“Letter From the Past” by Brittany Sohrweide

"Where is it Tom?!" Nancy screamed at the top of her lungs. "I know it's around here. Tell me where it is!"

"I really don't know what you're talking about Nancy."

Tom's eyes were tearing up but he refused to break down; he had to be the strong one. He knew it was mentally impossible for Nancy to be strong.

Nancy had been diagnosed with schizophrenia only a few years into her marriage with Tom and she thought Tom had been cheating on her with a woman named Gene.

Nancy tore up the house for the third time that week. There was a dent in the wall from her throwing the smooth mahogany antique dresser into the wall because of the suspicion of infidelity. The mirror that lay delicately on the top of the dresser broke all over the icy hard wood floor. Tom was sitting on the bed with sympathy and tears swelling up in his eyes. His once muscular and proud frame slouched on the soft, but cold, plush bed just waiting for Nancy to come over and fight him. He knew he would never fight back, so he sat motionless waiting for the storm. His soft brown hair lay in straggles on top of his head from Nancy pulling it, trying to get an answer from him. As she ripped and tore through each drawer in the house, Tom watched helplessly from the desolate bed. She suddenly slowed down and looked aimlessly into the drawer. Then she slowly and delicately picked up a loose sheet of dark oak plywood that was lying on the bottom of the drawer.

"What's this, Tom?"

She turned around; her slim body spun around with ease as her floral dress carefully wisped around in the summer air as if time, just for that short second, slowed down. Her bulging green eyes glimmered as tears hung from the bottom of each eye lid; she had been crying for sometime now. Tom looked at her as he always had, he looked at her with sympathy, with love, with care, with contempt. More than ever this time, he wished he could just help her be the person he knew she was on the inside. He wanted to take away every fight, every panic attack and every suspicion her mind told her she had. Her naturally tight curled, fiery red hair fell down the front of her glistening, freckled pale shoulders and chest. She took her hand and gently moved her thick, hot hair off her heavy breathing chest. She held an old, yellowed letter in her other hand. She calmly but firmly forced herself to ask, "There's no other woman, right? Then what is this Tom. What is it?

She pursed her slightly damp orange colored lips together. She looked at Tom in a way she never had before. She looked at him like she could finally put this to rest. Tom was sitting on the bed with his face hanging low, almost in his muscular chest. He sat there and thought how he didn't know if he could handle Nancy's tantrums and suspicions any longer. As he lifted his heavy head, his glance stopped where he saw the old letter in Nancy's hands. His eyebrows lifted high among his brown eyes.

He started to panic. He had never seen that paper in his life. He cried out to Nancy, "I've never seen that paper in the drawer before Nancy; you have to believe me."

Nancy thought she had finally found the proof she had been looking for. She carefully traced her eyes on the letter and hung unto every word. She gasped and held her thin, pale hand over her now opened soft lips. She slowly began to look at Tom sitting on the bed by himself. He still sat there quietly waiting, worrying and wondering if he could ever convince her that she had always been and always will be his one true love.

"Tom," she spoke softly so that he could barely hear her, "I need to lie down."

Tom obeyed her and very softly walked over to her, grabbed her with one arm around her hip and grabbed her hand with his. He walked her slowly to the bed and laid her down sympathetically and caringly because he knew how trying her episodes were on her body. Her frail body laid effortlessly on the comforting bed. As Tom and Nancy laid on the bed together, there was a warmth between them which they haven't felt in a long time. All she could do was look and read the letter over and over again. All Tom did was look into her eyes passionately and understanding. He wanted to say something but he couldn't. He enjoyed the silence, stillness and the closeness he was feeling towards his Nancy. He didn't want to ruin the moment he missed so much. He nervously opened his mouth and took a deep filling breath and spoke the same words he had said to her time and time again, "Nancy, look, I know you think I've had an affair, but I love you and respect you more than any person I have ever met. I haven't had an affair, and I don't plan on it."

After a long period of silence, Nancy began to open her dried lips and spoke to Tom in her broken and dried up voice, "You have to read this letter, it's nothing like anything I've ever read."

Tom brought his head up in surprise. He didn't know what to say. He wasn't expecting Nancy to say what she said. She said nothing about an affair, she said nothing about a suspicion. What she had said was completely true, not part of her fallacy. This time Tom saw Nancy. Not Nancy the overwhelmed, crazy and jealous wife. He saw the light- hearted caring, romantic Nancy who was now crying softly with a sort of smile upon her once unhappy lips. Tom wondered why and how this letter could've changed Nancy's mood so dramatically.

Tom, almost unmoving, took the letter from Nancy's clinging fingers and read:

Dear Ingrid,

I know you are waiting so solemnly for me at home. I wish we weren't separated by this war but I have an obligation to fight. I hope you remember how deep my love for you is and I hope you know a moment does not pass that I don't think of you. You are true to me, dear to me and I'll never forget that you will always love me. This I am sure of. Don't worry about me here. I known the love we share can conquer the best, the worst and the most horrible of times. And if you happen to go crazy missing me, I hope you know I will be just as crazy without you. I wish so much we could be in our house together, walking among the hard wood floors, seeing our reflection in our long life-size mirror and lying together like we were meant to be in this same moment. Instead I sleep here in this small tent and cold blanket but every night I think of us, because it's the only thing that keeps me alive. Though I wake up to the same horrible camp with all the other men, I'll remember the dreams of us of when we were happy and there wasn't a care in the world. So, darling, if I don't come back to you; I wish to die in my sleep dreaming of your beauty and wonder walking hand and hand with me upon the beach down by our beautiful house. With all the possible love in the world,

Your husband, your confidant, your love;

William Anderson

Tom looked in disbelief. He now knew what had changed Nancy. He knew that from now on things would be different. He could feel it, and he could see it on Nancy's face. Now more than ever, Tom wanted to fix things with Nancy, He wanted to get her help and this time it was different because now she wanted the help.

As the years go by when Nancy and Tom got into fights, they pulled out the yellowed but beautiful letter they had read so long ago. They would remember the reason why they love each other and how they would never feel complete without the love that they had for each other.