The First One (1944)
Yesterday I got your letter card dated the 3rd of April. There was one from deb and another one from Mum, and of course, I had to read these first. And I could read yours only once, and then had to put it in my pocket, while my poor old head tried to cope with its content as far as I could remember. You have come at me with such terrific rush of warmth, and I am so very much in need of you.
Well, I washed and made my bed, it was six o’clock before I received your letter and fidgeted around. Then I thought, ‘I must read it again before I go to sleep’, so I pushed off to the latrine where the humblest may be sure of privacy and read your words again. The comic expression ‘It shakes me’ is true in a serious sense about this deeply thrilling state of well-being that you have caused or created.After I had re-read your letter, out came the chessman, and we played one game which I won before adjourning to the canteen to gather round wireless for the news, a rite in these surroundings. Then we were collared for Bridge which we played till ten o’clock. All the time, the only thing I wanted to do was read your words, this tiny part of you, again and again.
Back in the tent, and to bed. How impossible to sleep with thought and wonder of you hot within me. As I toss and turn and wriggle and writhe I think of you, probably doing the same. Isn’t it blooming awful? I know that if I think of you, I will not sleep, yet I keep on thinking of you, and get hotter and hotter. Phew! I could do with a couple of ice-blocks around me.
Finally to sleep. Up in the morning, my first thoughts, of your nearness and your distance from me, and the hope that I can race off this first six pages, to post this afternoon. Unfortunately there is no likelihood of my early return. I must be another year; I may be another three or four. Relax, my girl, or you’ll be a physical wreck in no time. Regard me as what you will, but don’t altogether forget circumstance, distance, environment. I do so joyfully, happily, eagerly, but you must have more sense.
In the film tonight there was a joke that the state of being in love was the happiest way of being miserable. So be miserable happily, don’t look over your shoulder too much, enjoy what is, so far as you can, and remember the old, wise tag ‘Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday’. I am a born worrier myself, but feel I could be all that you wanted me to be. Probably more important, I know that you are what I want, not in any limited sense, but in all. I want to confide in you. I want to creep into you. I want to protect you. That I am not capable is unimportant, what is significant is that you should think I am. My hands cannot caress you; my words strive hard to tell you all the things I dare. You spoke of yourself being ‘guilty of slobbering’, it’s no crime. I am proud of it. If your incoherent babbling mean what mine do, it’s jolly good. Don’t worry about being bounced out of favor, and try to grow out of this engulfed, nothing belongs to oneself feeling. Regard me as a promise rather than a threat, and pick holes in me where you can, so that I seem less regal. Remember we are both in this together, and that it has somehow occurred undesignedly, unrehearsed, because we had it in us. Yes, I wish that I was with you. But life is hard, wishing won’t make it easy. My thoughts are with you far too often for my physical serenity and my mental equilibrium. During the day I simply lap you up and cause trouble at night. Engulfed describes my state, too, a rather floundering, uncertain one.
I wonder what you look like. Don’t have a special photograph taken. I know you haven’t a bus-back face but I have never looked at you as now I would. I wonder how many times I have seen you, and how many we have been alone. Now my foolish pulse races at the thought that you even have a figure. I want, very much, to touch you, to feel you, to see you as you naturally are, to hear you. I want to sleep and awaken with you. I want to live with you. I want to be strong and I want to be weak with you. I want you.
I want my letters to be interest, so please let me know how and what you want me to write. On occasions, you’ll understand, I may not be in a position to write.
Let me know if you think I am mad. When my signature dries I am going to kiss it. If you do the same, that will be a complete unhygienic circuit.