My Dear Abigail,

I hope this letter reaches you in good spirits. How is life on the manor? Well I hope. Everything is as expected at this end. War, she is an unforgiving mistress, she shall reap what we have sown. I fight for the freedom of this nation, I fight to strike the chains from the oppressed, I fight to unite brother and brother under one roof. For a house divided cannot stand. Men would rather be starving and free than fed and in chains. So I write this letter to you with a conviction, to unite this nation as a free one. To bring my brother out of the darkness and into the light. But most importantly my love, I fight to once again be reunited with you.

I remember how you would call me your mighty oak as you ran your fingers through my beard, my beloved, this war has shaken me to my roots. Your oak feels like a sapling when facing the horrors of the battlefield, a willow, twisting in a hurricane. Man slaughtering his brother like a savage. It threatens to drive a man mad.

My saving grace, my sweet Abigail, is the thought of you. As I head into the bowels of the Unknown each day, my bandolier fastened like a life vest against the tides, my anchor is you. As I trudge through bayou and swamp, forge through creek and river, my map is you. You are my North Star guiding me home. Each step I take deeper into enemy territory alive is another step closer to you. I find myself time and time again, singing to myself, the song you would sing to me “rest easy weary sailor, the seas might rage and foam; just search for the light of my lighthouse, and let me bring you home. Rest easy weary soldier, this war has been your test; just search for the light of my cabin, and let me give you rest”. You sang it to me the night I found out I was enlisted. Fearing for my life, tears in my eyes and my head in your lap, you sang me to sleep that night and every night after till I left for my tour of duty. I am not ashamed to say I cry at night, dry heaving at the thought that the next day might be my last. That I might never gaze upon you again. It nearly drives me mad, my love. I remember how we first met, you were the belle of the governors ball and I, emboldened by a glass of sherry and the goading of my friends walked up to you with my chin held high and demanded a dance. You said no obviously, i would not accept it despite the chortling of your brothers and the giggles of your friends. you eventually relented and while we glided across the dance floor your face pressed against my chest, you called me an “oak tree” for not bowing in the face of pressure. Tears stream down my face as I write this. What would you think of me? Your oak, barrel chested and hairy as a bear, covering his paper in more tears than ink.

I shan’t let the men see me. They need all the courage they can get and it certainly will do them no good to see their captain shaking like he’s seen the gates of hell. They are used to seeing “the oak” as unshakable, even against overwhelming odds. Not a man who can’t bear the smell of the juniper balm they wrap the deceased in as it reminds him of his wife’s polishing oils. Not the man who yells your name as he charges into battle mowing down man and child alike. Your name reinvigorates my tired bones. Your necklace beating against my chest with each step that I take, like my personal war drums, urging me onwards. And I onwards I run, towards you.

On the rising of the sun, I will be leading a charge on an enemy encampment 50 miles due west from here. Our spies tell us it is heavily manned and will likely end up with severe casualties on both sides. This matters not to me, for the good book says “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” the Lord knows best .  I will rise in the morning and lead my men, fighting like each enemy soldier has a knife to your neck. I will sing the song you sang to me, seeing your light leading me home. And whilst I may fall this morning, I beg of you, do not weep for me. Tell my mother I loved her like only a son can. I must go now, the bugle is sounding as the first light of dawn paints the sky in its warm hues. Remember me as I was, my Abigail. Your oak. I will return to you. Your light will lead me home and we will be reunited once again.

In this world or the next,

Love,

Your Oak

Jebediah

 

My sweet Jebediah,

“rest easy weary sailor, the seas might rage and foam; just search for the light of my lighthouse, and let me bring you home. Rest easy weary soldier, this war has been your test; just search for the light of my cabin, and let me give you rest”. As I ran back from the post office to open this letter, I had our song in my heart.

Your letter finds me in good health. My love, the ceilings of this house close in on me a little more everyday. They threaten to smother me in my sleep. I wake up at night in a cold sweat, my heart fluttering and your name on my lips. These letters are my only form of escape. When I read them, I imagine you scrawling them down, your brows furrowed like waves on an alabaster sea. Your bottom lip between the gap in your teeth as your try your hardest not to blotch ink. And then I clutch your letter to my chest and cry until I can breathe no more. I have cursed , raged and at my lowest, mourned you. This war has taken my husband away from me, she is indeed a cruel mistress.

I gaze out the window every night, and sing our song to myself whispering a silent prayer for you. That God returns you to me. I hear rumours in town of how a ceasefire might be called within the next four months and a flame is renewed in my soul. It burns long and bright, reminding me of the night we eloped. We danced that night, to no music but the beating of our hearts. My heart is beats like the wings of a hummingbird as I remember that night. Two souls became one, now they are ripped apart again, you have taken a piece of me my love.

I lost my father to a war, my husband duels with death in the trenches and I have gotten word that my brother will set off soon for the reserves. I fear I might be cursed. Why must every man I love leave me? Why must war snatch them away from me?

In the battlefield, you will fight for three things, fight for your nation, you must fight for your men, fight for your family. Yes, my Oak. It has been 8 months since you set off, and I am heavy with child. On my loneliest of days, I place a hand one hand on my belly, the other on your side of the bed and I will myself to stay strong for one more day. I fight my own war with the feelings raging inside of me and bite back tear. I feel him kicking as I write this, he must know I’m thinking about his father. The doctor says he is going to be a fighter like his father. Please return to me my love, I need you, he needs you for it will take a fighter to raise a fighter.

Yours, now and forevermore,

The wind in your leaves,

The light guiding you home,

Your Abigail.

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9 thoughts on “The Oak

  1. I am shocked there’s no comment here yet. The beauty of language in this piece is wonderful, walahi. I will just keep thinking of the name Jedidiah.
    I hope the oak lives to birth many more little oakies. 🙂
    Well done, Osaretin. Good luck too.
    Cheers!

  2. This is simply beautiful… There isn’t much else to be said… Heart warming and inspiring too… Me likey

  3. Well written but this is not a story. You set up a romantic situation in danger and never resolve it or let it go anywhere. There’s no sense of place or character (where is the war? When is it? What kind of people are the lovers?) it’s well written but it gives the reader no reason to care about the characters

  4. I really liked this. This was the first story that moved me to comment. The language was era specific, and reminded me of historical romance. I just wish you’d actually grounded it, set it properly in an era. That would have given it an authenticity, would have given your characters a stage on which their love could be acted, a backstory that would give their anguish heft.

    You get my vote for that gorgeous language.

  5. I totally agree with James and Ed, it is well written, language is pristine, enjoyable.

    It however feels like you took a very easy way out. A letter. I smiled while reading it and totally forgot about the characters at the end of it because there was no story to connect them to. This left no mark on me whatsoever. It scores top points for language and scores nothing for almost everything else.

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