chapter 23

A Letter From Home

       Miles knew he was not looking into the same eyes. It took him a few seconds but eventually he got it.

       They loaded the mail and Miles saw the distraction which now made this phase of the day go by rote. 

       And Celia had her new eyes trained on Miles, when he was not looking, of course.

       By the time Mr. Stephens was loaded, both people were aware of the other being aware of something but neither sure what.

       “Oh, I left out an important and unusual piece. See if you know the address.” Miles handed Celia a single thin envelope. She scanned for the address without looking at the name, which had become her habit but in an instant she was frozen in her tracks by the unmistakable and perfect cursive of her mother. The address was hers and so was the name. There was no return address. Not that it needed one. 

       “Midtown west! You have fancy friends back east I’d say.” Miles beamed.

       Celia stared blankly at Miles so to let him know she understood that he, from the zip code on the post mark, had deduced what neighborhood in Manhattan was the source of this letter. Miles knew he was caught out in the open a bit but he did so enjoy being appreciated for being a super genius. Anything that caused Miles to smile too broadly generally was a mistake.

       “Thank you Miles, see you on the other side.”   

       Celia left the office, jumped in the jeep and took off. Miles tried

  to whistle “I’ll take Manhattan” but stopped when bits of breakfast

  rained on the clean polished counter top. 

 

       There was a Willow-shaded intersection at the crotch of 3 planting fields that Celia discovered early on to be a pleasant enough spot to quietly enjoy her lunches. The expanse of yellow radiating through every sense from the fields beaming sunflower had become for the urban expat mail lady, the view of views of views.

       “My darling daughter,”

       So began this clearly all business letter. Celia anticipated it like ants at the picnic. It was more like a bear. A large hungry bear.

       So Petra says, the brief few profiles sent initially were almost adequate but ceased coming after the first week. This was somewhat counter contractual but it was now irrelevant because the project was just moving forward. Petra requested Celia come home briefly as soon as possible, and become fully apprised of the project as it was already in motion. Her air fare was already arranged and as soon as she could get to the “air strip” and hop on a crop duster, she need do just that.

       Without knowing how the thing would play out, Celia knew she had reached the pinnacle of the Aristotelian arc she had studied to death in more years of drama education than she now cared to recall. She really felt it, head to toe, like a one-gulp espresso on a cold hungover early call morning. Suddenly, all the inspirational poetry and countless monologues of countless heroic characters appeared far below while she soared her first time upon untested wings.    

       Toward the end of her route she swung by Penny’s and explained there had been a death in the family and would need to fly back east for a few days. Could she give her a ride to the “airport” for which she would happily cover the gas?

       “Why sure cowgirl, was it somebody close to ya?”

       Miles received the same story, and Thursday afternoon after her shift, Celia and Penny mounted the pickup and were bouncing across the prairie toward the nearest airport 75 miles away.

    

       Celia had entertained a variety of snares to expose Penny on this 2 hour transit to the plane but when she threw her overnight bag and beloved jacket on the seat between her and the driver, Celia resolved that the crop reports, Christian radio, a flask of Bourbon, and Penny’s penetrated veils of deception would be the only entertainment for this ride.

  "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."