I’ll Stop Crying When You Come Home

I’LL STOP CRYING WHEN YOU COME HOME

by BIYANG HANSEN

 

Beloved Johnny,

I know only two days have passed since you left. But I already miss you so much that I almost can’t stand it. I know we talked it through before you went, but I still can’t understand why you had to leave. Couldn’t they just get somebody else? Did it have to be you?
I know I shouldn’t write like this, and I won’t. I just think this place, our home, seems so empty without you around. When I woke up this morning, I didn’t open my eyes for a long time. I was just lying in our bed, imagining that you were lying next to me and would take me in your arms any moment. But of course, that’s just me being silly.
Have you even gotten there yet? I saw on TV yesterday about the new troops being sent in and all.
It has started to snow here. Yesterday afternoon the first snowflakes began to fall, as I was on my way home with the groceries. And now the small garden in front of the house is all white, and the sidewalk too. The street has been cleared, but since it is still snowing everything gets covered again very fast. Of course they have to clear the street, but actually I like it better when it’s all covered with snow. It’s so beautiful when everything is white and soft. I would love for you to see it. Maybe it will still be there when you get home. Or else, we can see it together next year. We can sit in the kitchen and look out of the window with the new curtains, and watch the snow fall on the trees and in the street. You probably won’t get to see any snow where you are now. I don’t think it ever snows over there. At least, I’ve never heard of it. But that’s maybe better too. All warm and that.
I better end this letter now. You’re probably busy down there, getting yourself settled and packed out, so you won’t have time to read a long letter any time soon. Maybe you won’t even get this letter anytime soon.
But I hope you will, and if you get a free moment, please write me a line or two. About how you feel and that you miss me as much as I miss you.

Kisses and love,
Your Lisa.

* * *

My love,

It’s only a day since I wrote you the last letter. I know it’s stupid, but you know, I miss you so much, and I think I have to tell you about what happens back home. That way, maybe you won’t feel so far away, where you are now.
It stopped snowing here. Must have stopped this night or this morning. But it’s still freezing outside and there’s still snow in our garden and on the trees out at the street. I hung up small pellets of food for the birds and they’re already eating from them. Poor little creatures, outside in the cold. Maybe we can build a little nesting box for them when you get home. That way they won’t have to be so cold next winter.
And you know, Mrs. McGrath down at the shop said she had heard in the radio that the war was gonna end soon, and that some of the troops could be expected home pretty soon. I hope you’re one of them, my love. I didn’t watch TV today, because when I hear of the war it makes me miss you so much. So maybe it’s better not to watch it.
I often think of how far away you are now. Isn’t it strange that some people get to spend their whole life together and never have to leave each other’s side, and other people, like us, are taken away from each other right after we got married, and don’t know when we will see each other again? All because of that stupid war, that no one understands anyway. Sorry, my love, I know I shouldn’t speak like this when you’re over there. You’re of course doing the right thing, and I’m glad you’re doing it. Even though I miss you so much, and I think it’s unfair that I can’t have you here with me, I’m proud of you. And Mrs. McGrath is proud of you too. She said, “You found yourself a good man, He’s doing a good job for our country right now.” She really said that. I almost blushed. And then she said, “You should be proud of him,” and I said, “I am. I sure am.” And that’s true, so forgive me if I seem a bit selfish every now and then, by wanting you to come home. I just hope that it won’t be too long before we can see each other again, and that you’re thinking of me where you are now.

Kiss you,
Lisa.

* * *

The snow has melted and it’s gotten a bit warmer since last I wrote to you. Of course it’s still nowhere near spring, and more snow can still fall. And it probably will. But still it feels good to have a little warmth in the air again.
Mr. McGrath offered me a job down in the shop, and I think I’m going to take it. Just until you get home again of course, but maybe it will help me to think about something else than the war, and that I miss you. Because I think about that all the time, I really do.
I heard someone tell a story down at the shop today. It was while we were listening to the radio, an old man began to tell it to us. None of us had said anything to him, he just began speaking, out of the blue. Maybe he told it because he could see I was sad. I really try not to show it, but it’s hard sometimes. But anyhow, it was like this:
“You know the story about the two butterflies and the wind?” the man asked us.
And since I didn’t I said: “No can’t say I do.”
And Mrs. McGrath hadn’t heard it either, so the man began to tell it:

Once upon a time there were two butterflies, and they were flying around in the sun, happy since they knew nothing of how big and cruel the world is and they knew nothing of the cold winter too. So they were happy, just flapping around their wings, playing tag among the leaves and branches of the lilac, and enjoying the sunshine. And they loved each other too, those two beautiful butterflies, and someday they were going to have a lot of small caterpillars together.
But then the wind came, hard and cruel as only the winds down south can be, and Mr. and Mrs. Butterfly got awfully scared and tried to hold on to anything that would keep them from getting pulled away from each other. But their struggle was futile against the heavy wind and Mr. Butterfly was grabbed by it and blown off towards the great sky. Maybe he yelled something to Mrs. Butterfly, but she could not hear it for the roar of the wind.
And that way Mr. Butterfly was taken away from his beautiful wife, and he was blown almost to the end of the world, where he saw many strange and terrible things. But all the while, he was thinking about his wife back home. And wherever he went and wherever the strong winds were carrying him, he was thinking of her. And he asked the strange and alien insects that he met on his way, if they had ever known such love as he felt now, being so far from her and all.
But however strong his wish was to see his wife again, he could do nothing against the strong winds that dragged him along.

Then some woman asked Mrs. McGrath to find something for her, and Mrs. McGrath said to the man: “Don’t you go nowhere, Mister. I’ll be right back to hear the end of that story.” And when she came back the man went on:

So Mr. and Mrs. Butterfly didn’t see each other for a long time, and Mrs. Butterfly spent an awfully lot of time sitting on her green leaf crying, because she was missing her husband so much.
And then one day, a beetle came by and heard Mrs. Butterfly’s whimpering. He said: “What are you sitting there crying for, little miss?” And he dried her eyes with those long antennas of his.
And Mrs. Butterfly told him the whole terrible story, and he took pity on her, and did not have the heart to eat her, for that had indeed been his very plan all along. Did you know that butterflies are the beetle’s preferred eating?
However, since the beetle did not know any way to help Mrs. Butterfly to get out of her misery, all he could do was to wipe off her tears with his antennas for a while and then he left, leaving her only with the wishes that everything would be all right and that she would see her husband again before long.
None of this had helped Mrs. Butterfly much, and she knew that nothing could ever make her happy again, if she didn’t see her beloved husband again.
And then, to make matters worse, the rain began to fall. And as you probably know, while rain can be a nuisance to us people, it is a very dangerous thing for butterflies, and even one single drop can do things to a butterfly that we would not dare to speak out in the open. So the crying Mrs. Butterfly sought shelter beneath one of the biggest leaves that she was able to find, and she waited, and waited, and waited even longer, scared, cold, and exhausted.

And then another customer came up to Mrs. McGrath to ask for something, but Mrs. McGrath gave sign to her to wait. I guess she was too excited about hearing the end of the story to let anything get in between.

And as she waited, and the days went by, the summer grew old, and there was still no sign of her missing husband. Not until she heard a frail voice in the distance. At first she could not recognize it, and she could not hear what it was saying. But as it got closer she felt that there was something familiar about this voice, and she got out from under the leaf where she had been hiding. Her wings were sore after not being used for such long time. And she flapped them, like butterflies do, and rose into the air and the late summer’s golden sunlight.
And there, in the distance, she saw a tiny shape, flying in the air and slowly coming closer. It was of course Mr. Butterfly, and though his wings had been torn and worn by the long travel, he went as fast as his wings could carry him towards the place where he vaguely saw the shape of his wife. And they met in a warm embrace and Mr. Butterfly told Mrs. Butterfly, that all the time he had been away, he had felt the weight of her tears, and that had showed him the way home.
And they lived, of course, happily ever after, among the leaves of the lilac.

More women had gathered in front of the counter in the shop, but they didn’t mind that Mrs. McGrath did not attend them, I guess they were as anxious to hear how the story ended as we were. When the old man had finished the story he asked for a packet of cigarettes, and he did look a bit disappointed as Mrs. McGrath demanded its full price. But I can understand her, these are hard times and there’s not much we can do about it.

I never heard that story before, but I think it was very beautiful, and somehow it fits our situation very well, so I wanted to tell it to you too. I’d like to think that the two butterflies are us, and that we too will sit between the green leaves in the warm sunshine.
By the way, the small birds have already finished the pellets of food I got for them, so I had to buy new ones to put up. Hungry little devils! But who can blame them, sitting out there in the blistering cold. I feel pity for them when I sit in the kitchen and look at them through the window.
I hope you get some time to read my letters. You’re of course very busy over there, but I’d really like to hear from you, and hear you tell me something about all that’s happening. It must be exciting, scary too, but still, a little exciting to see these new places. I wish I could be there with you, and that this war would be over.

Kisses,
Lisa.

* * *

The summer is here now, no more snow and no more cold. I’d wish you were here to see it with me. Of course it can’t really be summer here, not like last summer when we moved in here, when you’re not here.
I went to the doctor last week. I had been feeling strange, and not really well for a while, and I went and talked to him. And here’s a big surprise for you! For us both actually.
I’m pregnant!
The doctor told me. He said, “Ma’am, you’re going to have a baby.” And actually, I was so much in doubt if I should tell you yet or not. Don’t be angry. I just didn’t want you to be worried for me and the baby while you are over there, and have a lot of other things to think about. But I think I had to tell you, and I hope I’ve done the right thing. You know the thing we talked about, about always going to tell each other the truth and all? And I can’t keep anything hidden from you. It wouldn’t be right if I did. I’m so excited about it! Aren’t you? We’re going to have a little baby!
What should we name him? Or her? Of course, we can talk about that when you get back home. The doctor says, there’s still a long time before our child is going to be born. But it’s just so exciting to think that we’re going to have our own little baby in the house.
I love you so much.

Lisa.

* * *

I saw a group of men yesterday, who’d just gotten back from the war. They were still wearing their uniforms. They were all drunk and insulted everyone they passed on the street. I don’t like to think that those are the kind of people that you are with now. I know you’re brothers in arms and all, but it just scares me to think that people get like this from being over there. They were like they had just gotten out from prison.
Things are going pretty good here, but I still get these moment where I get all scared that I will never see you again, that something terrible has happened to you, and that I just haven’t heard yet. But I hope, and I have faith in, that everything will be all right, and that you’ll be home with me before soon, if I just stay brave and take care of the house and everything. You know, I felt the baby kick yesterday, it was so wonderful! It’s really alive inside me! Hope you will get home soon so we can experience this together. I know you will love it too.
Oh, Johnny, I have to tell you this. I know I shouldn’t but it keeps getting into my mind, and I’ve even dreamt about it these last nights.
It’s like I see all these fields of destruction, the fire in the woods, and I think about you. It’s like the sun has gone away from us, and won’t be back before we find something that we’ve lost. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know if it even makes any sense at all. But it keeps me awake most of the night, and when I finally fall asleep it’s even in my dreams. I don’t think it’s too good for the child neither. And I’m afraid that it will grow up, only to be sent into a war, like you are now. I don’t understand it. I’ve tried, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.
Please, let me know that you’re okay, Johnny. That’s all I’ll ever ask.

Lisa.

* * *

Forgive me for asking, but when are you coming home? I know I asked you in the last letter, and now I’m asking again. You probably don’t even know, but it’s so hard to be back here, waiting for you, and not knowing when I’ll see you again.
I haven’t heard from you once since you went away. I try to be strong, but all the waiting is killing me.

Yours forever,
Lisa.

* * *

Johnny, I don’t know how much longer I can take it. Please come home, my love, please come home. I can’t stand thinking that I will give birth to our child without you being here. The doctor says it’s gonna be soon now. I’m afraid, afraid that I will never see you again, afraid that our child will never see his father. Please, Johnny, let me hear from you, tell me that you’re okay and that you are coming home to me soon.
I’ve been crying so much these days. Sometimes, even if I don’t know why, I just start to cry. I miss you so much. And I haven’t heard from you, not even once, in all this time. If I just knew that you are okay, and that you will come home to me again some time.
I know you never liked when I cried. I remember how you said “Don’t cry, my love. You make me all sad too.” And I don’t want to make you sad.
But I promise you, I’ll stop crying when you come home.

 

______
“I’LL STOP CRYING WHEN YOU COME HOME”
A short story consisting of seven letters from newly-wed Lisa to her husband Johnny, who has been sent to the war.
Copyright © 2007 by Biyang Hansen. All rights reserved.

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5 Responses to “I’ll Stop Crying When You Come Home”

  1. […] A Page for a Story I have now gathered all seven parts of the short story “I’ll Stop Crying When You Come Home” into a single page, which can be read here. […]

  2. Beautiful story.

    I especially liked the ‘Butterfly Story’.

  3. Thank you very much, megelert3.

  4. This is lovely.
    The butterfly story made me smile.

  5. this is beautiful. did you get a reply?

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