"Hey, Rose, whatcha writing?"
Roseali Danszer jumped, making her pen screw up what she was writing. She looked up into the face of Max Young, her best friend. Her stomach immediately gave a queasy jump at his dazzling smile.
"Max," she exclaimed, "don't scare me! Jesus."
"Oh, calm down, Miss High-Strung," he said, grinning and sitting down opposite her at the picnic table. They were in a tiny park mushed between two buildings across from their high school. Max knew that this was Rose's favourite spot to hang out.
"Shut up, Max," she said playfully, bending over her notebook again.
"So," he said, stretching his legs out under the picnic table and kicking Rose in the shins, "what's up, Rose? How's the fight going?" He grinned easily as she glared at him through her long chocolate-coloured hair.
"Fine," she said, writing furiously on her notebook, "until you got here." Max laughed, making Rose's heart jump in her chest. Her lips quirked up in a half-smile and she brushed her hair behind her ear.
The two talked for a while. Rose invited Max over to her house later, to which he declined, claiming he was seeing his girlfriend that night. Rose walked home alone after they said goodbye. She clutched her notebook to her chest, feeling her heart beat through the paper. When she crossed the threshold into the spacious apartment she shared with her younger sister and brother and her parents, she heard her mother's high-pitched voice trill at her from the kitchen.
"Roseali!" she said in her annoying sing-song voice. "A letter came for you." Rose tried to high-tail it from the entryway and into her room before Mrs. Danszer's clicking footsteps reached her, but she was too slow-moving to one-up her mother. "It's from a soldier," Mrs. Danszer continued, looking at the plain white envelope curiously. When she looked up, Rose saw that look of disappointment and slight revulsion she usually saw in her mother's eyes. Today, Rose wore a heavy scarf around her neck with a knitted cardigan and loose-fitting jeans. She dressed this way mostly because Mrs. Danszer expected her to wear the kind of things she herself wore -- tight, stuffy dresses, elegant, clean-cut hair, and, of course, French manicures.
"Can I see?" Rose asked, reaching for the letter. Mrs. Danszer clicked forwards in her bright red high heels and held the letter out to her eldest daughter in her shiny nails. Rose took it and ripped it open, slinging her messenger bag over her shoulder and heading for her room. There, she fell backwards onto her bed and pulled the letter from its envelope, wondering why the hell a soldier would be writing to her.
After she finished the letter, she made a noise of disgust in the back of her throat and tossed the letter aside. She walked over to her record player and gingerly placed Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on it. The heavy guitar of the first song filled her room. Bobbing her head along with the music, she bent to pick her notebook up from the floor, flipping to where she'd left off in the park.
On the page that had been accidentally scribbled on by pen, she'd written the words "I love you" in the prettiest cursive she could manage. Humming along to the music, she smiled softly and hugged the notebook to her chest.
My name is Adam Wagner. I come from Washington, D.C.. I received your letter earlier and, obviously, I'm writing you a reply.
I'd like to enlighten you on this war. Most of us soldiers didn't choose to be here. There's this pesky little thing called the draft that you apparently don't know about. You don't know how much I would give to go back home to my wife and kids in my "cutesy little suburban house".
I hope this enlightens you.