucker said if the beau were smart he'd put in a toilet.
The farm is doing well, sweets. SaraJane is helping me with the chickens. But I'm having a devil of a time keeping the chicks out of her bed. I now have to check her pockets whenever she comes inside.
Cal Jr. is doing real well in school. He got an 'A' on his spelling test and a 'B' on his math test yesterday. He's writing you a letter today, too. You'll be so proud of him, Cal. He looks like you. I can't help but smile when I try to smooth down his cowlick. It's just like yours, darling, stubborn.
Darling, I miss you so, and love you to pieces. We pray for you every day. Oh, and SaraJane has begun naming all the chicks 'Cal'. You're always in our thoughts.
It's time to start dinner, darling. I'll write again tomorrow.
Love forever and ever,
MaryBelle kissed the letter, folded it, and put it in an envelope. Opening the second desk drawer, she lifted the intricately folded American flag. The letter joined all the others she'd written to her husband every day for the past nine months.
Heaven knows it's been another busy day in Bailey's Corners.