A Page Or Two of Love, Straight From Honeysuckle Road
I believe a writer ought to work out loud some. Letting a reader or two peer into the tale even before the writer knows fully where it’s headed turns the writer’s solitude into community. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the quiet alone time with my imagination, but as a writer, I like to be … neighborly.
So, here’s a little hole in the fence of my novel, The Sinners of Honeysuckle Road. This is a love letter written by an 18 year old on the coast of North Carolina in 1968. She writes to her boyfriend, Graham, giving him the note on his 18th birthday as part of a grand public, and private, celebration. She’s soon headed to Duke. He’s just enlisted, bound for Vietnam.
Read this and tell me if it rings with the tonic chords of a young woman so far into love there’s no escape. Tell me if such a letter might help sustain a boy into his manhood, and through his tragedy and elation to come on two shores.
Thanks, ya’ll. And, yes, they’re daringly naked when he reads this. They 18 in 1968. They’re having the big time we all want in our lives, at 18 and beyond!
“My dearest Graham,
You will read this in the presence of a naked girl who will forever wear the presence of you. You strong, beautiful boy, here on your birthday, and on your every day to come, I will love you. I will love the eternity of you.
When we made love in the church and you grew afraid, remember what I said? I believed out loud that many go to altars and get themselves wedded to one another for life. But few get chosen for the rare gift that is their life’s heaven-fated love. I have felt it early. I have felt it, known it, like a charge from the deep. As if stars fell upon my tender womanhood, at my dawning. I’ve dreamt, more than once, that you fell out of the hand of God and tumbled into me. Exploded into the billion little diamonds that stream and haunt and light my blood. They rain into my dreams and flow through my waking, and I have no shelter. No shelter from you. I’m a happily naked girl soaked in the nature of young and gentle man. In the sweet, hard cosmic shower of our good fortune. Soaked in happiness is what I am. Happy that heaven has sent such a storm onto a girl’s heart.
When you take to your bed soon on the other side of the world, where wickedness and being afraid creep around jungles and the thoughts of boys, please read this again. Read it so much you tatter it. For I want you reminded that God made a home for you inside me. In my heart, I will shelter you. A world away, a billion miles off, yet there I am — your strong house by the sea. Door forever open, the air sweetened and salted by fresh-made love inside. I pray this will help carry you through. On the swings and lawn of loving one another, we will romp, always.
See, we are never so terribly far away. We are but a warm, moist thought away from one another.
And finally, please remember this. Many boys masquerade as men, and too few men are truly good. Momma says so, and so do I. She and I think it so lovely that I get to adore one of the rare good men. Tender and strong, with the heart of a kind boy. Please make that last. Make yourself last as long as you can. And when you come home, we will make something lovely of ourselves.
Happy birthday, love. To say I love you is the gift this, your birthday, gives to me.
Across your ages, I am forever your Tess. God knows I am your love.”