The Post War Dream

I know this letter must come to you out of the blue considering that you've had no communication regarding your son for almost two years. I served, I suppose would be the best term, with your son for the better part of a year and half. We met at a POW camp in June the year before last and came to be pretty close during our stay there. As you can imagine, our somewhat sorry situation put us in a position in which we had to rely on each for support.
I know that you did not approve of him joining the army. I also know that he used to write to you every week. I can only imagine what it must have felt like when the letters stopped coming. He always wished that you had written back, though. I'm sure that you'd wanted to. I could just never figure out why you didn't. He believed knew that you loved him even though you never did write back. I think he was right. I hope he was right. Was he?
He always talked about you in a sort of larger than life sense - his mom, the woman who could handle anything, thrifty vendors or gigantic hurricanes, Scrapes and bruises or Air Raids and Wars. He inherited his patriotism from you, I believe. He used to talk about how you'd make him stay up till midnight every independence day to salute the flag. I wonder if you realise how big an influence you were on him. There were some things he just had to do for himself. Some things that you couldn't influence him on.
His biggest fear was that he would disappoint you in some way. I think that is what got him through some of the rougher treatment we were subjected to by our less than congenial hosts. He felt that he would fail his country and you, in some sense, if he broke under the pressure. Knife points or needles, ropes or shackles, he never seemed to break. Of course, this only made our hosts try even harder. They'd never come across a man they couldn't break ... until they came up against your son. Who knew the little twerp had it in him.
Your son had a pretty mischievous streak, though, but then I guess you already know that. We used to steal some of the booze from our captors every couple of weeks. You can't imagine how much fun it used to be. "Like stealing from mom's kitchen", he would say with a grin on his face after we'd gotten back to our bunks. He'd talk about all the sweets he'd steal, all the times he'd get away with it even though the dish was right under your nose. Did he really manage to get away with it or did you just let him go? (From what I've heard of you, I'd think it was the latter. I can just imagine you watching him skulking around from the corner of your eye.) We'd crawl between the huts to the building where they'd keep it, sneak in and steal a couple of bottles for everyone who bunked with us.
It used to be great fun, like an adventure. We were men of fortune, intrepid explorers searching for a lost treasure ... searching for hope. This was the stuff that made the rest of it bearable. We'd always think we were hitting them where it hurt. I suppose it was a fool's hope, but it was a hope nonetheless. The problem is that they weren't like you. They didn't turn a blind eye the couple of times that they caught us. We were forced to drink all that we had stolen. We'd always go through it together, the two of us ... made it easier somehow.
We'd always talk about it as though we'd been out to a bar the previous night and couldn't remember what happened. Oh, he came up with some pretty wild stories for the bruises we'd have in the morning! One of them involved a tight rope act, except that the role of the rope was played by him. Another involved a bar fight in which the two of us were defending the honour of a lady. Faced by a host of foes with guns and knives, chains and daggers. As you can see, we tried to make our life as light as possible. There was way too much to pull us the other way.
He'd tell me about how he used to stay up with his father and stare at the night sky. The stars "like holes in a blindfold someone tied around my head." He said he'd like to look up at those stars with his son someday, with a telescope hopefully. He'd teach his son about the constellations, just Libra and trustworthy Capricorn and all the others. He tried to teach me these but I just couldn't follow. Being brought up in a city, I never got to see too many stars. I should have tried harder to learn. I don't know when he'll tell me about them again.
There's something I think I should tell you, because I'm sure he never will and maybe because you're in a position to do something about it. Before he shipped off for the army, his affections were reserved for a girl he knew, XXXXXX, he met her in college, I'm hoping that you know her or at least of her. He never told her how he felt and I'm sure he'll kill me for telling you about it. I'm a bit of hopeless romantic, but I hope she's waiting for him and I hope she will till he comes back.
We always talked about what we would do when we got back home. All the people we would see, all the places we would go, all the things we would do. He always said that he would take you to the city, just to get you out of the town. To show you all that was missing in the little towns. How he'd buy a car and drive through the countryside with its crisp, clean air. How he'd lie down in the fields and stare up at the clouds and try to see his friend's faces in their shapes. His enthusiasm was contagious, some of his dreams became mine.
I know that I've rambled on quite a bit without answering the question that's burning in your mind. The truth is, I don't know where your son is. We were shipped off to different camps about four months ago. The camp I was in was found by our allies and we were shipped back home a few weeks ago. I've been trying to find out about your son since I got back. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish he was here with me.
I know that you knew the boy that your son was. I felt that you should know the man he is.

Yours Sincerely