At that last question she started crying again. I swear, Glory, I did not know what to do. I patted her hand, which was all bone. That girl might work in a kitchen but she sure isn't doing any eating.
"Have you tried writing to him, hon?" She cried harder at this, her small frame racking over my kitchen table.
"I'm no good at it? I thought I'd just wait until he came back? But I can't wait anymore?"
"Do you want me to include a message from you when I write to him?" i'll be seeing you
Her face lit up, and for a few short seconds I could see what kept Toby interested.
So she's coming back next Monday, her day off. I have no idea what Toby really thinks of her. I'm tempted to write him a letter first, to ask, but now that just seems mean.
I have been giving some thought to your garden. I'm spoiledIowa's soil is rich and loamy. I was stumped, so I asked Irene. She said to think about the rocky places we're reading about in the newspapersthe shores of Italy, the mountains of Greece. What do they grow there? Oregano? Lemon balm? Or, you could simply throw down a few inches of compost and fake it. That's what we do, isn't it? Do the best with what we have? It's not lying, dear. Don't look at it that way. It's hopeful pretending. Consider it your patriotic duty.
February 20, 1943
V-mail from Marguerite Vincenzo to Pfc. Salvatore Vincenzo
I can fit exactly fifteen lines on these damn things. Sixteen if I don't sign my name. You'll know who it's from, wontcha? Maybe I'll seal it with a kiss and the censor can get lipstick all over his fingers. I miss you. The nights are quiet, but the mornings are worsethis town seems cleared out, like everyone snuck off without saying goodbye. I know what you're thinking and I am trying to keep myself busy. Promise. I have a war wife pen pal (surprise, surprise) and Mrs. Kleinschmidt has me down at the American Legion rolling bandages. I hate the look of them. Bandages have only one use, you know?
I guess you do know. But I'm not supposed to write about things like that so I won't. The thought of you getting a letter with the words blacked out is just too depressing.
Anyway, Toby wrote last week. He said the air in Maryland smells like fish soup and his bunkmate's name is Howard. He neglected to mention anything about the girl who came looking for him a few days ago, some scrawny thing named Roylene. Ring a bell for you? Didn't for me. I suppose she's harmless enough. Now I've done it. Only one line to say I love you. And I do. Be safe. XO Rita
March 1, 1943
I'm so glad you are good at telling stories. I haven't curled up with a good book in a long time, since before Robbie was born. When I was a girl, I'd spend the day at the beach with only a blanket and the latest Nancy Drew mystery. I loved her outspokenness. She was never afraid. I admired that so.
And what a mysterious situation you find yourself in. I wonder what your boy is up to. Do you like her, this girl? I couldn't tell from your letter. I guess it doesn't matter. At least you have something to take your mind off Sal.
My Robert's mother, Claire Whitehall, doesn't like me. Never did. She thinks I'm "new money" because my mother wasn't technically part of the New England aristocracy. Imagine. I was brought up summering right here on these rocks in this town. I'd barely even kissed a boy until Robert. And even though I've known her my whole life, I can't seem to get her to accept me. I've almost stopped trying. Almost.
Excerpted from I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan. Copyright © 2013 by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan. Excerpted by permission of Mira. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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