Home > Letters from the Heart, series > Letters from the Heart

Letters from the Heart

Alexandra steps out into the clear, sunny morning. She lifts her face to the morning sun, closing her eyes and enjoying its warmth. The small section of ankle between the cuff of her blue jeans and her white sneakers feels the chill in the air. Two squeaky steps across the front stoop, two steps down to the sidewalk and 14 steps to the red mailbox – the mailbox they had painted together on their first anniversary, only six months ago. It was into the newly painted mailbox that the postman slipped only a single postcard. The postcard was plain, almost to the point of being mysterious. On the front was printed his name and the address. The reverse held a simple message:

FEDERAL MILITARY SELECTION NOTICE

MICHAEL LYNNE,
You have been selected to serve your country.
You will be phoned at home, this evening, at 1800 hours.

CONGRATULATIONS!

The phone call occurred just as the notice announced. Early, the next morning, a black sedan pulled up to the red mailbox. He got in and after mouthing “I Love You” to her, standing on the front stoop, left.

It has been six months since he left; six months with no word, not even a postcard.

Alexandra reaches out and opens the mailbox. It protests slightly, creaking as the door swings down. She scoops out the letters and gently closes the box before returning to the house. As she walks, she flips through the five pieces of mail: the phone bill, two pre-approved credit card applications, an appointment reminder card from her doctor, and then the world stops.

The light brown envelope is a military standard, but the handwriting scrawled across its surface is anything but. She holds the envelope gently, as if it were a priceless artifact. She sits on the stoop and opens the envelope, her heart seeming to pause in anticipation. She glances over the paper, releasing the breath she, unconsciously, was holding as she spies his signature and the phrase, “Only a heartbeat away.” With a sigh of relief, she turns the letter back over and begins reading.

Dearest Alex,

I figure that by the time you read this it will be our anniversary. Happy 17 months, dear heart. I can only imagine the panic you must have been feeling. I have, only now, been cleared to write to you and let you know that I am safe and have completed initiation. I am part of a new team – the 25th Special Forces Group – the “Cyclones.” You’d like our insignia. The patch is a field of blue topped with a ribbon of pale green. Within the ribbon, black letters spell, AIRBORNE. On the blue field is the picture of a dark grey tornado.
After leaving you that day, I was taken to a barracks where I met the other 50 or so members of my battalion. From what I heard discussed, there was, at least, one other barracks like this one, maybe two. We were given extensive physical and written examinations on a wide variety of subjects. Over the next week, the tests got more and more demanding, physically and mentally. Each day, they drove us until people dropped and then the tests would begin. Ten people washed out within the first week. After the first week, we were split up into squads and if anything the training got harder. I am so thankful that you drove me to get into running and our debates really helped me prepare for this initiation. By the end of the first month, I only saw my squad on a daily basis, but rumors from others hinted that more people had washed out.

I must have done well on the tests, because I was taken out of the squad and began advanced specialized training. This new intense training left me so weak during the first week or two, it felt as if I was having to relearn how to walk, run, and generally move. It felt like my arms and legs were made of lead. After the second week, however, things improved greatly. The training was really paying off; I could run further with less exhaustion, and while carrying heavier gear.

I hope that the weather is nice there. Here it seems to rain more than anything else. The sky is deeply blue, when I get the chance to see it, but the sun does nothing to rid me of the chill. It is so cold here that I lose the feeling in my arms and legs almost as soon as I step out the door. I can picture your hair catching the sun in a golden halo, as you sit and read the letter.

For the past month, we have been doing mock missions. I cannot go into the details, but the level of realism that goes into the training is very impressive. It is nothing like the “basic” training you see in the movies or read about in books. If they did not tell me beforehand and issue me training clips, I would easily believe that we have been doing actual missions for the past month.

Don’t worry about me. I am eating fine. Another thing the movies got very wrong was the food; We eat great. Don’t worry, I am watching what I eat and not overdoing it. After running 20 miles with full gear and then having an uphill assault exercise, I don’t feel awful about helping myself to seconds. I do, however, miss cooking with you and eating by candle-light just because we want to. Pet the mutt for me.

I just got back from the Major’s office. Due to my exemplary performance during our missions and excellence during the training, I have been promoted to Second Lieutenant and given the role of squad leader. This is a real boost for my ego. I was feeling very run down yesterday while I wrote and I was missing you terribly. I am very proud of myself as I hope you are too. With my status as an officer, I will be getting a higher rate as well as more responsibility.

Oops, gotta run. The Captain’s calling us to assembly. I’ll mail this tomorrow.

I love you and I’m only a heartbeat away.
Michael

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