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Seven Letters

Bleeding Heart

By Mary HaynesPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Seven Letters
Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

Gene wore his heart on his sleeve, almost literally. When he was eighteen, he had the outline of a heart tattooed on his upper left arm. It was the same day he asked Melanie to marry him.

Mel ran her fingers lightly over the fresh tattoo. “Why didn't you put my name inside the heart?" she asked.

Gene stroked her hair and lifted her chin to look in her eyes. “Because it doesn't need to be there, it's permanently tattooed inside my beating heart."

Their relationship was the stuff country songs were made of. Small town sweethearts, he the captain of the football team and she was on the cheer squad, of course. Despite their age, everyone in town adored them together and was thrilled when they announced their engagement.

The call came shortly after, just as the cherry blossoms started raining from the trees. The petals fell all around them and soon covered the sidewalk where they strolled. He broke the news to her there. He had been called to active duty; he'd be going overseas.

By Diego González on Unsplash

Their letters were frequent and full of the romantic words of young lovers and endless doodles from Mel. In the intense heat of the desert, ink smudged the papers under his sweaty fingers and midnight tears. Although the front lines were intense, Gene faithfully found time each day to write. He stuffed the pages into envelopes and piled them for the weekly postman. When he received hers, he read each one eagerly, savoring every word repeatedly. When he replied, he found a new way each time to express how much he loved her.

Gene was concerned when the tone of her letters changed. Her writing was less flowery and focused more on what was happening in their hometown. She wrote about the movies she and her friends saw, and the music in the town square. Slowly, the frequencies of the letters diminished from seven to four, then two, before they stopped altogether. The postman had previously joked about the volumes of dead trees going back and forth, but now he just made small talk and took the seven letters from Gene.

Gene continued with his letters and was excited to share the news with Mel that he had been granted a thirty-day leave. He told her he could hardly wait to see her pretty face and sweep her up in his arms. He hinted that perhaps they could be married before he went back over. Still there was no reply from Melanie.

By Ire Photocreative on Unsplash

The postman handed him an envelope a few days before his flight home. It had none of the usual hearts or flowers doodled on the outside. Inside was a letter from Mel. She explained that she had met someone else. He was the new bank manager in town. He made her laugh like no one else ever had. She said she was very sorry; she had not intended to fall in love, but the heart wants what it wants! She added that she felt he should know before he came home.

Gene arrived home to the typical small-town fanfare. Flags were waving, and flowers were presented to him, along with a ceremonial key from the mayor. He searched the crowd of cheering neighbors and crying relatives. Melanie was not there.

After the ceremony he hugged his parents and loaded his bags into their truck. He told them he'd be home later but that there was something he needed to do. He walked to the edge of the shopping district and opened the door to a shop painted with colorful graffiti.

The tattoo artist greeted him with a burly hug. He listened to Gene's request and then started his art. As requested, inside Gene’s heart tattoo, the artist drew a knife that pierced the heart and added three bright red teardrops that fell from the M-shaped wound.

By Bri Tucker on Unsplash


About the Creator

Mary Haynes

Mary Haynes splits her time between a romantic old sailboat in tropical waters and a beach home in Ontario. A wanderer, by fate, she embraces wherever she roams! Mary recently completed her first children’s book, “Who Ate My Peppers?”

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  • Charlene Ann Mildred Barroga2 months ago

    A story so well described that is heartbreaking, full of unexpected turns and unfiltered feelings!

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