Wednesday, 15 February 2017


This month Write Edit Publish (WEP) challenge is: Back of the Drawer

It's up to you! Create an artistic interpretation: a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre is up to you. The artistic choice is yours. A scandal, a lost love found, a deed, a lottery ticket or the last will and testament naming you the sole beneficiary! Go for it!

What will you find at the BACK OF THE DRAWER?

Here is my entry:


Frank rushed into the house. 

‘Maggie, look what I found wedged at the back of one of the drawers.’ 

He held out a bundle of envelopes, tied up with string.

We sat at the kitchen table.  I read each letter, tears filling my eyes.

The family heirloom furniture, ready to be refurbished or upcycled, yielded up the story of Sarah and Walter, not a family myth any longer. 

Walter Kelly – photo credit Sally Stackhouse 

My darling Walter,

I dreamt of you last night.  Your arms were wrapped around me as we snuggled up in bed, your whiskers gently scraped against my cheek.  I heard your snores as you slept peacefully.

I reached out for you but I was alone. 

I reached out in my mind. 

I reached out my love. 

I felt my fingertips tingle. 

I know you felt me. 

I count the days until you are home.

Your loving wife,

Sarah. xxx

My darling Sarah,

My love, my heart.

I only have a few moments.  

I wish I had longer.  

I will not have you crying tears for me.  

I hold you tightly in my heart every moment of the day and night.

Walter xxx

My dearest Walter,

Every night I hold back my tears.  

Every night I peek out of the blackout curtains, one tiny corner, for one tiny, precious moment and send my love soaring across the sky to wherever you are.

Your ever loving wife,

Sarah xxx

My Darling Sarah,

Tonight we had time for a hot cooked meal. I feel a bit more human now.  The rumour is we have tonight to recuperate before we start marching again.

Today was a tough day. My Lieutenant asked me to go through Charlie’s things ready for him to send on.  I steel myself as I do this last thing for him.   We thought he was going to make it but God obviously had other plans for this young boy.  I remember he told me his dad was so proud when he joined up but his mum was very cross.  Now she has to accept he is gone forever. 

Sarah, you must move to the country.  The coast is not safe anymore.  

Stay safe so I can come home to you.

Love you forever and ever.

Walter Xxx

My darling husband,

We are to be relocated to Wells in Somerset.  It seems even further away from you, although I know you are thousands of miles away but if I think it is only a piece of sea separating us then I can cope a bit more.

We are only allowed one suitcase. We don't know how long we will be gone for.  It is a farm and I will work in the fields.  I am not afraid of hard work.  I am only afraid of the evil in the world. 

I am so proud of you my darling husband and all the men who risk their lives so that we can live freely but sometimes I do wonder if the price is too high.

Do you think I could write to Charlie’s mum?  Are you allowed to give me her address?

Waiting forever for you to return.

Love you more and more each day.

Sarah xxx

Dear Nora,

My deepest sympathies go out to you at this time.  My husband, Walter, served with your Charlie.  I hope you don’t mind me writing to you.  I met your lovely lad last summer. He didn’t have enough time to get to Wales to see you and his dad so he came home with Walter on a 24-hour leave.

We chatted and drank some tea.  He talked about you, he showed me your picture, you, his dad and two little brothers.  He kept the picture in a pocket next to his heart.   He gave me a lovely cuddle as he left and I felt all the love he had for his family which I now pass on to you.

I am working on a farm in Somerset so I think of you working on your farm, doing the same chores as I am, waking up early and retiring early, physically worn out. 
Let’s hope this horrible war is over soon, they say it will be over by Christmas.

My best wishes to you and your family.

Mrs. Sarah Kelly.

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for your kind words.

I cry every night for my boy.

Best wishes

Mrs. Nora Jones.


We regret to inform you
Sergeant Walter Kelly severely wounded.
Receiving treatment at the Royal Free Hospital.


Dear Walter,

I will catch the train tomorrow. 

I will be at the hospital Wednesday. 

I will look after you always.



Dear Sarah,

Do not come.


Dear Walter,

I came all this way to see you.  Why won't you see me? 

I love you with all my heart. 

I have found some lodgings two streets away. 

I will come to the hospital every day until you see me.

Always yours,


Oh my darling Sarah,

I am not the man I was when you saw me last. 

I can't be the man you married. 

I won't make you look after an invalid for the rest of our life.

I do love you. 

With all my heart.


Darling, darling Walter,

I leave this letter by your bedside.
I know you can't see it.

I know you can’t pick it up.

I leave it with all my love.

I leave it with you for all eternity.

As a soldier you did your duty.

As a man you honoured your country

As my husband you had to go.

As your wife I understand.

As your wife I wanted you to stay.

My husband

My lover

My friend

My heart breaks

My soul weeps

My mind shrieks

I scream in the night

I scream in the daylight

Why do humans fight?

Who was right?

 Sarah, yours for always and forever.

Photo credit: Sally Stackhouse

Walter and Sarah’s love waited a long time to be found, now their love story could be told. 


  1. I have visited many genealogy blogs where bloggers have shared wartime letters much like this. Fact or fiction -- they are always tough to get through without a hanky or two.

  2. Such heartbreak, I don't understand war, nor the glorification of it. Re-enactments of death and eternal pain. Do we learn, hell no, we keep doing it over and over again!

    Sorry, your piece brought up some emotion probably best left unsaid.

    Beautifully done! Thank you!

  3. A beautiful, yet poignant love between two people in wartime. This is like Everyman and Everywoman's story. Sally, you've told it beautifully in letter form. The letter to Charlie's mum was a nice touch.

    Thanks, Sally, to writing for WEP again. It's wonderful to have you back. Your stories always hit a chord with me.

    Denise :-)

  4. War is an ugly warped thing. If I got to choose an entry to win it would be this one. So sad, poignant and touching. These letters make my heart ache.

  5. This made me cry. So much love, loss. I hope they are together in eternity.

  6. Hi Sally - thank you for coming over to my WEP post and blog ... this is an amazing story - fact or fiction, or a mix ... the strange thing is - I've just read some letters from my mother's first husband who was killed in the War ... and though nothing personal - the odd piece of information came out ... so your story telling here - made so much more intense in its apparent reality.

    Wonderfully well crafted and as Sheena-kay says they make my heart ache ... and I'll be thinking about them in relation to my recent look into the past.

    Thanks ... brilliantly told - cheers Hilary

  7. War is just such a horrible waste! So much love, so much loss, so much unbearable sadness.

    So very poignant. Brought a lump to my throat.

  8. Oh Sally, I enjoyed reading these letters between the two. I thought about how many marriages broke up because men who were injured didn't want to burden their wives.
    Beautifully done.
    Shalom aleichem,

  9. Ugg, war is never grand, so many loss it all, never getting back to what they once had.

  10. Such a sad story but beautifully told. I hate war. The price is always too high. Very well done!
    - Jen

  11. The horrors of war are beautifully illustrated in these letters. It appears to be a true story, but if not, it's still heart wrenching.

  12. I write this with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart. War is so senseless and you have done such a good job of writing this and evoking emotion.

  13. So sad, Sally. War is a terrible thing and yet it continues for many different reasons. Heartbreaking for all it touches.

  14. What a true and emotional reaction to the effects of war. A sad tale, whether fact or fiction, told beautifully. Thank you for sharing it.

  15. How nice of you to share this intimate look at how it felt during the world wars. To know that the reasoning of men serving is just, helps a bit, but the heartbreak for so many families takes a toll. I liked the way you interpreted this prompt. I'm surprised I didn't cry, but I did get choked a bit at the end.

  16. War can change lives in unimaginable ways. Fear, worry, the ever looming specter of death. And even the ones that survive can't go back to the lives they once lived. Not in the same way, at least.