Nancy Nickerson beat me to posting a story with this same kind of premise, so if you've read hers, I think at least at the beginning that this will sound familiar. So far, it contains mild adult situations, but nothing explicit.

She'll never be mine.

Ned Nickerson sat in the cafeteria at Emerson College, scraping his fork through the gravy-soaked meatloaf, his chin in his hand. The heavy monogrammed paper next to his tray was filled with slanting feminine writing.

He couldn't even remember where she was this time. Her letter made the vaguest references, but at least it wasn't the war, the war, the war, like everything else these days. His father had been in the Great War, and he called Ned in the fraternity every night, to tell him if the draft letter had arrived.

Ned knew it was a when. Every morning when he woke, he remembered it was a when. At seven o'clock when he walked to the study to wait for his father's nightly call, his heart pounded.

He looked down at the class ring on his hand. The heavy thick paper, lightly perfumed with her scent, caught his eye, and Ned turned to it again.

Your friend,


He was always careful to sign his letters the same way she signed hers. More than once he'd found himself ripping up an otherwise unassuming letter after he'd slipped and signed it the way he wanted. Love, forever and always.

But she'll never be mine.

He usually didn't let himself think about it, not like this. But a month ago, his best friend had received the draft letter. Twenty-four hours later, he was engaged; now, a week before his scheduled departure, his longtime girlfriend was his wife, a thin gold band around her finger and a charming smile on her face. Mike had confided after one too many drinks that maybe he'd come home after, his family already swelled to three.

Ned ran the ball of his thumb over the margin of the page. As much as he liked Jan, Jan wasn't Nancy. He couldn't imagine that Nancy would ever be one to sit at home waiting for anything. As alluring as he found the thought of her standing in some red-and-white checkered kitchen in an apron, stroking a palm over a rounded belly with a glowing smile on her face, it was as unreal as the war going on half the world away, and Ned wasn't Mike. Nancy would be no hasty wartime bride, when the letter came.

Ned folded Nancy's letter and slipped it back into its envelope, back into his bag.