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Dear Antonio | A Short Story

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by Emily Ann Putzke

June, 1944

Dear Antonio,

Mama made cream cake tonight. The scent reminded me of your going away party. It tasted as bitter to me now as it did then. When I take a bite I think, “Antonio is living off army rations. I’m despicable eating this.”

I pushed it away. Mama looked offended. “Luci, you no like? You sick?”

“No, Mama. I’m just not hungry.”

She rattled off exasperations in Italian and Papa scolded her, “Marie! We use English in the household!” She continued speaking in Italian. You know Mama.

Antonio, I despise being the only child without you here. Yes, we fought a lot, but I’d rather put up with your dirty dishes, muddy footprints, and teasing ways then be all alone. You’ve always called me melodramatic. I used to take that as an insult.  But that very “flaw” is helping me remember you. I often find myself walking into your bedroom and sitting on the edge of your bed. Nothing has been changed since you left, except a few new wrinkles in your bedspread. I don’t think you’ll mind …you’re not the neatest person on this earth. Your stinky shoes are still where you kicked them off, a pair of pants lay inside out near your closet, while the cap of your cologne is sitting next to a half used bottle. Your desk is a paper hurricane, and there’s a note next to your bed with a late night scribble (I’m assuming from the poor penmanship) that reads, extra socks.  Did you remember to pack extra socks?

It’s lonely at the house, but it’s even lonelier when I go places without you. We went to Mass yesterday and your spot next to me remained empty. You always inspired me to be more holy and faithful. Your example of reverence and trust in our Lord still resonates me with. At least that hasn’t left me. I pour myself out to Him in a mixture of incoherent thoughts and prayers. I pray for you, Antonio. I pray hard.

I went to the movies last week. I felt so deserted walking by myself. Mama and Papa don’t care for movies, and I haven’t many friends in NYC. What a horrible time to move to the city, right when you were shipped off for Europe. Remember how we used to race to the theater? It was entirely unfair. You have longer legs which makes you the victor every single time. I like to remember your laughing brown eyes as you glanced over your shoulder yelling, “Hurry up slowpoke!” Then I’d punch you in the stomach when I caught up to you. You haven’t forgotten that have you? I never did tell you thank you for purchasing the popcorn that last movie showing. Remember how you spilled a bit on the theater floor and when I mentioned it to you, you shrugged and said, “That’s what the high school boys working here get paid to do. I ain’t doing their work. Let’s go.” I kept recalling Papa's famous saying, "Leave a place better than you found it." I felt like we were criminals.

I like to think about those days last summer when we sat on the fire escape and licked our melting ice cream cones. That’s when you started to tell me about wanting to join the army. Then a year later we sat in that same spot and you told me you were leaving for sure. I hated how sappy I was, tears trickling down my cheeks as I stared at my shoes.

“You’re dumb,” I told you.

“I know,” you said.

You’re not really dumb, Antonio. I didn’t mean it. I just didn’t know what to say … my heart hurt so much. I was a real brat to you from then on. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean the words I threw at you—stupid, idiot, dumb—please believe me. I wasn’t able to express my feelings in the right way. But the memory that stings the most is the day you left us. You looked real swell in your uniform. Your face was bright, your eyes filled with adventure, and you wore a mischievous smirk on your face. I glanced around at the other families gathered at the station. All the other men’s sisters were hugging and kissing them with tears in their eyes. I had my arms crossed with a scowl on my face. If I could go back in time, I’d change my attitude and tell that stupid Luci girl to snap out of it. But I can’t. I was as moody as they come. You tousled my hair and peered down into my eyes.

“What’s eatin’ you?” I remember you saying.

“Oh, just quit it.” Did I slap your arm? Sounds like something I would do.

“You’re a real sad sack, you know that?”

You made me angry, for I gritted my teeth and glared some more. “Just go.”

“Glad to be rid of me? Mama didn’t give you my room did she? I’m comin’ back you know!”

“Are you?”

“Plannin’ on it.”

Then you gave me a tight hug amidst my grumblings and tousled my hair once more. “Love you, Luci.” That struck something in me, Antonio, for although you’re my big brother and I know you love me, I don’t think I ever heard you say it before.

Then you left.

I imagine all sorts of adventures you must be having, inspired by newspaper articles on the advancement of the war, and books I’ve been reading. We pray a rosary for you every night. Mama and Papa have made an agreement regarding how we say it. Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays are in Italian. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday are in English.

This letter hasn’t been something to cheer you up. I’m sorry. I just miss you and I want you to know how much. I’ll be a nicer little sister when you come home. Please ... come home soon.

Finishing The First Draft (Newsies GIFs Style)

I've never done a blog post full of GIFs before, but the situation calls for it. Late on Monday night I finished the first draft of Resist. WHAT?! And although Resist has nothing to do with Newsies, I figured if I'm gonna do a blog post full of GIFs it has to be Newsies since I'm their biggest fangirl EVER. =)

So, here's how it went on Monday while finishing my first draft:

Me coming out of my room on Monday morning...

NOW IS THE TIME TO SEIZE THE DAY. Book, I'm comin' for ya.

Ain't We Got Fun Extras | Beautiful People


The scent of coffee filled the kitchen as I wiped the table after lunch. How the twins could make such a mess of a simple peanut butter sandwich would always remain a mystery to me. The peanut butter clung to the wooden table and chunks of bread were stuffed in the crevices of the chairs and scattered on the floor. I might need two pots of coffee to deal with this.
The back door opened and Will came in, hanging up his hat. I hurried over and wrapped him in a tight hug, planting a kiss on his cheek. “You’re home early, darling.”

“You smell like peanut butter,” he said with a smirk.

“So did Frederick and Lawrence before I stuck them both in the tub. Will, I swear they think peanut butter is paint.”

He grinned, then held my face in his hands and kissed me back. "Where are the boys now?"

      "Napping like angels."

      “I need your help with an assignment,” he said, pulling off his suit coat and rolling up his white shirt sleeves to his elbows.
“Really?” I said as I poured Will a glass of water. I slid it across the table to him, then poured myself a large mug of coffee.
“Yeah. It’s called ‘Sisterly Relationships’. You and Bessie are the perfect candidates. So, what do you say?”
“Sure, why not?”
“Oh, just don’t drink too much of that coffee before this interview, ok? Remember last time? You were like...like a crazy little squirrel or something. I had to run to keep up with you.”
I gaped. “What? And you still married me?”
His eyes twinkled. “Yeah. And I’m glad I did.”
“Oh, you’re very sweet Mr. Reeves,” I said, stirring the cream into the brew.
“As are you, Mrs. Reeves.”
I sat down next to him, wrapping my hands around the mug as a breeze danced through the window.
“All right,” Will said, testing out his pen on the paper. “Question one. What is your first memory of Bessie?”
I tilted my head and stared at the wall for a moment. “I remember Papa taking me up to their bedroom to see Mama and my new little sister. I recall singing in her face very loudly. Her face went red and she started crying. I was picked up and taken home because I knocked over Mama’s supper tray and I wouldn’t stop poking my sister’s face.”
“Oh, you were mean, Gi.”
“I know,” I shrugged. “What’s the next question? Hopefully something to redeem myself?”
“Describe your relationship in three words,” he glanced up at me as I went to fetch more coffee. “Gi!”
“What?” I asked, all innocence.
He shook his head at me, but I caught a grin on his face.
“Three words, huh? Let’s see–unpredictable, adventurous, and devoted.”
He wrote down my answers, took a sip of water, then continued. “What kind of things do you like to do together?”
“We like picnics, and wading in the creek. Also, running through the fields, reading books, picking on each other, going to the drive-in, making a mess while baking cookies, window shopping, eating hamburgers and milkshakes and talking about Tom. Oh! And one of our favorite pastimes is when one of us grabs Donny and the other tickles him until he cries ‘uncle’.”
“Poor kid.”
“It’s our duty, Will.”
“Yes. It’s a big sister duty. You wouldn’t understand.”
He coughed, attempting to hide a laugh. “What was your biggest fight? I’m a little nervous about this one.”
“Oh,” I tapped my feet on the floor. “That’s easy. The day I told Bess I was leaving for New York was our biggest fight. She was about to ruin everything by telling Mama and Papa and I wasn’t planning on telling them until the morning I left. We were in our bedroom when I told her, and she stood up and ran for the door to tell on me. I lunged at her and grabbed her ankle, which caused her to fall flat on the floor. I pinned her down and we exchanged some heated words and tears,” I laughed, thinking back. “It’s hard to imagine now.”
Will stared at me, an eyebrow raised.
“You pinned her down?”
“Yeah, what else was I suppose to do?”
“You pinned your little sister down?”
“Yes! Now can we move on to the next question and stop talking about how horrible I was?”
He scratched the back of his neck, “Yeah, ok. Um...how far would you go to save Bessie?”
“Now or then? Because back then I was ready to pack her off to an orphanage.”
“Oh, I’d do anything for Bess, Will. I’d even give up coffee if that would save her from harm.”
“You’re real sweet,” he teased.
“Well, I would! I’d take a bullet or even torture for her. I’d take it upon myself.”
“So a few years ago you’d have her shipped off to an orphanage, but now you’d lay down your life for her, is that correct? I don’t want to get it mixed up in the article.”
“You’ve got it.” I began tapping my fingers on the table.
“Gi, I’m going to take that coffee away if you don’t sit still.”
              I stopped my tapping and smiled at him.Ok, darling. I’ll be good.”

“What are your pet peeves about Bessie?”
“She’s too sensible.”
Will laughed. “Oh, what a fault!”
“Will, stop teasing me. What I mean is, she’s not adventurous enough. She’s a tattle tale, she’s too motherly with me, and she never lets Donny have any fun.”
“Harsh,” he said, scribbling it down.
“You asked.”
“What are your favorite things about her?”
“That’s a nicer question,” I grinned and took another sip of coffee. “She’s always looking out for everyone and places other’s needs before herself. She’s sweet and kind, and takes her responsibility seriously. I’d trust her with anything.”
Will grinned. “What traits do you share? Mannerisms, clothing, quirks, looks...those sorts of things.”
“Oh...I guess some of our facial expressions are similar. We both scrunch up our noses when we laugh. We’re both clumsy.”
“That’s true.”
“Will!” I slapped his arm and in the process, my coffee spilled all over my lap. I jumped up with a scream as it seeped through my dress.
“See?” Will said, snatching a towel from the drawer beside him. He cleaned off the table while I tried to clean off my dress.
“Who has the strongest personality?” he asked. “Wait...why am I even asking this?” He didn’t let me answer and quickly scribbled something down. I peeked over his shoulder and found my name as the answer. “How has your relationship changed over the years?”
I tossed the soiled towel in the hamper in the adjoining room, then sat down. “We’ve grown to understand each other and love each other more. Perhaps that comes with  growing up, but I tend to think it happened mostly through our heartfelt letters during those trying years. And I’m thankful for that.”
He smiled at me.
“Anymore questions?”
“Nope, that about wraps it up,” he said, gathering his papers. “I’m off to find out Bessie’s answers.” He kissed my cheek. “Love you, Gi. Don’t make any more coffee while I’m gone.”
“Oh! Now, Will, can’t we talk about this?”
Via Pinterest 
“Nope,” he plunged his arms through his coat and grabbed his hat. I was about to protest once again, but the twins came running into the room, their dark, tousled hair sticking up all over their heads. I wonder who they got that from? I watched as Will kneeled down and wrapped them in his arms. They began to talk at once and he listened attentively. I started thinking about Bess and Tom. If Tom hadn’t been sent overseas, they might have been married. But I was sure, in time, God would make it happen.


(Read Bess' interview HERE!)

Ain't We Got Fun will be in paperback and ebook on May 25th, 2015! Make sure to check back on April 13th for the cover reveal!


P.S. AWGF is now officially on Goodreads!

AIN'T WE GOT FUN Cover Reveal Date!

     It's hard to imagine that just three months ago, Emily Chapman, and I were first penning our Ain't We Got Fun letters. For those of you who are new to my blog, AWGF is a story about two sisters during the Great Depression and is written in letter style. Emily and I alternated posting our letters on our blogs throughout the month of January. We had so much fun writing it, and the feedback we got was so encouraging! We decided to start the processing of publishing it shortly after the series was done. And now we're getting ready to share the book cover with the world!!!

That's right.

April 13th is the cover reveal date for Ain't We Got Fun!!

Rachel Rossano has created a beautiful cover!! I can't wait for you all to see it!!

Here's where we need your help. We need people who will share the cover/book synopsis on their blog on April 13th. A perk of being a cover revealer? You get to the see the cover before the rest of the world. Pretty awesome, just sayin'. =) If you're interested, send an email to me or Emily!


Thank you in advance!!