Mother and Father,
I hope you will not worry for me. I could not sit aside any longer while our country is torn apart. I will return once the war has been won.
Your loving son,
Mother and Father,
I have not received a response to my last letter home. I hope that to mean it has just not found its way to me. Three years of fighting, and I’m ready to come home. They say this war should be over soon. But they have been saying that since the first shots of this senseless war. Still, I hope to be home soon.
Your weary son,
Mother and Father,
I am coming home. The war is done, and the Union secure. I do not know why you have still not responded, or if your letter had just been lost on its way to me. I pray that is the answer, but this war has left me little easiness where those I care for are concerned.
I got word Joseph fell at Gettysburg. No one has had word of Benjamin since I joined up. I hope he is well and will be returning home to you as well, and that you were able to keep Aaron from joining the war effort. I saw Peter at one of the battles and held his hand in the field hospital after as he faded away. Two brothers gone, and that isn’t the worst of the war.
I am sorry if this letter brings you sorrow. I feel it’s all I’m left with some days. I am just ready to be home. I hope to find the rest of you well.
Your hopeful son,
This letter will likely never find you, still I will post it, even not knowing where you are now. You are the only one I can write to with this news. You are my only living brother, if you do indeed still live. Mother and father are dead. They perished in a house fire more than a year ago. Aaron and Bridget went with them.
Abigail is married to our old neighbor, Elijah. I am sure you remember him, you were of an age. He treats her and their three children well from all I could see. Joseph and Peter fell during the war. I hope the same fate did not come to you. But, I do not know how I will ever know.
I cannot stay here any longer. There is nothing left for me here. I do not know where I will go, but I hope to find my place out there. Perhaps I will even find you while I’m about it.
Your searching brother,
I hope this letter finds you well. I got your last before leaving Mayfield. The country is still torn to pieces. I do hope it can start being put back to rights soon.
I have a new nephew, you say. Elijah must be so proud. I miss the children. I wish I’d felt I could stay as you offered, but it didn’t feel right. I’m keeping on the move now. No place feels more like home than another. I do plan to stay here for a time, so hopefully your next letter will catch me as well.
I hope you, Elijah, and the children all remain well. Maybe in time I will see you again.
Your wandering brother,
I killed a man. I can barely stand to put those words to paper. He was not the first, but the others were all during war. This was different. I did not wish to kill him, but he was stealing my horse, my only means of travel. I only meant to stop him, not kill him.
Please do not relay this news to my sister. I do not wish her to know what I am becoming. His friends tracked me down. I didn’t have a choice, Elijah. If I had not killed them, they would have killed me. But, it is weighing down my soul.
I do not know how long I will be here in this town. The marshal assured me I am in no trouble for defending my own life, but those men may have more friends. I will do what is necessary to stay alive, but I do not wish to take more lives.
Take care of my sister and nephews,
Your disquieted brother-in-law,
I have met a woman. I know I have been silent for a while. I did not want you to know what my life has become. If Elijah has not told you, tell him he may. I am changing it, or at least making my best effort to return to the man I’d hoped to be.
But, I do not wish you to worry about that. I have signed on with a cattle outfit in Texas now and only use my guns as needed. We have just delivered a herd of cattle to New Mexico Territory, which is where I met her. Arcelia Rodriguez. I do not know how to put to paper all I feel for her. The rest of the outfit is heading back to Texas in the morning. I have taken my wages and will be returning to Arcelia.
I may have no future here with her, either. But, it is something I hope to find out.
Your loving brother,
Your baby brother is now a married man. I can barely write the words without laughing and shaking my head. Arcelia accepted when I asked for her hand, and the rest feels like a whirlwind. I have never been so happy as the day we were bound together.
It is not all light and joy, though. There was another man who wanted Arcelia’s hand. When she chose me, he swore we’d regret it. As much as I have enjoyed working for Arcelia’s family, there is no way we could stay there and be safe. I won’t risk her, especially not now when she is carrying my child.
Yes, I am to be a father. Can you believe that? I’ve built on some land on the other side of the territory from her family. It’s nearly a week ride between, but her brother, Diego, has promised to visit when he can. And to keep watch on the situation there. If it is ever resolved, we may be able to return.
I remain safe for now. And I hope you and your family are as well.
Your settled brother,
I am glad to hear that Varick Steinwehr no longer appears to be a problem on that side of the territory. Since you say it is safe, I will bring Arcelia and Alejandro for a visit. I do not yet know about moving back. As you know, I have started a small ranch of my own out here. I am not sure I am ready to just start over.
But, we will visit. Arcelia misses you and the rest of the family. And I would like Alejandro to meet his grandparents before he can remember a time of not knowing them. I have to see to some things here, then we shall leave. In two weeks’ time, we should be there.
Your grateful brother-in-law,
We made it home. I will keep this short as I still tire easily and am not feeling well. The wounds from Varick’s bullets are healing, but I still wake with nightmares. As does Arcelia. Alejandro seems to be none the worse for his ordeal, but I suppose only time will tell.
I want to think Varick’s son’s threats were empty, but I cannot take that risk. It would be better if people start to hear I am dead. I’m afraid he will never stop coming for me otherwise. With Arcelia’s condition, I will not put my growing family to chance. This will be the last you hear from me until you can make your way here.
Your despairing brother-in-law,
Luke Tierney sat back after sealing the final letter he’d send to his brother-in-law. He closed his eyes, but that didn’t stop that day from playing out in his mind. A hand came down on his shoulder, gentle as it always was. “Are you finished?” his wife asked. “You should come to bed.”
“No,” he said quietly. “I have one more thing to do.”
He stood up from the chair, taking a moment until his body stopped protesting, then unbuckled the gun belt from around his waist. He walked to the bedroom and knelt in front of the chest at the end of their bed. Once he’d tucked the guns inside, he sat back on his heels.
“You do not have to do that,” Arcelia said. “You can still protect us with them.”
Luke shook his head. “All they have brought me is destruction. I’m not Lucas Tierney, the gunfighter. From now on, I’m only Luke Tierny, a simple rancher. That’s all I want, this place, you, and our family. None of the trouble those have always brought me.”
He could only hope laying them down would be enough.
Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write a story using a series of letters. I wasn’t going to add that last bit, as it isn’t in the form of a letter. But, I decided to anyway. And Luke’s going to learn it won’t be quite that easy after all.