Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Delivery (not) Guaranteed

Today I was talking with a friend who is a ranger at Idaho’s Farragut State Park. The park was a huge naval training station during WWII. The only remaining building from those days is the brig. During some recent renovation in the building, they found a letter secreted away in the walls that had never been delivered. It had been written by some young man who was in the brig for some reason and apparently felt the need to hide it. The letter was addressed to his sweetheart in Tennessee, and included an envelope and stamp.

This is the sort of thing that makes a writer’s brain start cranking. We want to fill in the details. What was he in for? Why did he hide the letter? Why didn’t he retrieve it before he got out? Did he get out, or did something fiendish happen to him? What happened to her?
Nearly 70 years later we get to eavesdrop on his personal correspondence. He meant for someone--someone special--to read the letter. She never did.
I think this story may unsettle writers more than others, because we are constantly hiding something in the walls, hoping that eventually someone will read what we wrote. Inevitably, there will be that last attempt at writing; that last unfinished manuscript.

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