A/N: I know, I should be working on The Wind and the Rain. And I am. But I just have to write this while the idea is still fresh in my mind, or I'm liable to forget about it completely. I don't know if this idea has been done before; I don't think I've seen any similar stories here at FFNet. But if such a story exists, I apologize for my inadvertent plagiarism. If not, please enjoy.

Disclaimer: M*A*S*H and Charles Emerson Winchester (the Third) are property of their creators. This is merely an homage to both.

Dear Doctor Winchester

a M*A*S*H pastiche

by Bad Octopus

Dear Dr. Winchester,

Thank you for answering my letter. I'm really glad you liked the leaf I sent. I'd send you some more, but most of the trees are bare right now. So instead, I'm sending you a seashell I found on the beach. It's called a periwinkle.

You have very pretty handwriting, but it's a little hard to read, so I had to ask my teacher to read it to me, and to explain all the big words. You seem really smart. Then again, I guess you would have to be smart to be a doctor. That's why I'm being very careful not to spell any words wrong. I don't want you to think that I'm just another dumb fourth grader who doesn't care about school, because I do. I try to get good grades, because I want to be a teacher when I grow up.

I've never had a doctor for a pen pal before. The only doctor I really know at all is my family's doctor. I don't like getting check-ups. They make me nervous. But Dr. Pierce tells jokes to try to make me less afraid. I don't think his jokes are all that funny, but I guess he does, because he always laughs at them. His laugh is so silly that I can't help laughing, too! He really is nice, though. He's the father of Dr. Benjamin Pierce, who works at your hospital. You probably know him. Are you friends with him?

You said in your letter that you were from Boston. That's where the Old North Church is, isn't it? We just learned about Paul Revere and his midnight ride. That's why I remember it. Someday I want to travel all over the world, but I would probably miss Crabapple Cove if I was away for too long. But I think I would like to see Boston. You make it sound so nice.

You also said that you like to listen to music to pass the time, when you're not healing the soldiers who get sent to your hospital. I like music a lot, too. I haven't heard of most of the people you listen to, except for Mozart and Beethoven. But they're pretty good. For my last birthday, my aunt took me to see a ballet called "Swan Lake". The dancing was all right, and the costumes were really pretty, but what I liked most of all was the music. It was like it was telling a story. I'm saving up to buy the record, so I can listen to it any time I want. I think the man who wrote it was named Tchaikovsky.

I like to read a lot, too. My big sister calls me a bookworm, which is kind of annoying, but I don't care. I think I could probably read books all day. My favorite books are "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", "The Secret Garden", and "Around the World in Eighty Days". My goal is to read everything that Jules Verne ever wrote. What are your favorite books?

My teacher said something strange when she read your letter to me. She said that you seemed sad. I'm not sure about that, but I'm very sorry if you are. It must be hard being so far away from your home and from the people who love you. I know I wouldn't like it one bit. But I'm sure they miss you very much, and can't wait to see you again. I hope the war in Korea doesn't go on much longer. My mom always says that people can't stay mad at each other forever. Maybe the North Koreans and South Koreans will work out their differences, so that you and all the rest of the doctors and nurses and soldiers can go home.

I don't want you to be sad. You have a kind heart.

That's why this Sunday I'm going to ask our pastor, Reverend Williamson, to pray for all of the people in your MASH to be safe. I wouldn't want you or your friends to get hurt.

Maybe this joke will cheer you up. Dr. Pierce told it to me. When does Friday come before Thursday? In the dictionary!

I didn't think it was that funny. But you might.

Please take care of yourself. And thank you again for your letter.

Your Friend,

Virginia Madsen

A/N: This, of course, is based on the episode "Letters", from Season Nine, which is one of my favorites. If you'll recall, the episode ended with Klinger unloading a bag full of more letters from Crabapple Cove. I like to think that one of them was from Virginia, whose letter and its enclosed birch leaf had such a profound effect on Charles.

Liked it? Didn't like it? Either way, let me know. Thanks!

-Bad Octopus