Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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Dear Father

December 17, 2021

Adam R. Nettesheim


Dear Father,

Peter is scolding me yet again and I am just tired of it, so I thought the least trouble I could get into with him would be to sit quietly and write. Though I’m certain he would be very grumpy if he knew I was complaining about him to you. Consider this my quiet resistance. He cast a new insult my way today. “Ungrateful wretch” or something similar to that. I am tired of him lording himself over me. I am tired of missing you. I am tired of this pointless war. I will write more later.

Back again. Nothing good to report from the home-front. Peter is still acting like he is you – which is irritating beyond my capacity to endure it. Mother made us give most of our toys to the scrap drives. Our food rations are boring and tasteless. I can’t read at night when there’s a blackout. Why will they not let you come home? I hate the Jerries as much as anyone else, but if they got what they wanted then the war could be over, and you could come home, and we could eat some decent food for a change! I still remember when you came back from that business trip from the east two Christmases ago and you brought us… what was that candy? It was not terribly good – I do not very much care for rosewater and it had become a little slimy in the tin… I wish I could remember what it was called… It makes me smile to think of it though because I remember staying up with you after everyone else went to bed. We listening to music on the radio and ate the rest of those sweets together and drank coco. I told you that joke that made you snort it out your nose and even though you told me it was not very polite you still giggled. I miss you so much, Father.

Hello again. I do not know whether you will be proud or angry with me, but I snuck into the recruitment office today to try to enlist. I am certain you will have guessed my attempt was not successful. The man at the desk laughed and called me a ‘boy’ and told me to go home. I know it was silly, but I had to take the chance. I was hoping they would enlist me and put me with you. When I came home Peter yelled at me for not being home on time and told me to “grow up”. I am never enough of anything for anyone! If I play with toys I am ‘too childish’. If I try to fight, I am ‘not man enough’. How does…

Father, I am sorry for the smudge on that last line. There was another bombing. The neighbors shed blew up and blasted in our drawing room windows. There is glass is everywhere. I hate glass. I can’t touch it. Like a thousand little dwarf daggers just waiting to stab your fingers. Mother is sweeping, Lucy is crying, Susan is brushing her hair, and Peter is scolding me again. He is mad because I ran to get your picture before going down into the cellar. For this, he calls ME selfish! Yes, dear brother. I AM the one dropping bombs. I AM the one that took dad away. I AM the one yelling at you for saving our father’s photograph. Now he’s yelling because I’m not helping him board up the windows. But if I did, he would yell at me for not doing it right. Just for one day I’d like to be in charge over him and the girls! I’d be nicer to them than they are to me, but I’d make Peter know how it feels to be treated like this. Now Mother is asking so I had better go. I will write more soon.

I AM SO ANGRY FATHER! I CANNOT BELIEVE IT! MOTHER IS SENDING US AWAY! We are on a train right now bound for some stuffy old house in the country to live with some stuffy old codger! The train jostling is why my penmanship is so smudgy right now. Why is she sending us away? We have our names pinned to our jackets like suitcases! I can’t believe this! First you leave us, then Mother sends us away! This war has taken EVERYTHING from me, and for what? They call Fritz evil but what I can see is those who call Fritz evil that are doing all the things that have destroyed my life! It was our leaders who sent you away, then they took our toys, our food, and our lights at night! Now it is our very own mother who is sending us away! Perhaps I should be grateful that she finally hugged me on the platform. First time in months, thank you very much! I think it is because she says I am starting to look like you. I think it make her sad to look at me. But if I did look like you, why would she not want to hug me all the time then?! She is ALWAYS hugging Lucy and she looks NOTHING like you! GIVE THE JERRIES WHAT THEY WANT AND COME HOME! Our family breaks more and more every day! Peter and I used to play and wrestle and laugh, but now we don’t ever touch each other! My leg accidentally bumped his royal majesty’s leg a moment ago because the train shook. You would think I hit him in the nose by the look he gave me! Your family is not supposed to be your enemies, right? So why is mine? I want off this train! I hate it! Where is it taking us? I wish I was back home so I could climb inside my your and Mother’s wardrobe and shut the door and the whole world would go away.

Lucy is crying AGAIN which means everyone goes over and tries to make HER feel better AGAIN. I cried ONCE yesterday for a MOMENT and Peter told me to shut up and act like a man! Lucy gets all the sympathy, all the attention, all the apologies. Life is not only difficult on little girls! I am only a year older than her, but I am expected to not cry, not cause trouble, stand up straight, not dottle, not slouch, not complain, not lallygag, not pout, not sit on the floor, keep a stiff upper lip, not be childish, man up, but know my place, and not think too much of myself… I wish just ONCE someone would feel sorry for ME. I wish someone cared about ME and would give ME attention! You left, Mother sent me away, Peter hates me, the girls don’t bother with me… “Do your bit!” “Do your duty, young man!” What about everyone’s duty to me? I am tired of giving up everything for everyone else! Is there ANYONE who will give up anything for me?!

I am sorry to go on like this, Father. I just miss you. I wish we could just go somewhere the two of us and talk and never tell anybody what we talked about. Maybe someday.

I hope whoever owns this old house has a stamp so I can use to send this letter to you. I hope you are well and come home soon. I hope you have not forgotten me.

I love you, Father.

Your son,

p.s. – I just remembered! TURKISH DELIGHT!

The featured image is by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.  We are always grateful for Aaron’s tremendous skill and his generosity!


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  1. I love it, Adam! What a great idea for a piece, and a compassionate one, too.

  2. Thanks very much Matthew!

  3. June CAEDMON says:

    As Matthew said, the compassion in this piece stands out. I think the “old codger” would be proud.

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