Mandy didn't know when to expect the first letter, but it sure wasn't when she got it.
The day had been okay, as far as birthdays go. If wasn't the best birthday she'd had, but it definitely was not the worst. She'd had a small party with only two friends, Morgan and Henry, though she wasn't sure if she could really count Morgan as a friend. She only invited her because she was Henry's sister and he asked her to.
She'd do just about anything for Henry.
It was after the party that she'd gotten the letter. On the way back up to her house after walking Henry and Morgan back to their car, she had a sudden urge to check her mail box.
In all honesty, Mandy had almost forgotten the conversation she'd had with the young soldier, but it hit he like a wall in that one moment.
In a daze, she quickly handed the mail off to her younger brother, the letter tucked under her arm. On the way to her room, she kept trying to figure out what the strange feeling was that she had and why she had it, but she had no idea.
Once in her room, she sat on her bed and stared at the letter for a full five minutes. She noticed that there was no return address, only the name of an Army camp in California. Taking a deep breath, Mandy opened the letter.
I'm sorry that this letter took a while to write, and even longer to arrive. I wasn't sure exactly what to write, but everyone told me that I needed to send a letter before we headed off to Vietnam, to let my "loved ones" know that I'm alright.
I laugh at the words "loved ones." Who are you loved ones, anyways? I certainly don't have any. My parents are dead, and my only living family member hates me. I never had any friends growing up, had no siblings, no cousins.
Basically, my life was horrible.
I'm sorry for that Mandy. I don't want to bring you down. I really appreciate you allowing me to send letters to you. I promise to send you another soon.
Alone in the world,
Mandy's heart ached for him. To never experience siblings, family reunions, anything? She couldn't imagine. She herself was very close to her family, all 108 member of it, soon to be 110.
The sudden thought made her gasp. Her aunt!
She quickly folded the letter, slid it under her pillow, grabbed her keys, and headed out the door, yelling at her mom that she was going to Aunt Cindy's house.
Her aunt lived a few streets over. After her husband's sudden and unfortunate death in Vietnam just two months earlier, Aunt Cindy had lived in her own, pregnant with twins.
Mandy had somehow taken charge of her favorite aunt and her family: watching Hunter and Sierra while aunt Cindy ran errands, cleaning the house so she could get some rest, and periodically checking in on her and how the pregnancy was going.
Mandy pulled into the driveway, humming along to the radio. She was in a good mood after reading the letter, and looked forward to giving her little cousins hugs and kisses.
When she stepped into the house, it was strangely quiet. Mandy shrugged, figuring that the kids were probably in bed, Aunt Cindy in her room on the computer more than likely.
So she headed down the hall and to the left, quietly opening the door so as not to disturb her aunt.
"Aunt Cindy." she called quietly.
She heard a moan from the ground.