~ December 4, 1944 ~
Elizabeth giggled and rolled her eyes. “Mr. Holden, you’re being ridiculous as usual.”
Jake Holden waggled his finger at his waitress and favorite person. “Mark my words, Bethie. When this war is over, you’re going marry that boy.”
“I’ve known that boy for all of five months. Three letters and a postcard,” Elizabeth said, her eyes sparkling, “do not mean anything.”
“Uh huh,” Mr. Holden murmured. “And how many have you written him?”
Elizabeth didn’t even blink. “Three a week,” she said, matter-of-factly. “But only because I don’t know if any actually reach him. I figure the more I write, the more likely a letter will get to him.”
“Just don’t forget your promise, Bethie,” Mr. Holden reminded her.
“And which promise would that be, Mr. Holden?” Elizabeth drawled, flipping through the stack of mail that the postman had left on the counter.
“First of all, girly, it’s Jake and secondly, that when you marry that boy, I give you away.”
“All right, Jake,” Elizabeth laughed. “I promise you that I will let you give me away if I ever marry Jason.” She pulled a letter from the stack and her eyes lit up. “Speaking of Jason…”
“I suppose that’s four letters and a postcard, eh, Bethie?”
Elizabeth ignored him and ripped the letter open, turning away from the rest of the diner to read it.
November 15, 1944
I just wrote you yesterday, but Sonny was going on and on about Brenda again and I made my excuse of writing to you to get away. I decided if I was going to use it as an excuse, I might as well write.
We haven’t seen any action yet and I guess that’s blessing just as well as a curse. Some of the guys can’t wait to start fighting and I guess they got a point. We’re here to fight, so might as well do it.
This is gonna sound silly but I was wondering if you’d send me a picture. I don’t really want to get into the reasons why because well…they’re kind of embarrassing.
Elizabeth looked up from the letter and smiled to herself. She turned to serve Mr. Holden, who grinned at seeing the sparkle in her eyes.
“Good news, Bethie?”
“Good news,” Elizabeth confirmed. She smiled. “He wants me to send him a picture.”
“Now, I told you, Bethie, that he was a good man, didn’t I?”
“Now, don’t make me tell you again,” Mr. Holden threatened.
Elizabeth smiled and shook her head. “I’m sorry. Jake. You didn’t even speak with Jason. How would you know if he were a good man or not?”
“He took a liking to you, didn’t he?” Mr. Holden declared. “Smart man.”
“Okay. Well, I’d better go see to my customers.”
~ December 25, 1944 ~
“Mail call!” Johnny called out. He grinned. “I’ve got ten for Sonny,” he said, tossing the pack to the dark-haired man. “Eight for Zander. Seven for me.” Johnny paused and raised his eyebrows. “And gentlemen, we now have a new record for most letters received at a given time.”
Sonny glared at him. “What? Somebody broke my record?”
“Yup,” Johnny proclaimed. “I’ve fourteen for Jason.” He tossed the thick packet to the blonde across the room. “Looks the waitress had some time on her hands in the last six weeks.”
Jason scowled and decided to ignore Johnny for the rest of the day. He slit open the earliest dated later from late in October. It seemed that her letters were dated pretty close together, but came at different times. He’d gotten one from early in November the previous week.
Her letters were always full of news from the small town. She chatted about people he’d never met before like Courtney Quartermaine whose husband was in Europe or Ned Ashton who was dating her friend Caroline. She made sure to include some of Jake Holden’s stories about his late wife, Sadie and always ended the letters the same way, Love, Elizabeth.
She mentioned in one of the letters that she was writing three times a week simply because she wanted to ensure her letters would arrive to him. She worried about them getting lost sometimes.
She always made sure to tell him to be careful, reminding him the free meal she’d promised him once he returned. He had to smile when he’d read that. Like she already knew that Jason planned on returning to Port Charles rather than his hometown of Wilmington.
He opened her last letter and smiled when he took out a picture. She and two of her friends were sitting at a table outside of the diner. She was sitting in the middle, a broad smile on her face, her eyes sparkling. On either side sat a blonde, one with long hair and an apron. He assumed this was Courtney, the waitress she spoke of. The second blonde had shorter hair and dressed a little less casually. He assumed it was Caroline. He turned the picture over. Caroline, Elizabeth and Courtney. August 1944.
“You got a picture?” Zander asked, leaning over the top of the bunk. Jason sighed and passed it to him. “Cool, which one is she?”
“The brunette in the middle,” Jason replied.
“She’s pretty. Hey, this one looks like Emily’s cousin’s girlfriend,” Zander said.
“Caroline?” Jason asked.
“Yep. You ever met her?” Zander asked.
“Nope, but Elizabeth talks about her a lot,” Jason answered. “Can I have it back now?”
“What? Oh, yeah, sure.” Zander passed it back. “Hey, you ever ask her if she knows Emily?”
“Nah. Never got around to it. I’ll have to do it in the next letter,” Jason replied.
Zander was about to reply when the door to the large room was shoved open and a lieutenant appeared. “Men, let’s go! Some Jap planes have been sighted in the distance!”
Jason jumped to his feet, the picture of Elizabeth sliding to the ground along with some of her letters.
~ February 13, 1944 ~
Elizabeth stared at the pile of mail, not making a move towards it. Mr. Holden eyed her warily. “Bethie, the letters ain’t gonna bite.”
“If I don’t go through them, I don’t have to realize that there’s no letter from Jason. And if I don’t know there’s no letter from Jason, I don’t have to continue to be worried sick.” Elizabeth chewed her lip.
Mr. Holden reached for the stack and started to go through them. “Bethie, sometimes you just over dramatize things.” He frowned. “Well, this here is a personal letter for ya, but it ain’t from your soldier.”
“Who’s it from?” Elizabeth asked.
“A Private Zander Smith–”
Elizabeth snatched the letter from his hands and ripped it open; feeling dreadful and hoping like hell this letter wasn’t going to end badly.
January 1, 1945
Dear Miss Webber,
You don’t know me, but I’m a friend of Jason’s. I figured you’d get worried if he didn’t write you and he probably won’t be able to.
Well, that sounds kind of ominous. He’s not dead, he’s just been injured. On Christmas Day, some Japs attacked our carrier and Jason got hit some shrapnel and debris from a plane. He was out for a few days and hurt pretty bad. He’s being shipped to California to the military base in Los Angeles. He’s been in and out of consciousness, so he’s been in no position to write you as of yet.
I made sure to pack all your letters and the pretty picture you sent to him. He saved every one of your letters, so I made sure they were sent home with him. I’m including the address of the military hospital where they’re taking him if you want to write.
Jason always spoke highly of you, and I know he thinks you’re great. I hope everything turns out all right.
Private Alexander Smith
P.S. Do you know an Emily Quartermaine? She’s my girl and I was just wondering seeing as how you knew Ned. Tell her that I love her and I can’t wait to come home to her.
Elizabeth lowered the letter and bit her lip, closing her eyes.
“Bethie?” Mr. Holden asked, concerned. “Is everything all right?”
“He’s alive,” Elizabeth said, shakily. She took a deep shuddering breath. “This is from one of his friends. There…there was a battle or something and Jason was injured. He was sent to a hospital in Los Angeles.”
“Well, he’s going to be okay, right?” Mr. Holden demanded. “You still owe me that promise.”
She managed a small smile. “I know, Mr. Holden. I think he’s going to be okay, but wouldn’t he have written by now?”
“It’s Jake and there must be a good reason for that,” Mr. Holden decided. “You’ve got only one course of action, Bethie.”
“I’m going to write him now,” Elizabeth promised.
“Uh uh, that’s not good enough,” Mr. Holden told her. “You need to go to the hospital.”
“Go to the hospital?” Elizabeth repeated. “But it’s in California!”
“What’s your point?” Mr. Holden asked.
“It’s three thousand miles away!” she sputtered. “And I can’t leave Kelly’s!”
“Pshaw,” Mr. Holden told her. “That Quartermaine girl can take care of it for a little while. And I bet that soldier of yours would love to see a familiar face.” He grinned. “Seeing as how he ain’t got no other family.”
She glared at him. “You’re doing a guilt trip on me, aren’t you, Mr. Holden?”
“Damn straight. Has it worked yet?”
She turned around and headed for the phone. “I’ll call Courtney,” she grumbled.
I’m loving Jake and his concern for Liz and Jason. I like that you are linking some of the characters know each other.