Once more my friends. Into the breach.
I can't thank you enough for all the love and support you have given this story. With a thought and a feeling this last Memorial Day, I started this, so it seems so fitting that I honor our troops again by ending it on Veteran's Day.
Let us never forget.
Let us always pass the history on. In whatever manner works. I am so happy to have been able to share and hear so many stories from all of you as we wandered through time together.
Thank you for the memories.
I will never forget.
The war ended.
You could hear the shouts of hurrah from the streets, through the hospital. On the radio, in the homes of many.
From around the world it seemed.
But for Bella and Edward, their war had been over, the soldier had come home.
Edward continued to heal, but his wounds would never fully disappear. His vision cleared, but he would always see in flashes of color. He said he didn't mind most days, and Bella could tell by his smile when he'd catch her in full color.
The three sets of friends went on their way after the war, each marrying in a small ceremony as soon as Edward was released from the hospital. That fall saw many weddings, with the boys coming home wanting to forget their past and start again with a new future.
With the end of the war the country moved on to rebuild itself and thrive. The war had changed households, but as the men continued to come home to wives, mothers, families that had missed their sons and husbands, the world pushed on. Rationing continued until supplies replenished themselves from hard work of the ever-growing workforce.
Bella and Edward moved to Chicago, to his home there and settled down. He went to school and found a job working as a music teacher in his old high school, thanks to his principal. Bella went on to get her degree in library science, and found that if she had to be separated by work with Edward, the library was the place to be. With her war bonds maturing, a home to settle down in, it wasn't long before the first Masen came.
Rose and Emmett stayed in New York, Emmett finishing school with a mechanical engineers degree. He worked with the government to construct what would later become the lifesaver of many soldiers- he perfected the remote device, so that men could rely on information getting to them before having to rush into the fray. Rosalie continued her nursing education and streamlined exercises at the Cullen's hospital for returning vets.
Jasper and Alice set up Jasper's lifetime dream of working on a cattle range in Texas. It was a struggle, with fewer people willing to hire a veteran with his vision impaired. But with Jaspers charm and Alice's tenacity, they soon found the means to start their own farm, becoming the leading beef distributor in Texas.
Every year, they would come together in New York, to remember where their lives began. It was the only time the men ever spoke of their time over seas, and most of the time it was after several beers and over cigars. As children came into the fold, stories changed, and battles were glossed over. But the men never talked about it on their own. The women knew this was their own special therapy. They managed the year with nightmares and occasional kneejerk reactions to noises. Because they knew their yearly treks would do the men good.
Korea came, calling for the countries men again. And by luck of the past, their men didn't go. Colorblindness, spatial deprivation and a steel hip kept them on the home front. But the trio supported their brothers and rallied for a quick war. War news and the ever present feeling of a nation at war brought more nightmares and fears at night, but the men's wives carried on, providing the calm and safety that they had needed back then.
Children grow, a country flexes its muscles. Times change.
Sons and daughters of the Greatest Generation grew to view the world a little differently.
With the sixties came a more rebellious attitude at the country's actions.
Bella and Edward watched as their sons went off to war, and as their daughters rebelled and took up the mantle of peace. The Whitlocks lost their only son in Cambodia. The McCarty's lost a son in protest riot at Kent State. Their yearly trip to New York became more difficult as children wanted to go to other places, and couldn't understand the need to visit every year. But the trio withstood the changes in their country, standing firm to the belief that their men had fought and won against tyranny.
Times change, memories are lost. History glosses over the old days in favor of the new innovations and promise of a better life. Wars change, some lasting a few days, others never even called wars but still the men and women go to fight. Flags raised high in support along streets, but people continue their daily life, and sometimes forget the past and how it was.
Instant news on the internet and on the one hundred channels drown out the purpose of the fight. Make it something of background noise for many. But the men and women on the front face the same fears, and those left behind to wait on their return still wait with a troubled heart.
History is written down in books, made into movies to resurge the interest in the past, and life continues.
Bella lived a full life with her husband, never leaving his side until her death. He went shortly after, refusing to remain when his angel left him. They lived a quiet life, spending every moment they could with one another and the five children that they raised. An argument here and there over soup, a grumbling at the cold, but their love was evident until their last breaths.
Once a year, the Masens would come to the house, now occupied by Edward Jr. and visit the graves. Children and grandchildren filled the house, and the memories and history would come back every time. Their sons would recite with solemn respect their father's history as a paratrooper, glossed over with time and the patience of the children at their feet. The hallways kept the photos through the years, and grandchildren would point and ask about Grandpa and Grandma often.
Pictures were everything to the Masens.
As well as letters.
History survives by the retelling.
Which may be why young Bella Stevenson, granddaughter and namesake for her grandmother discovered the treasure in the attic.
Sent to find the decorations for the tree, she stumbled on a footlocker.
Dusty, and tucked into the corner of the loft, it looked to be well forgotten. Curiosity for the unknown was always her weakness. She hoped to go to school in the fall and learn to write novels. What a mystery the old footlocker presented.
She pulled her earbuds out of her ears and knelt down before the old dusty thing. The latch gave way easily, and as the dust filtered through the single light above her, she eyed the contents with an excitement like an archeologist discovering the lost tomb of a long dead pharaoh.
"Mom!" she shouted, tracing her fingers over the bundles of letters at the top.
She heard the ladder creak behind her and noticed her sister peek her head in.
"What did you find?"
Vanessa was always just as curious as Bella when it came to their grandparents house. They would spend hours in the old closet trying on her old dresses.
"I think these are Grams," Bella said and motioned her sister over.
The two of them sat in reverence in front of the locker, marveling at the number of letters and trinkets lay inside. Gingerly, Bella pulled out the most worn bundle of letters, eyeing the writing on them.
"They're addressed to an EA Masen," she said and squinted at the date. "It's during the war."
Ness' eyes lit up and she hugged herself.
"Do you think they're the love letters?"
They heard the ladder creak and jumped at being discovered, sighing when they saw their mother slip up to steps. She sat down next to them and took the bundle from Bella's hands with great care, a wistful look on her face as she spoke to her daughters.
"These are very precious, and not to be handled unless you can understand what it was to read and write these back then," she started.
The girls nodded eagerly, Ness going so far as to sit on her hands to keep from touching them.
"Your Grandpa carried these with him while he fought. Letters to him from a pen pal back home," their mother began.
"Grams," Bella said, smiling.
Their mother nodded and continued.
"It was his protection while he fought. They had never met before writing to one another, but found love through these letters…."
Their mother recounted the story she had heard many times from her mother and the girls listened in rapt attention as the story of Bella and Edward Masen was retold.
Hope and faith in a time of uncertainty.
Loss so unimaginable to the girls as they cried at the idea that their Gram had lost her love.
Shaking with excitement at the story of a mystery soldier, so much like their Grandpa.
And the happily ever after that came when they discovered one another finally.
"They fell in love with one another through these letters, but grew to know one another through being strangers," their mother said and wiped at her tears.
"And that's her locket," Bella said, pointing to the necklace on her mother's neck.
Her mother looked down and shook her head, pressing the locket to her breast.
"No, that is with Gram. She wouldn't ever part with it, even after she passed. Grandpa wouldn't allow it. She carried his heart with her," she replied. "But Grandpa gave all his girls lockets. So I have Grandpa's heart too."
"And she wrote all these letters to him?" Vanessa asked, looking into the chest.
Their mother nodded.
"Almost every day she wrote to him, for over a year."
"Is that the picture?" Bella asked and gently pulled out an old photograph from the chest.
It was crinkled and battered, creases where it had been crushed many times.
But the picture was still clear.
Bella Swan smiling shyly to the camera on a beach, the joy in her eyes obvious.
"That's Gram when she started writing. She was thinking of him when the picture was taken."
Bella traced the picture carefully, noting every curve and line of the photograph.
How romantic it must have been then.
Falling in love by letters.
A different time, what with email and texting the norm these days.
But still. The weight of the letter.
More carefully thought out.
Bella and Ness spent hours reading them.
Those letters to Corporal Masen, and fell into a love story they had only thought they knew.
Their grandparents had been old when they died, but you could still see the love they felt for one another. Holding one another's hand had seemed so quaint when Bella had seen them together. And the kisses.
She smiled fondly as she laid the bundles back into the chest and closed it up. Ness had long departed, finding the amount of reading daunting. But Bella had remained.
Cried and smiled at the history laid out before her.
And fell in love right along with her Gram.
As she walked down to her room, she wondered what people did these days for letter writing to soldiers. A quick search on her laptop yielding several options.
She sat there at her desk, contemplating.
Did she even have paper?
She knew where there was some.
Which is were she found herself hours later, pen poised over the single paper on her Gram's old writing desk.
What to say?
How did Gram start hers?
She nodded and put pen to paper. It was a start. Who knew where it would lead.
But it was her time now.
December 12th, 2012
My name is Bella…..
AN: It's hard to write when you're a bawling mess. I want to thank you all for reading and pimping. Supporting this story as you did was the most cherished thing for me. Your kind words, your stories and your input made this such a wonderful experience.
I'll be posting a pdf version of this sometime soon, with all the wonderful banners readers made and picture inspiration for each chapter and more condensed history lessons at the footnotes of every chapter (pulling out my babbling in the process)
When I have it ready, I'll post it on FB and on twitter. you can follow me on FB at Holdme Ransom, and on Twitter Holdmeransom
There is a FB group as well with pics and stories and tidbits. Search for Letters to Corporal Masen to find it. :)
Thank you again for reading, and one last pimp before I depart:
Robsmyyummy Cabanaboy has a new Militaryward out. It is incredibly moving and I hope that if you are in search for more love of our servicemen (and Edward), you'll give it a try. It's sad at first, but she promises happier times coming up!
It is called Tip of the Spear by Robsmyyummy Cabanaboy
www DOT fanfiction DOT net/s/8677928/1/Tip-of-the-Spear
Love to all of you on this Veteran's Day. Take a moment to thank a soldier.
And maybe volunteer or write a letter. It will mean the world to them.