Part One 1917 April – June
Kingsley household April 10th 7:00 AM
Will was sitting at the dining table with Lucy when the message came. Mr. Kingsley directed the messenger to Lucy, because she was expecting a message. After a few lines Lucy’s eyes widened and she began to tell the whole Kingsley household the contents.
“It’s not a message from my friend, it’s an announcement of war! The United States are declaring war against Germany!” Mrs. Kingsley sat up and turned to Mr. Kingsley.
“Will there be a draft?” She asked in a worried voice. Lucy read farther in silence.
“No.” Mr. Kingsley frowned and Lucy continued. “President Wilson doesn’t want to do a draft until absolutely necessary. Volunteers are encouraged.” Everyone turned to Will. Mr. Kingsley wouldn’t go, he was to old and had an injured hip, but would William?
Longtreader household April 10th 7:00 AM
“Alice.” Alice turned over her spoon in the bowl of oatmeal. Her mother held out a paper. “Alice, something important has happened. The United States are declaring war against Germany.” At once attentive, Alice sat up and spooned another scoop of oatmeal into her mouth. Blech. She secretly spat it out onto her napkin and resolved not to take another bite until Dorothy brought in sugar.
“Will Father be drafted?” Mother shook her head and looked at the paper again.
“They won’t do drafts unless needed, Wilson doesn’t want to. It says that Volunteers are needed though.” Alice shook her head. “Your father won’t volunteer though, they probably won’t take him. He’s too old.” Alice’s father was forty-five, and after the Boxer Rebellion in China her father hadn’t been able to walk correctly. Her thoughts flew on to her friend Lucy’s house. Mr. Kingsley wouldn’t go, he had fallen off a cart and dislocated his hip, and was older than her father. She gasped at the next thought. William could go!
“Excuse me Mother, I’ll grab some food when I get back.” She jumped up without waiting for a response and fled to the front door, as she was already dressed in her long green skirt and white blouse. She waited patiently at the front door, Robert finally opened the door for her and she was out. The gate was already open and she looked twice before dashing across the road to the Kingsley’s.
“It’s Alice!” Alice banged on the door repeatedly until she remembered what Mother thought of that and lowered her hands. The Kingsley’s newest maid came to the door and let her in, then lead her into the front parlor where the Kingsleys were gathered. Alice saw them all there and lost what she was going to say. Luckily for her, Lucy jumped up immediately and dragged her into the room.
“Alice, what a pleasant surprise!” Mrs. Kingsley smiled and then continued to talk in low tones to William and Mr. Kingsley. Lucy dragged Alice over to a loveseat and sank into the cushions. Alice found her voice again, and whispered to Lucy urgently.
“Is William going to volunteer?” She hissed. Lucy shrugged and whispered back.
“We don’t know. That’s what they are talking about. I don’t think so, because Father wants William here.” Alice nodded and then they both tried to hear what the older Kingsley’s were saying, but Lucy’s younger brother Matthew and sister Jane were much too loud. Eventually Alice gave up and she and Lucy went to site on the porch. They met Dorothy on the porch, who demanded that Alice come back because Alice’s mother was worried.
“Sorry, Lucy. I’ll come back when I get a chance.” Lucy nodded and waved them off.
“Don’t you ever do that again, girl! You’re mother is simply exasperated with you! First the news, then this!” Alice allowed Dorothy to rant for a bit, she knew she was mad because Mother made her come outside to get Alice. Finally she replied with a meek
“Yes Ma’am. Won’t happen again.” Dorothy sighed and led Alice into the kitchen where she handed her a warmed-up bowl of oatmeal and a teaspoon with sugar.
Longtreader household April 21st 4:00 PM
Alice sat on her bed and watched as Dorothy packed a bag for her. Alice had wanted to do it, but Dorothy didn’t trust her and Mother was busy.
“Really, Dorothy, I can do it.” She sighed and pointed to the pink night wear that Dorothy held up.
“You’ll forget something and wake me up at midnight like you did last time if I let you pack it!” Dorothy held up two different skirts and Alice pointed to the green one that she had worn over a week ago when they got the news that they were going to war against Germany. She was still worried that they would draft men, Wilson didn’t want to, but she knew that if the army wasn’t big enough he would have to.
“I packed your toiletry supplies already. Anything else?” Alice shook her head and picked up the basket.
“I’m good.” She glided down the stairs and deposited the basket beside the door. “I’ll go say good-bye to Mother now.” She nodded to Dorothy and hurried back upstairs a little less gracefully.
“Mother!” She knocked sharply, but gently, and stepped back.
“Come in.” Alice opened the door and stepped in. Her mother sat at her desk, writing a letter. Alice assumed it was to Father, because he was gone on business. The room was dimly lit, with a single lamp burning at the desk. Alice lightly crossed the floor and knelt in front of her mother.
“Good-night Mother.” Her mother looked at her for a minute and then pulled her up into the seat beside her. She hugged her tightly and then released her.
“Good-night, Alice.” Alice and slipped out of the room. She ran lightly down the stairs and into the hall again.
“Thanks, Robert.” Alice nodded to Robert and picked up her basket again, moving through the door that Robert had opened. She waited at the gate for his old bones to catch up. When he finally made it over, he opened the gate and watched until she was safely inside the Kingsley’s house.
Kingsley household May 21st 4:00 PM
Will stared at Lucy. A sleepover? In wartime?
“Come on, we girls have to have our fun sometimes!” Lucy tossed her head and Will rolled his eyes.
“Alice isn’t a little girl anymore, she’s practically a grown woman! She could be married!” He stopped at this and frowned. “Why she isn’t is another matter.” Just then Alice herself stepped through the front door and caught Will’s last comment.
“I’m not married because I haven’t had the chance to show my affections for the only boy I’m interested in.” Alice grinned at Will and dragged Lucy off to Lucy’s bedroom. Will gave an exasperated sigh and marched off to his own room. After getting ready for the night, Will crawled into his bed and was just pulling the covers over his head, when he heard the girls quite clearly. Lucy’s bedroom happend to share a wall with Will’s room, and Will’s bed was on that wall. Lucy’s voice broke through the wall loudly.
“Ha ha! But seriously, do you like anyone? You commented that you ‘haven’t had the chance to show your affections for the only boy you’re interested in.’” Will sat up and pushed his ear against the wall curiously.
“I guess there is one boy.” There was movement and a giggled laughter. Lucy’s laughter. Thought Will.
“Who?” Silence, and Will strained to hear the next words.
“Don’t be mad, but…. Will.” More muffled laughter and what sounded like someone strangling the other.
“Will? Of all the boys?” Lucy. Will pulled the covers up around his shoulders and pushed against the wall.
“Yeah.” Alice said more, but it was muffled and Will had stopped listening. Me?
Kingsley household June 21st 1:00 PM
Will walked out to receive the telegram. His family was sitting in the front parlor, waiting. They were all nervous that Will would be chosen to go. He was in perfect condition physically, and had no one relying on him for support.
“What does it say, Will?” He looked up. Lucy stood in the doorway.
“I haven’t opened it yet.” His gaze flit to the paper and he opened it nervously. The first words he read made him hand it over to Lucy mutely and run into the house. His first stop was the parlor.
“Mother? Father? I’ve… it’s happened.” His second stop was his room. He wanted to immediately write his goodbyes to those that he knew. Of course, not his family. He would do that in person. He picked up his pen. Alice first. He pulled out paper, and stared down at it. He knew what he wanted to write, but was he brave enough to write it? And was it fair to Alice, when he was going to leave at any moment? He put down the pen and resolved to write Alice’s later. After he had finished all the letters except Alice’s he picked up the paper again. I might as well get it over with. He wrote the words carefully, sounding them out.
“Alice, I love you.” He sighed and shook his head. Alice would not be receiving a letter from him.
Longtreader household June 21st 1:10 PM
Alice went over to Lucy’s as soon as she called. She ran after Lucy, and entered the house short of breath. She asked after she had caught that elusive breath.
“Lucy! What’s wrong?” Lucy shook her head and showed her a piece of paper. Alice read the words, then read them again.
“Will has to leave whenever he is called for?”
“Yes. But not right away.” Alice’s world slowed down. Will was leaving? Just when she had finally realized that it wasn’t bad that she liked him? Now? Well, not right now. She reasoned to herself. Then she turned her attention to Lucy.
“Oh Lucy! I’m so sorry!” Lucy shook her head. Alice drew back and then noticed the tears on Lucy’s eyelashes.
“No, Alice. I’m sorry for you.” Alice sighed.
“We are both sad. Him leaving… it affects both of us.” Lucy nodded, and the girls burst into tears.
Kingsley household June 22nd 8:00 AM
Lucy was trying to find an extra pair of socks for Will in his drawer, because her Mother insisted that he not be without socks, when she stumbled upon a small piece of paper. She picked it up. She now saw that it was slightly wrinkled and seemed to have been hiding in the corner of the drawer. She spread it out on top of his dresser and read the words out loud.
“Alice, I love you.” The paper seemed to have been torn from some other paper, and Lucy let out a small gasp. He must have been to nervous to show it to Alice, especially since he was now to be leaving. Lucy ran down the stairs and, throwing the socks to Will without a word, fled outside. She was quick to cross the road, and run up to Alice’s room. She breathlessly handed the paper to Alice, who read it and turned a brilliant shade of crimson, then turned white and sat down hardly on a nearby chair.
“Oh!” The first word that came out of Alice’s mouth did not surprise Lucy, she would probably do the same in such a situation. Just then Lucy saw Will come out of the front door of her house and look around.
“I have to go.” Lucy fled the room
Longtreader household June 22nd 8:19 AM
Alice sat at the window without really seeing anything. She glanced at the paper in her hand again. “Alice, I love you.” Her eyes darted across the street towards the Kingsley house. A tall figure stepped out of the door, holding a suitcase and a bag. Alice leaned forward as more people stepped outside. Her breath caught in her throat as she recognized the figure. Will! He was leaving for the war! She jumped up from the window seat and nearly flew down the stairs, passing a surprised Dorothy bringing tea to her mother.
“Alice!” But Alice was already gone from sight and Dorothy shrugged. Alice pushed open the large doors, not even stopping to wait for Robert to do it for her. She raced down the path and stopped at the iron gate. She grasped the bars that twirled around her fingers like flowers. Will gave one last hug to his mother and turned to walk away, Alice tried to shout, but her voice didn’t work. Finally one sound came out.
“Will!” He turned at the sound. Robert finally opened the gate for her and she flew out onto the road. She stopped, suddenly nervous.
“Alice.” He knew she had seen the note, because she had rushed out in a fright from his house earlier. She lowered her eyes. “Alice,” he paused and took a deep breath.
“William, you are leaving, aren’t you?” Will seemed to find it easier to talk about the war, and he nodded.
“I was drafted to go to Washington immediately. They said I was to be shipped out.” Alice drew in a breath sharply.
“Please come back, Will.” He smiled slightly.
“If I can.” She nodded and then smiled.
“Cross your heart promise?”
“Cross my heart, I promise.” She looked up at him, her eyes slightly blurred because of the tears forming. He smiled gently and then she couldn’t hold back any longer. She rushed at him and hugged him tightly, not caring that his whole family was watching. He squeezed back and she allowed herself to lean on him for a moment before pulling away.
“Write to me, please?” Her smile disappeared at the thought of him possibly never coming back.
“Always. I have to go now, Alice, or I’ll miss my train.” She nodded.
“I’ll write to you as soon as you have an address. Mail me one.” He nodded in return and her slight smile crept away.
“I’ll miss you.” He smiled.
“I’ll miss you too.” Then he strode away, disappearing as he rounded the hill. Alice sagged slightly, and then slipped back inside her home. She wound her fingers around the iron bars, and went up to her room where she stared down the road for a long, long time.
Part Two 1917 June – 1918 October
War Across the Ocean
Dear Alice, June 25th
I’m In Washington and mailing this now. I probably won’t be able to receive letters for a while, but mail the address on the envelope and I’ll get it. After the 30th I’ll be gone from this address though. It’s awfully busy here, people everywhere.
Dear Will, June 27rd
Happy Birthday! You are 23 now. Good luck in Washington. I hope you get a good commander for your army. We all miss you and send you love. We are praying all the time that you safely come home. Mother needs me now, Father is going on another trip.
Dear Alice, July 10th
I learned that I am to serve under Major General Jack. How is everyone back home? I will be in France by the next week. You can mail the letters to the soldier barracks that I am in now, and include a plea to forward them. Major doesn’t want us to get too homesick and agreed to let our wives, sisters, brothers, and sweethearts send letters to our old barracks. He’s a nice man, but can be pretty stern.
Dear Will, July 23rd
I’m so glad that you know where you are and I can still send you letters. The Major sounds like a good man to lead you into war. Everyone is good here, Father went on another business trip and your father and mother are terribly sad at your leaving. Lucy is getting along well, but just got the news that her boyfriend is going to war too, and is terribly sad. Maybe you’ll see him? If you do please send news, Lucy is desperate because he isn’t allowed to get letters where he is. I miss you, and hope that France goes well. Please please come back alive.
Dear Alice, August 1st
Glad to hear that the family is good, except Lucy. I’m sorry to say that I am in France now and our section of soldiers are separated from the rest, so I won’t be seeing her boyfriend. All is well here, and so far we haven’t seen much action. Some of the soldiers have been in the war from the start, and speak of terrible happenings to foreign soldiers. It has been pretty dull here, as we are mostly marching around and confusing the enemy… and ourselves. I hope you are holding up the fort back at home!
Dear Will, August 28th
I am holding up the fort as well as I can here. Uncle Stan got drafted today, and because he has experience has already been shipped off also. Please tell us if you have any information about him. Lucy’s boyfriend mailed her a letter, and she managed to write back. They broke up. Mother said it was such a shame that they would have to ‘do business from across the sea.’ I told her I thought it worked just fine, because I’m trying it too! She was shocked, to say the least. I pray everyday that you and Uncle Stan come home safely.
Dear Alice, August 30th
I heard about Stan. His group got sidetracked and went off-course. I pray that your Uncle survived their adventure. Things are still pretty slow here. They say that we will have a battle soon, but everything keeps getting put off. I met a man named John who wanted to be a pastor, before he was drafted. He has a wife and two children back home. We are still stationed in France, but the Major hopes to move on soon. How is Lucy? I imagine that the breakup affected her. I would have loved to see your mother’s face.
Dear Will, September 6th
I do dearly hope that you, Stan, and your friend John survive this dreadful war. Back here the women are starting to work at some of the men’s jobs, and wear shorter skirts. Mother and Mrs. Kingsley say it’s a embarrassment, but it’s actually just practical because of fabric shortage. I am glad you are seeing little action, even though it may cause the army to be restless, it does protect you. I am still praying you will survive. I miss you dreadfully and everyday I wake up and remember that you are gone- it’s like living a nightmare.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, September 10th
I got your last letter and I’m afraid I tend to side with our mothers on this one, short skirts ARE an embarrassment, but they also must be very nice to work with, and do save fabric. I see both sides. I think there may be a real battle soon, my first time in action. We have moved into Spain for a short while. I dearly hope the longer I’m gone the better living in a nightmare will seem, or at the very least the easier it will get.
Dear Will, September 19th
Have fun in Spain! I hope that news of a possible battle will fall through as false, because then I’m afraid you’d have to go into action and that would be terrible. All is well here at home. Father got back months ago, I forgot to mention it, and recently he and your father went on a trip to Washington DC to get involved there. Lucy, Jane and I have begun to sew for the army. Bandages mostly, but we have gone to the local meetings every week now for a month or so. Please pray that Stan survives, we have news that he might go farther towards Germany. We all pray together every night for you.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, September 22cd
I won’t be able to send and receive letters for ten days after this, you can mail your letters after that. We are going into hiding because the Major wishes to avoid confrontation with German soldiers marching through. Although none of our men are cowards- none would flee from battle- the Major refuses to battle if not necessary. I am glad for the bandages you sew back home, I now think of you every time I see one. Not that I’ve ever needed one. I also received news of Stan’s regiment moving. I will pray hard. Thank you for praying.
Dear Will, October 6th
I am thankful for your wise Major, for our neighbor’s son recently got killed because his Major ran into a group of traveling Germans. I miss you, I miss you, I miss you, from the bottom of my heart. I long to see you, to hear your voice and to hold your hand. This letter is sounding sappy, but I don’t have enough paper left to throw this away. Your whole family is doing wonderfully, and yesterday Father and Mr. Kingsley got back from Washington. All is well there, but I can’t say too much in case this letter gets intercepted.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, October 24th
Tell your neighbors that I heard of their son and am terribly sorry. I’m terribly sorry this letter is so late, but we moved about a lot and our letter carrier had to catch up. Hopefully this letter will find you and the family well and without sickness. There has been an outbreak of sickness here, luckily I avoided it so far. However, John caught it, but only a mild case and he is fine. We have good doctors to take care of the sick, and Major insists on clean habits so that our army does not fall from sickness alone. We are standing strong and are now in Italy. We had to sneak through German controlled territory on the way here, but luckily survived because the Germans were preoccupied. I miss you too, and the letter isn’t sappy, it’s perfect.
Dear Will, October 30th
I’m glad you are safe and sound in Italy, although who knows where you are now. It’s getting harder and harder to send letters, even though I only want to more and more. I am so glad that you haven’t gotten sick yet, and am also glad that John survived. Does he bunk with you? Everyone is well here, no sickness to be found. Lucy got a small job helping an older lady whose caretaker, her son, got drafted. I am deeply hoping that your Major continues to keep you out of dreadful battles, although I know it is a war and soon you have to fight. I’m still praying every night, although it has gotten too busy to hold nightly meetings.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, November 5th
Yes, John is my bunkmate. He sleeps on the bed above mine. We are on the move and approaching the enemy, I am sorry to say that we may soon have to truly battle. Major sees no way out of it, and he usually can see a way out of anything. I am glad for your prayers. Wish Lucy luck at her job.
Dear Will, November 15th
All is well here. Lucy’s job is going about wonderfully, and she leaves every day at nine. She says that the old lady is trying to hook Lucy up with young men she knows, it’s really quite hilarious, as Lucy refuses every time. I hope that this letter finds you well, Uncle Stan wrote and said that the Germans were advancing. I pray everyday, I love you tons. Miss you and hope you are safe.
Lots of Love,
Dear Will, November 21st
Please tell me you are alive and well! Please, write back as soon as you can! We were told that there is a battle and many of the regiments are involved. Please, write back! I miss you! We are praying furiously.
Lots of worried Love,
Dear Alice, December 5th
I am fine. I survived the battle and got your letter halfway through. It only ended yesterday. I can not speak of the terrors I witnessed during the battle. It was mayhem and I’m struggling to realize that it really happened. I miss you. I am glad that I survived, and saw your Uncle Stan. However, I have not seen him since and wish to know if he lived. Thank you for your prayers.
Dear Will, December 10th
Uncle Stan is dead. He was missing in action, and they found his what they believe to be him. They couldn’t identify him for sure, but recently they found a letter from Aunt Marie in his coat pocket. I can’t believe I will never see him again! I only had two uncles to begin with, because Father was a single child and Mother had one brother one sister. I am only glad that you survived. I’m afraid I must be the one to inform you that your cousin Tom also perished in battle. They were informed yesterday. I am so glad that you survived. I love you and miss you as much as ever.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, December 15th
I am so sorry about your Uncle. I witnessed so much horror at the battle I can barely stand to know that your uncle suffered at the hands of the Germans. They were ruthless, I can barely stand to pen their name. Cambrai France is in ruin, and even though we won (My regiment fought with the British.) I’m afraid I can’t sleep at night, for I keep reliving the horrors of battle. Major said that was normal for first time men, and nearly the whole camp is affected by it.
Dear Will, December 24th
I am deeply sorrowed to hear that you have had so much trouble with the battle. I pray that you will come home through some lucky happening. I know that it is too much to hope, but yet I can not help but hope anyway. I love you, I miss you and I can’t stand another year like this year. I hope and pray that 1918 is very different. It is almost Christmas, yet we still fight. Please come back safe and sound. Christmas is so very hard, knowing that our brothers, fathers, and sons are gone from home any may never come back, they may be doomed like Uncle Stan. May God Bless you with a merry Christmas, as merry a Christmas can be when you’re at war.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, December 30th
Merry late Christmas. I included some ribbon I found at a local shop. Perhaps you can tie your hair up for me? I find that the pain of seeing the battle lessens just as the pain in my cut hand lessens. It brings great relief for me to know that all is well back home, and while I may have been away from the people I love most, I still had as Merry a Christmas as I could have had. Wish the rest of the family a Merry late Christmas as well. God bless.
Dear Will, January 3rd
Thank you for the ribbon. I wove it through my braid for New Years Eve. Happy New Year! I hope that this year is better than the last. I am glad to hear that your pain is diminishing as the days go by. I do dearly hope and pray that you do not have to witness another battle and that this terrible war is over soon- for it is terrible. God will lead us through it, whether it be victory or surrendering. I’ve come to be more certain each day that God let this war happen and God will stop it and change it for good when the time comes. I do dearly wish that you could be here though, and wonder what my birthday will be like without you. That is, unless you get home within a month. I miss you.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, January 13th
I believe what you say is true, God Almighty will lead us through this terrible time of war. I do hope your birthday goes well, even I I’m not there to celebrate with you. I am sorry to say that we won’t be able to send letters for a while because the Major commands that we go into hiding again. I’m deeply sorry. You can correspond again in March 25th- or if we get into battle and you want to know how I am. Or, if I’m alive.
Dear Alice, February 14th
Major said I could send this because it’s a holiday AND your birthday. Happy Birthday, my dearest Alice! I included some more ribbon, more of it this time, and I included a heart carved out of wood with a silk ribbon attached. Ribbon is easy to find here. Most of the local women are willing to sell us some for our sweethearts, sisters, daughters, wives, and mothers back home. Happy 23rd Birthday! Wish I was there!
Dear Will, April 8th
Please reply and tell me you are safe! Thank you for your many birthday wishes. But pleaseall I want is to know that you survived. Write as soon as you can. Thank you for the necklace, I wear the heart every day. I am constantly praying that you survive this dreadful happening.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, April 12th
I regret to pen these words. My friend and comrade John has passed this world from deadly injuries inflicted by enemy bombs in the middle of war. I am fine. Please write to tell me of news from home. Ar you all well? I wish for something to take my mind off the empty bunk above my head, and the hole in my heart. Nearly half of our regiment was decimated by bomb, I was among the lucky few. Major has survived and lies in the hospital now. I am fine. God’s hand has protected me through battle. Many of the more experienced say that it gets better with every battle, many say it gets worse. I believe it does neither, the awful sight of men killing men will always remain the same to me. I am so sorry to bear these bad tidings, but unfortunately it is said that my regiment performed so well we will be in this through the end- or till death. Please pray for God to protect the Major and our regiment through this next stage of war.
Dear Will, May 4th
Oh how I pray! Please come out alive! We are all fine and well here, Lucy is doing wonders with the old lady and your younger siblings are fine. I am deeply grieved to hear of your friend and bunkmate, John. The only thing that brings me joy is that he is now with the Lord he wished to serve while still on this earth. We should pray for his wife and two children. I am terribly worried for your safety, but I do try and not think about it. It is impossible to not think about you through, everything I see reminds me of the man who is across the ocean.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, May 13th
The Major commands us to go into hiding again. I am not allowed to write or receive letters unless some great catastrophe befalls us, and then I am only allowed to write two and receive two. I can not write until September. This is the last letter you shall see for a while. I am deeply saddened to say that, because these letters are what bring me joy.
Dear Will, June 15th
I am penning this letter because It has been ages since I have heard from you or of your regiment. I consider this last battle to be a catastrophe and hope the Major thinks the same. I pray for you every day and we are all doing fine. Lucy is still caring for the old Lady, Mother went with Father to Washington and so I stayed at your house with Lucy for the week. Please write and tell me you are okay! At the very least alive! From my count, your regiment has been involved in two battles since we last talked. It seems as if they are only increasing and I dread to see the telegram boy.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, June 25th
I am fine, and it has been three battles. I’m afraid they have been affecting me and I now find a new sort of horror to take to battle with me. Every battle only adds to the intensity of my dreams, every battle changes my perspective a little more. It is only thoughts of you and of home that keep me from going completely mad. I am starting to think that the Major is, as much as it pains me, that he is going mad as well. Only, I believe it is much worse in his case. We still have the letter ban, although Major allowed me this letter.
Dear Alice, August 9th
I am writing to tell you that although I have been involved in two more battles, I am fine. I am also writing to say that the Major is being replaced. It is as I feared. He is mad. Or, insane. They are taking him to a special hospital and assigning us a General Thomson. While I am glad to see the insane Major go, at the same time it is sad. It is a reminder of what could happen to me, and sad because he used to be so strong and trained us, a bunch of newbies, in the art of war.
Dear Will, August 12th
I am glad to hear that you are no longer serving under a mad Major. Are you still allowed to send letters? Please tell me you are! Your letter found us all well and fine at home. Jane had caught a cold, but survived it just fine. I pray everyday that you will not suffer the same fate as the Major. I also pray that you will come home. I am still sewing the bandages and have struck up a friendship with a few other seamstresses. Not much is happening here.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, August 20th
The General came and he is a very nice man. We are allowed to write as many letters as we need to. (And receive) General Thomson insists that we call him Thomson, but it is a hard adjustment after Major who grew very strict towards the end. I am glad that you made a few new friends. Right now they have high hopes of winning the war, but then again, they had high hopes a month ago and it fell through.
Dear Will, August 30th
I am glad that you like Thomson and that he is kind. I am also very glad that he lets us write. How are your…. Memories? Of battle? You speak so much of them and then make no mention of them. If you do not wish to speak of them ever again I will understand. Everyone is doing just dandy over here. Well, things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, Lucy has had some more heartbreak, she hasn’t admitted to what it is yet, and stores have increasingly less products. There is still plenty to get by though.
Lots of Love,
Dear Alice, September 6th
Ah my memories. They were getting better, but then we were involved for a short time in a battle that is still happening. Our regiment was only involved for two days before Thomson pulled us out because he saw the effect it had on us. Lately we have been having more of a border patrol type routine, because after that bombing where half the regiment died we all went a little insane. Luckily for us, Thomson is experienced in that. We are all recuperating nicely, but expect to end up fighting soon. Thomson is teaching us to block our minds to the screams of pain and from the nightmares that haunt us. Tell Lucy I am praying for her. Thank you for the news.
Dear Will, September 12th
I am glad to hear that Thomson is helping with the nightmare things. All is still the same here, except that your brother got a slight injury while climbing the roof to fix a shingle. Luckily he fell on the hay that Father had brought over for your father. I am still praying for you. Lucy is glad for your prayers and wants you to know she is praying for you too.
Lots of Love,
Dear Will, September 30th
I haven’t heard from you in ages. Are you okay? Please, send a letter if you are! Your brother has healed wonderfully, and Lucy is fine again. Mother’s friends all organized a meeting and they all mended ripped uniforms from the army. They did it while my group did the bandages, it was interesting to see the two different groups mingling.
Lots of Love,
Part Three 1918 October
Longtreader household October 12th 7:00 AM
Alice was sitting at the table, looking at Will’s last letter. September 6th. It had been one whole month now, and all she had gotten was a formal letter from General Thomas stating that Will could mail letters after October 10th, no sooner. It had been a few days since then. She was getting worried.
Alice’s eyes widened as she saw the telegram man leaving the Kingsley’s house. Will! Maybe he was dead! She leapt from her seat at the kitchen table and dashed down the hall. She slipped through the iron gate that Robert left open for the mailman and dashed across the road.
“Mrs. Kingsley!” She went through the still open door and stopped in the entry. Mrs. Kingsley had just received the telegram and was staring at it.
“A telegram!” The household erupted and everyone, even the hired folks, came rushing to the entry. The small room was filled immediately, as Mr. Kingsley’s brother and family was visiting. Everyone held their breath as Mr. Kingsley removed the telegram from his wife’s shaking hand and opened it up. Although he kept a calm face, he was shaking too. He read it silently first, then out loud.
“To: Mr. and Mrs. Kingsley. Message: We regret to inform you that William Kingsley has been shot and-” Mr. Kingsley choked up and everyone assembled held their breath. “Shot and survived. He is in the hospital right now, but at soon as he is well enough to travel he will immediately be sent home to fully recover. Sincerely, General Thomson” Everyone sat for a full minute, processing what the telegram said.
“My son- he’s coming home!” Mrs. Kingsley’s glad cry broke us of our silence and everyone began to talk at once. Lucy wormed her way through the crowd to Alice and grasped her hand.
“William is coming home!” She grasped me even tighter and twirled me around. A grin spread across Alice’s face.
“William is coming home.” Alice repeated, and they dived into the preparations.
For the next few days all was mayhem. Mr. Kingsley’s brother’s children all wanted to see ‘cousin Will’ and as they ranged from ages two to eight they were mostly an annoyance, although the eight-year old twins Ronald and Regina were helpful. Mrs. Kingsley had taken to thinking that Will was going to be starved, and kept coming up with different foods for the cook to make. Mr. Kingsley had decided that the house must be in spectacular shaper, and worked on the house with his brother every day. Meanwhile, Lucy and Alice prepared everything else with Mr. Kingsley’s brother’s wife and Jane, Lucy’s thirteen year old sister.
“Alice! We need to get Will’s room cleaned out, and the dining room needs to be cleaned.” Jane stood in the parlour entryway and called for Alice. Alice jumped up.
“Okay, Jane. Mother, I need to go help the Kingsleys clean their house out for Will.” Mother nodded her consent and Alice walked out with Jane. Lucy and Alice were tasked with Will’s room, Mrs. Kristina Kingsley and Jane with the dining room. As soon as Alice entered Will’s room, she knew it was going to be a hard task.
“Let’s take out all these boxes that we were storing in here and have Mickel put them in the attic.” Lucy called for her brother while Alice started to drag the boxes out. The boxes were all quickly disposed of and the girls moved to their next task. The room had been unused for nearly a year and a half, so it was a huge dusting project. After five solid hours of working, they finished up and headed into Lucy’s room to change, as Will was coming that evening. Dorothy had helped Alice bring her dress over the evening before, so it was already in Lucy’s closet. Alice’s dress was just over ankle length and a dark red. It fell in soft waves down to her feet and the top was fitted with long sleeves and white lace edging. Lucy braided Alice’s hair in an intricate braid that allowed her brown curls to fall delicately.
“Absolutely astounding.” Lucy grinned and pulled out her own dress, a blue gown of the same style but with a white blouse. Alice did her hair loose with a simple chain holding it back, her blond hair was curled in simple ringlets. The blue of the gown matched a blue stone on a gold chain we fastened around her neck, and brought out her vivid blue eyes. When they finished they stood in front of the mirror, looking for all the world like completely different people. Alice’s eyes betrayed the nervousness, Lucy’s eyes held only joy. Finally the time came, Regina came into the room, bouncing on the balls of her feet.
“Lucy, Alice, Will is here!” She rushed downstairs after the important announcement, Alice and Lucy were quick to follow.
Kingsley household October 15th 5:30 PM
Will stepped through the door and was greeted by at least thirty people. Mother must have invited the whole block! They all saw him at once, and proceeded to shout.
“Welcome home, William!” He smiled, but winced whan his little cousin Regina squeezed him tightly.
“Gently, dear. William has been hurt.” Aunt Kristina swept Regina away, making room for his mother.
“My dear, dear son! William, you’re home!” He smiled back and hugged her quickly, scanning the room for the one person he didn’t see. Lucy stepped through the doorway, her hair all done up. She was stunningly pretty, and William was reminded that Lucy would soon find someone she loved, if she hadn’t already, and leave the Kingsley house. He looked around distractedly as he made his way towards Lucy, Alice still had not arrived.
“Good to see you, Lucy.” He hugged her gently, careful not to crush her dress or curls. She smiled up at him teasingly.
“Alice is still coming.” He blinked at her, and she winked. He looked up at the doorway, searching for Alice’s brown curls. He moved towards the hall, but people pulled him back into the center. Every chance he got he turned to the hall’s door, searching for Alice. Finally, after what felt like years, Alice appeared in the doorway. Her eyes were down at her feet, she hands clasped together.
“Alice!” Will called her name and she looked up, searching the crowd. She found him, standing tall in his uniform. He held her gaze for two full minutes before she glanced down again. He quickly wove his way through the crowd to the back.
“Welcome home, Will.”
“Welcome home? That’s all I get? No hug?” Will reached out to grasp her fingers, unknotting them. She glanced up. He couldn’t resist and pulled her in for a hug.
“In front of all these people?” She asked, still resisting.
“Sure,” He murmured into her hair “Why not? Am I wrinkling your dress?” She shook her head and leaned into him for a few minutes.
“I’m good.” He smiled.
“They probably all know we were writing letters to each other anyway.” She looked up and hesitantly smiled.
“Yeah.” Someone turned on music and everyone hurried to the dining hall. Will managed to snag a seat next to Alice, and the dinner passed quickly. After the dinner everyone sat in the parlor and living areas and talked. Alice and Will sat on the same loveseat that Lucy and Alice had sat on when the war was announced. Alice was getting tired, at that time it was nearly nine o’clock. She sleepily leaned into Will. He didn’t protest, just smiled down at her.
“Will.” She sat up and looked at him carefully.
“Do you think they would mind if we took a walk? I’m awfully hot in this uniform.” He nervously pulled at the collar and Alice giggled.
“I don’t think they’d mind… much.” She smirked. “You are the guest of honor.” They slipped out the side door and around to the backyard, telling only Lucy where they would be. Alice sat down on a stone bench, she had to admit it was cooler outside. Will seemed much relieved and sat down across from her on the bench.
“Alice?” Alice turned to look at Will. He was looking over the garden, not facing her.
“Will?” He hesitated, took a breath and turned to her.
“Will you let me court you?” Her eyes widened and she gasped. A smile crept over her face, but he had turned away at her gasp. “I’m sorry, Alice, I….” He stopped, eyes wide, because she had laid her hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t apologize, Will. I would be glad if you courted me, and I you. Did you ask Father?” Will nodded.
“Of course.” He took her hand. “Ready to go back? They will be missing us.” Alice hesitated, and smiled softly.
“Yes, Will. She leaned into his side for a minute, and then, hand in hand, they walked through the door.
Alice smoothed her dress and stared at the mirror.
“It’ll be fine, mine was!” Lucy tweaked Alice’s hair a little more and added another pin. Alice sighed and picked up a pink banquet.
“You are not me.” Lucy smoothed her blue bridesmaid gown and shrugged.
“Yeah, but I’m helping with your wedding anyway, so….” Alice laughed and peered at the mirror again. She adjusted the white satin skirt and slightly kneeled while Lucy and Alice’s mother placed the veil on her head.
“Father would love this.” The room was silent for a minute, as Alice and her mother thought of her father. Lucy quietly put away the hair supplies and then broke the silence.
“He would. But you know what? I bet he’s watching from heaven anyway.” She smiled at Alice in the mirror and then helped her daughter with her hair.
“You are going to make a wonderful flower girl, Mary.” Alice bent down to Lucy’s daughter and smiled at her. Mary smiled back, and held up the basket of flower petals.
“Pretty!” Alice smiled and turned to Lucy.
“Are you sure you are going to be okay?” Lucy nodded, and glanced down at her stomach for a minute.
“Yeah. I’ve done it before. And anyway, I’m not that pregnant- yet.” Alice smiled, and looked at her gathered friends and family.
“Ready?” Everyone nodded and the music started. Alice gulped and took her Grandfather’s arm. He would stand in for her father today. A smile crept across her face as she watched Mary, Lucy, and everyone walk down the aisle. It was her turn next. She walked slowly, when she was halfway there she lifted her head high and met Will’s eyes. He was wearing his war uniform, World War, they called it. He looked proud to be there, his eyes held the same joy she knew was reflected in her own eyes. He smiled when he saw her, and she knew this would be one of the best decisions she would ever make.
Note: This story is completely fictional. Any reference to real life people is not on purpose. Please do not use this story as a World War 1 reference. William’s Major and General never really existed (although the Major’s name was taken from a read ww1 Major.)