Stepping into the tent a few nights later, I found some of the squad playing poker. As soon as their eyes landed on me, the competitive game was abandoned. I was carrying another package from the mailroom. The top was open and the grin on my face gave evidence as to what lay inside.
“Hell, yeah!” Roger shouted, first out of his chair. Rushing over, he looked at me with basset-hound eyes, begging, “Please tell me those are from James’ sister.”
The others soon surrounded me, their greedy hands out as we divided up the goodies. His mouth full of cookie, Jacob asked, “Why’s she sending you stuff?” Swallowing, he added quickly, “Not that I’m complaining!”
Shrugging, I said, “I guess she just wants to keep feeding her brother’s friends.” Unwilling to add that she had included another letter to me, I let them simply appreciate the treats.
As they finished eating and went back to their game, I slipped outside to re-read her letter. I had just written her one in return but had not mailed it yet, wondering what I could offer. My heart ached reading her words again.
I’m afraid you will think of me as a stalker if I keep sending cookies, but baking James’ favorites makes me feel better and I certainly don’t need to eat them all. So, if I bake to feel less sad, then I’ll send them to you to enjoy.
I dreamed of James last night, only it wasn’t the usual dream of when we were kids. He was in his uniform and driving a truck. I have no idea why I saw him that way because in real life, I never saw him at his work with the Army. I still think of him first thing when I wake up and he is the last thing I think of when I go to sleep at night. I suppose that is why he is in my dreams. Does it sound weird to say that I don’t mind these dreams? It’s like I want any part of him…even if it is just in my imagination.
I promised myself I would keep this short, so I’ll say goodbye. Enjoy the cookies.
Heaving a sigh, I thought of Alicia’s sadness and wished I could make her happier. I knew then, I would mail the letter the next morning. If all I had to offer were words about her brother to give her comfort, then that was what I’d do. God knows, her letters were giving me peace.