Editor’s Note: Camilla Franklin, a 19-year-old intern at 826 Seattle, has selected some excellent work that 826 students are producing this summer to share with us on Push To Talk. This is the first installment in that series.
Camilla says: This story finds unexpected moments of humor in what could easily be a darker topic. It’s charmingly framed and tightly-written, and it nicely incorporates details from the original conversations that inspired it.
(A story inspired by the life of Yonase’s senior citizen pen pal at University House Retirement Home)
It was 7:00 on a winter evening in Seattle. It was raining as usual. I, Jim Ward, had ordered a pepperoni pizza. The pizza delivery boy, Yonase, who was 13, came to University house to deliver it.
“Yonase! You’re a pizza delivery guy?” I said.
“Maybe,” Yonase said.
I looked in the box. “And half the pizza’s gone?”
“Maybe,” he said. “Let’s not fuss about that right now. Tell me about your life.”
“It was on this same day, December 14th, in 1944. I was 18 and I was drafted into World War II. It changed my life dramatically even to this day. I was miserable because I had to give up my whole life for war. I had a family and a very important girl. I met this girl when my family and I moved to Arizona from Detroit, Michigan. We moved because my dad got offered a new job in Arizona. On this day, December 14th I was shipped to Palawan Island to fill in for the lost soldiers. I was okay with this move for a while because I had been training for months, no big deal I thought, but it all changed. It was 3:04 A.M and it was pitch dark. This day scared me for the rest of my life. You may ask why. Well on that day all the troops and I walked straight into an ambush. I wasn’t too scared until the guy right next to me, my good friend Bob, got shot in the earlobe. Bob always wanted to get his ears pierced but not this way. I mean you can’t get it pierced when your whole earlobe’s shot off. The ambush started like this, there were bullets flying everywhere and grenades exploding at our feet. We were looking for safety and that’s when the Philippine soldiers aimed at Bob and I. I ran for cover, but Bob was not fast enough. He aimed at them but he failed to get an accurate shot, that’s when he tried to reload and was shot unexpectedly in the earlobe. I saw it all happen before my eyes, my best friend my right hand man was shot in the ear. To this day Bob is deaf.”
“Wait what happened with this ‘important girl’ if you know what I mean?”
“Well, Yonase I forgot to mention that through the course of this war we wrote nonstop to each other. I realized that I loved her. I was ready to go back home and marry her. In one of the letters she told me that she loved me, I was surprised that she did because there were a lot men back home in Arizona. I told her in the letter that if I make it out alive that we could be together and get married.”
“What happened when you got home? Did you guys get married?”
“Yes we did get married. We got married right away, we didn’t want to waste any more time.”
“Wait, is that Bob over there?”
“Yes that is Bob.”
“Wow that’s so cool that you’re living with your best friend from war.”
“Yeah, that is pretty cool.”
“Thank you for telling me this amazing story about your life.”
Yonase Geleta is a sixth grader at Seattle Academy who enjoys bicycling. This is his first year in 826 Seattle’s Pen Pal Club.