My Lonely Valentine
Unable to clear his mind, he sat down with a piece of paper and a pencil and tried to gather his thoughts. A letter… yes, that might be the answer.
My dear one,
Our special day comes around again soon, and my arms remain empty, without you beside me to embrace and whisper words of love to. Does your dance card still have a number reserved for me?
~~They used to be only for me….~~
Looking out my barracks window on this miserable winter afternoon, I see nothing to lighten my mood. I see barbed wire, fences, and men with rifles but without honor. There is snow, so much snow, and bitter, biting winds, and not enough heat, not enough blankets, not enough food, and we huddle together in the early mornings outside, relishing the human contact that at least gives us some warmth inside our hearts, while our hands stiffen and bleed with the cold as we are counted time and time and time again. Man reduced to heads of cattle, nothing more, nothing less. Dehumanized and demoralized. And yet somehow we survive.
He paused and considered the men he lived with, scattered around the camp on various work details at the moment, took a sip from the cup of coffee one of the other prisoners had brought him. ~~Some of the most human, humane people I have ever known.~~
I have so much time on my hands here that I think I have become somewhat philosophical. I have spent hours staring out into space, pondering life’s mysteries, and my own insecurities, my own shortcomings, my own mortality. It would be so easy to go absolutely mad in this place. Man is not meant to be behind barbed wire, and living in fear that any day could be his last if the will of some madman decrees it. He is—we are—I am meant to be at home, sitting before a warm, roaring fire on a winter night, comforted by the love of family and friends. In spite of myself, I sometimes fear I shall never have that experience again. And when that anxiety overwhelms me, I try to think of you, just you, with your gentle hand on my cheek, caressing me, telling me I am being foolish in that tender way of yours, and I calm down enough to realize you are probably right.
~~Please, God, if only that could be true. Tell me I go to bed scared every night for nothing.~~
Please don’t be afraid that I want too much from you; I know that when I return home you will likely be married to someone whose time in the war was shorter than mine. And I will bear him no ill will, as long as he does not try to deny me the need to have you with me in my heart now. Whoever he turns out to be, he will be so lucky to have you. Now, with me a prisoner in a faraway land for an indefinite period of time, your own life should be beginning. Husband. Children. Holidays with the family. Not worrying whenever the mailman comes or the telephone rings. I could not ask it of you, and you knew I had to join the Allied fight.
~~You knew, but you hated it. I wish we hadn’t argued before I left for London. ~~ He absently fingered the paper as he re-read what he had written. Could she really believe what he was saying? ~~I miss you.~~ And suddenly he dropped the charade.
I love you. I think of you every day. When I’m here I sometimes get so afraid I will never get home. Please, be there for me, please. Tell me you’ll be waiting when I arrive one day, if anyone ever ends this God forsaken war. I need you—God knows, I need someone so badly.
He rubbed his eyes and breathed deeply, trying to will these overwhelming emotions away. ~~Blast this no-escape policy…. I want to go home!~~
A knock on the door.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my love.
“Colonel, Kommandant Klink wants to see you.”
“Right. Thanks, Le Beau.”
He stood up, grabbed his crush cap and jacket. Looked at his scribblings: ‘I need someone so badly.’ ~~But you do, too. And I can’t be there for you.~~
He picked up the letter as he left the office, and threw it in the burning stove.
31 January 2004
Text and original characters copyright 2004 by Linda Groundwater
This copyright covers only original material and characters, and in no way intends to infringe upon the privileges of the holders of the copyrights, trademarks, or other legal rights, for the Hogan's Heroes universe.