by Ken Grobe
May 10th, 1863
To My Beloved Nathaniel,
I yearn for the day we win this damned war against the Union and you are returned home to me. Each day I miss you more than I thought possible. I fear that my poor heart will fairly explode from the longing I feel.
I realize you are quite busy protecting the Confederacy, but I received your most recent letter and was surprised by its brevity. It read simply, “Yo. You up?”
I asked daddy if it might be some sort of secret code, in case the Union intercepts the mail. He just said, “Oh, it’s code, all right” and took to cleaning his gun.
I for one am pleased to tell you that yes, I am “up,” though we often turn in early as we are conserving lamp oil for the war. I wait eagerly for your next letter.
All my love,
September 22nd, 1863:
My Desperately Adored Nathaniel,
The days we remain apart drag ever on, and the nights even more so. I did receive your last, extremely terse communiqué, in which you wrote, “Send a pic.”
I apologize for my tardiness in complying, but the only portrait artist daddy could find was wounded in Antietam and had to re-learn painting with his remaining hand. I hope the cherrywood frame is sturdy enough to bear the travel by horse.
I mentioned to daddy that I might just ask you to send me a “pic” in return, and he immediately took to target practice on our back forty.
All my affection,
January 12th, 1864
My Dearest Nathaniel,
When your delivery came, I nearly fainted: A photograph! An actual battlefield daguerreotype from the man I love!
At least, that’s what daddy says it was. He insisted on looking at it first, whereupon his face turned white and he refused to show it to me. He assured me that such a scientifically accurate rendition of you might be too much for my young heart.
Daddy even offered to return the photo to you himself. Please don’t worry for his safety, darling, for he took both hunting rifles, and that large knife he uses to castrate the mules.
I do hope I’ll see a photograph one day. Isn’t modern technology exciting?
My deepest love, your soon-bride-to-be,
Ken Grobe doesn’t have a serious bone in his body, an unnerving result of surgery after a tragic banana-peel accident. He’s penned short stories for Penguin books, sketches and short films for San Francisco’s Killing My Lobster, and an obscene amount of ad copy for rent. He’s performed at CBGB, Joe’s Pub, and on THE NEW GONG SHOW. Don’t ask.