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Deliver Us From Evil

For the Misplaced Challenge

By L.C. SchäferPublished 19 days ago Updated 19 days ago 3 min read
31
What AI spat out at me after six or seven misfires.

He wrote me in the mud and gloom, fire and death rattling all around. A picture of her taken from an inner pocket peaked from under his thumb. Gazing at it, he laboriously scratched out his heartfelt words. Poured them in love and ink across my pages.

He tried to still the trembling of his fingers, not wanting it to show in the carefully written letters. Teeth chattering, he braced himself for the sound of gunfire, trying not to flinch and blot the paper. Don't want to give her more reasons to worry. He wanted her to think him brave, and worthy of her, and her love.

He sealed me with a kiss, and tucked me into his uniform. I felt his heart beat. I knew, when it thudded harder, that he was thinking of her, and the question he'd written in me, and the answer he hoped for.

I know he prayed, sometimes.

...deliver us from evil...

But there's evil all around, and no escape from it, it seems. Young lives huffed out, their years and potential snatched away in blood and smoke and screams.

I left him, and started my journey from his heart to hers. Thick black lines blotted out some of his efforts, and then I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I never reached my destination. I never felt her graceful fingers tremble in answer to his, her lips pressed to me where his hand had so loving crafted me, line by line.

She must have thought he forgot about her. That he was just another brute who spun pretty promises, and then left in the wreck of them, never to return.

The notion would have tormented him. Just as bad: to think her disappointed by him, after all. Disinterested. Unfazed by his leaving. To imagine that absence had not made fondness for him grow, but rather left it shriveled. Like a neglected houseplant. Or maybe he thought she believed him dead. Found comfort in another man. Made a life with that lucky other. Children, probably. Happiness, maybe.

Their hearts, thinly tethered by the fluttering leaves of me, surely beat for each other for a time. Longing stored in the quiet spaces between each squishy thump. Two hearts, linked by words whispered on paper, and finally broken by shattered promises. Mended in time, but always a crack, paperthin, and filled with wondering and might-have-beens.

It isn't my doing. It's not down to me where I'm delivered or whether I'm mislaid. But if not for me and my misadventures, two lives could have unfolded very differently.

Instead, she could have written her answer back, Yes! to lift him in those freezing wet months, to give him courage against the stink of smoke and death. In his endless quest for dry feet, he'd have drawn some comfort from knowing she thought of him, loved him, waited for him.

For her part, she'd have waited with hope and dread, wishing daily for his safe return. She'd have dressed carefully for his homecoming, and put a flower in her hair. He'd have looked older, more careworn, but his face no less dear to her for all that. Their reunion would have been sweet, so tight would they have crush each other in relief and joy on the train platform. The wedding would've been quick, and they'd have been completely unashamed, in the shadow of so much death, that a life had already taken root in her belly. Because tomorrow is not promised, and none know it better than they do.

But here we are, all three of us sent careening off down different paths, different unions made, different children born.

I've no way to mark the passage of time. Do they still live? If they do, I wonder if, in one of the tomorrows not too far from now, someone will chance upon me and deliver me. I wonder what might happen if I find my way to the hands of my intended. I wonder if that crushing embrace might still happen, a whole lifetime later. Heads grey, eyes lined, and those paperthin cracks splitting open with fresh emotion.

All paper hearts can do is wait and wonder.

LoveShort StoryHistorical
31

About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Book-baby is available on Kindle Unlimited

Flexing the writing muscle

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for nudes.

Here be micros

Twitter, Insta Facey

Sometimes writes under S.E.Holz

"I've read books. Well. Chewed books."

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (27)

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  • River Joy8 days ago

    What a great entry. Absolutely beautiful. As always really well written.

  • Rene Peters8 days ago

    This is beautiful ❤️

  • Ashley Shiflett15 days ago

    This is an amazingly written piece! ❤️

  • JBaz15 days ago

    Yes, this is a definite shot of being in the top. Emotionally driven and written with love. ‘But here we are, all three of us sent careening off down different paths, different unions made, different children born.’ This line is so powerful

  • Great story and so sad. You just know that really can happen. How could it not. Thank you!😊💕

  • Sandra Matos16 days ago

    What a lovely story! I love that you used the POV of the paper. Such a fresh way to look at this! Very impressive!

  • Lauren Everdell17 days ago

    Thanks for stopping by to read mine! And since, as you said, you did a letter as well I came to return-read and now my mascara is ruined! This is so sad, and poignant. Beautiful writing, congrats.

  • This was so brilliant what an amazing idea for this challenge well done L.C.

  • Joe O’Connor18 days ago

    This was such a stirring read! Clever to place the narrative in the form of an undelivered love letter, and lines like this- “their years and potential snatched away in blood and smoke and screams.” make this all the more real. Well done!

  • That was so tender-hearted and emotional. You did wonderfully in telling a lifetime—a couple lifetimes—of stories in such a short piece. Very beautiful.

  • Heather Zieffle 18 days ago

    Lovely story, so emotional! Great take on the challenge.

  • Lamar Wiggins18 days ago

    “I left him and started my journey from his heart to hers” So much emotion packed into one sentence. Well done on this piece, L.C.

  • Phil Flannery19 days ago

    Poignant seems a fitting descriptor.

  • This reminded me of a Tamil movie I watched last year. It was about a letter from a soldier to his lover but it got lost and then after 20 years someone found it and made it a point to deliver it to her. It was a roller coaster ride. Your story was so evocative and made me so emotional. I feel letters like this should be given more priority!

  • This is absolutely one of your best. I want to learn how to write like you. What a stunning and beautiful story.

  • Incredibly sad & poignant. Yet such things do happen.

  • Caroline Craven19 days ago

    Gosh, this was absolutely brilliant. Heartbreaking. Great writing.

  • Randy Baker19 days ago

    Great job! It hit its mark with me.

  • Decided to double check the rules and see if an author's note could get my entry disqualified, and I stumbled on something in the rules that I don't think should be there... In the official competition rules, it says "your entry must be a crime fiction story". OOPS!

  • Spectacular!

  • Dana Crandell19 days ago

    Tragic, and so beautifully written. This has "winner" written all over it.

  • Hayley Matto19 days ago

    Beautiful & tragic!! Great piece, well written!

  • Rachel Robbins19 days ago

    Such a compelling piece of heart ache.

  • This is great! Eloquently written perfection! Love the letter!!!

  • Cathy holmes19 days ago

    Oh my. This is so sad, yet so beautiful. Well done.

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