On a Saturday, the War Department office on D street were practically deserted—but there were a few die-hards with their lights on, catching up on paperwork, or just using the peaceful tranquillity to get ahead. Steve Trevor shook his head as he glanced at the wall clock, which read 0751, and found private candy and Yeoman prince already in the office, hard at work.
Etta was out of uniform—a rare occurrence for her, but no doubt a practical one, as she was kneeing on the floor next to an open mailbag. Her dark blonde hair was held back by a bright scarf, and in her slacks and sweater, she looked more like a college student than a WAC. Diana, however, had stuck to her trusty WAVE serge, and to keep from getting dusty or mussed, was sitting at her desk, an open mailbag sat on the chair next to her desk. She'd cleared off the already neat-as-a-pin desktop, and had begun sorting her mail into tidy piles that nonetheless threatened to slip over into one another as they grew.
"How goes Operation Wonder Woman?" Steve asked as he hung his coat on the rack and looked down at the growing stacks of letters.
"Sir?" Diana asked, confused.
"You know, like 'Operation: Santa Claus,'" Etta said, trying to be helpful. "Something they started doing in New York about twenty years ago. People volunteer to answer all the letters to Santa Claus that end up in the dead letter office this time of year."
"Santa Claus?" Diana repeated, looking completely perplexed.
"You know, old Saint Nick?" Steve tried to jog her non-existent memory, as he took the bag from the chair next to Diana's desk and sat down. "Comes down the chimney with a bag full of toys for all the good boys and girls on Christmas morning?"
"Oh, of course," Diana said, quickly trying to cover her ignorance, "Saint Nick."
"So, what have we got?" Steve asked as he surveyed the stacks.
"Let's see, we've got kids here," Etta waved to the largest pile, "and theatrical agents here."
"There are a dozen or so letters from G.I.s I've been putting here," Diana said, gesturing to a small stack at the edge of her desk.
"Marriage proposals are here," Etta grinned as she held up a handful of letters.
"Marriage proposals?" Diana asked, aghast as she carefully sliced open a new envelope.
Steve chuckled, and pulling out a stack of letters, reached for a silver letter opener. "Well, you can hardly blame a guy, can you?"
"Oh Steve!" Etta laughed. "Should be keep an eye out for your address?"
"Now private Candy, that will be enough of that," he said with mock sterness, but his eyes were twinkling. "How 'bout you, Diana?" Steve looked over to see Diana's eyes wide as saucers, and she was blushing furiously from whatever she had just read in the letter she had just opened. He took the letter from her hand, glanced down at the envelope, noted the address and his mouth tightened into a grim line.
"Diana, any letter with an address from a prison, you just put in this pile. I'llÉ handle those."
"Thank you, sir," she said, her cheeks still pink.
"That goes for you too, Etta."
"You don't have to tell me twice, sir," Etta assured him as she dropped three of the letters from her stack on the new pile, unopened.
By mid-afternoon, Diana had dressed three paper-cuts—two of them Steve's, one of the Etta's, which had bled slightly on a three page letter from a G.I. stationed in Hawaii—and even with the three of them, they had only gotten down to the bottom of two of the heavy burlap mail sacks. The entire top of Diana's desk was covered with stacks of opened mail, and Etta had gone down to the file room to get some file boxes they could use, to store the sorted mail.
"So many people," Diana murmured. She had had no idea that Wonder Woman had made an impact on so many lives she had never touched directly—women who had written to thank her for helping to hasten the end of the war, so that husbands and fathers might return home earlier. Children wanting to know where she came from, what her lasso was made from, could she fly. Men like Ashley Norman, who wanted to put her on stage and book her into venues across the country, and make thousands of dollars. Men who weren't interested in putting her anywhere but in their own beds—letters which made her blush just thinking about them. Men couageously fighting a war on two fonts, looking for a photo or a post card, or some red white and blue dream girl to answer their prayers to bring a quick end to the war.
People she had never met face to face. People whose lives she had saved without ever know their names. People she would never meet. People who all felt enough of a connection with her to send a letter to a stranger who was even more of a stranger than they realised—not even an American, but a millennia year old Amazon who had only just recently arrived on their shores.
"Wonder Woman has a lot of admirers," Steve pointed out, brining Diana out of her reverie.
"And people who need her help," Etta added, holding up a letter written on lined newsprint. "Here, listen to this—Dear Wonder Woman,
I'm writing to ask if you can go to Okinawa so my dad can come home and not have to be on the ship where he is. My name is Eric, and I'm eight. He missed my birthday, and my mom says he'll be home in time for Christmas, but I think that it would be better if you could fight for him so he doesn't get shot and can come home.
"Jeez, that poor kid!" Etta said with a sigh as she put the letter in the ever increasing pile. "And there's dozens just like it! Listen to this one—it's just too cute."
Dear Mrs Wonder Woman,
My name is Kitty Wilcox, and I live in Baltimore. I am writing to you because I saw your picture in the paper. My mom says it's disgraceful, you going around with so little on, but I think that it's just swell and I would like it very much if you could come to Baltimore to visit me sometime. Mondays are very good, then maybe I could get out of having to go to school and we could have adventures."
Steve chuckled. "I have to admit, I certainly have enjoyed my share of adventures with Wonder Woman."
"I'm sure she's enjoyed them too, Steve," Diana said with a smile, but then her smile faded as she opened another envelope, and read the hand-written note inside. "Steve—I think you should listen to this one."Dear Wonder Woman,
My name is Jenny Blake, and I go to Jefferson Middle School. I think that my dad is in trouble. His name is Michael Blake, and last week he came home from work with a shiner. My mother told me it was none of my business, but my dad hasn't ever come home all roughed up before and I think she only yelled at me because she's scared. When I asked him about it, he yelled at me and sent me to my room. He's usually a really good dad. I'm awfully scared for him, and please can you come and help him?
"That poor girl!" Diana said as she finished. "I hope her father's all right."
Steve took the letter from her, and scanned the envelope. "It's over two months ago. Even if Wonder Woman could help, I don't know if there's anything she could do now."
"I suppose you're right, Steve," Diana said with a sigh, but she took the Blake letter from his hand and put it in a new pile. "Even so, I think we should make sure Wonder Woman sees it. In case she can help."