I don’t think anybody had expected this, especially not either of us. War? Your sudden departure for the frontlines (though I do not know if you actually are on the frontlines—nobody has said a thing to me about it. I rather hope you aren’t on the frontlines)? This wasn’t what we had planned for. We were supposed to spend your twenty-sixth in Merioneth, and now the pair of us have missed it while you have been away.
Though I do hope you managed to celebrate at least a little. I have no idea what the war is like where you are, but a part of me is envisioning some small few minutes spent wishing you well. If that didn’t happen, please don’t tell me; let me keep my one happy thought of this. I just sat in bed for the entire morning and missed you.
Also, forgive me for not writing sooner. This is the first chance I have been able to write you one. Which is rather horrible, considering it has been a whole month of you being away.
I miss you so much, Ianto. This is the longest we have been apart in a very long time, and I hate every moment of it.
I have been, as you might have guessed, set up with Tommy again. Things are going better than they had the first week, but I still find that there are things he does that I do not like. Perhaps it is just because I do not like how he does them, or perhaps it is because I miss when you did them instead. I don’t know. It’s messing with my head somewhat. Missing you, I mean. Missing you is doing my head in.
And, as a side note, I’ll have you know I also enlisted, but I was denied. How ridiculous. And infuriating. What’s wrong with me? (Don’t say my back—they didn’t know about that.)
Right, I won’t say more until I know this letter has reached you. Would be a shame to send a bunch of nonsense if nobody was there to receive it.
P.S. I thought that would be a suitable name to hide behind, because it would be… not wise to put just my own. God, I hope nobody save for you can read through this, otherwise it would defeat the purpose of hiding behind a woman’s façade.
No, we did not expect this. Part of me wishes we had, so we could have maybe prepared. Christ, I don’t even know if we could have prepared for this… but still, it would have been nice to know
. I would’ve spent the last night we were together doing more than just I would have done something more if I had known I might not see you again.
It is absolutely disgusting where I am, I’ll have you know. Mud and dirt everywhere. And that’s the least nasty bits. It is… not pleasant here,
I am rubbish at this.
Anyway, this letter is also late. I don’t have much paper. I can’t restart this, even though I would like to—as I have made a few too many errors for my liking—because of this lack of resources. You’ll have to do with my unedited nonsense, which is arguably a lot worse than it usually is, considering how distracted I constantly am from these domestic matters at this point.
It’s nearing night now, and I’m trying to write this by squinting my eyes, because candles are not a good idea right now. I don’t even think I have access to a candle, anyway. I shall have to find out. I won’t use it, but it would be good to know.
I have a lighter, though. And some cigarettes. Not enough to last me a good while, but enough to keep me going for a few days. Please don’t berate me once again for them—I would like to have one creature comfort here in this…
I was given two or three “happy birthdays” and that was far more than I had expected, so it will suffice.
Tommy will get the hang of it soon, if he hasn’t done already. While that won’t stop you from missing me, as I gather from your letter, it will hopefully give you some ease of mind about your appearance and timeliness. He will have you dressed and on time everywhere. I taught him well, I’d like to think.
Sir, Jack, Jacklynn,
Jesus Christ. I might as well address you as “you there” at this point.
What I was trying to say is: there is a reason you are not out here, fighting an actual war. It is because you are
an earl a person of such high status. They would not willingly chuck you to the frontlines when you are an important member of society. I, on the other hand, was born with nothing and will die with nothing, so does it matter whether I should die here or back in Wales? No. Thus, here I am, trying desperately not to die until I’m back in Wales, because I will not die here. God, no.
Your nonsense was a much-appreciated distraction. Even if it’s a distraction that only happens once and a while, I would still like it. Please, send more nonsense.
Private Ianto Jones
P.S. You do realise that is a made-up name, right? Nobody is named that. Why not Jacqueline? That is, at least, a real name.
P.S. You asked for a picture of me in uniform. There should be one enclosed in this letter. I hope that’s suitable enough.
If I had known you would be leaving me like that, I would absolutely have done something more than what we did. I would’ve held you tighter that night and demanded you not go. Refused to let you leave, maybe. Snuck in with you? I don’t know. But I would have done something.
Hindsight is always perfect, isn’t it? Oh, well. Can’t do a thing about it now.
Are you in a trench? What’s that like? You say muddy and dirty, but what else? I will never know, so I must picture it in my minds eye. I want to know what you’re dealing with. Might make me miserable to know, but I feel I must.
Do you normally edit your letters? If so, how many times do you write and re-write before you make the perfect one to send? Because that seems a tad… fussy, if you don’t mind my saying. And a bit of overkill. You don’t have to edit anything for me. I like your ramblings and your false starts.
I am slightly worried by the “I don’t have a candle” statement, so I must assume there are reasons you do not have one. Hopefully not for the same reason as your lack of paper. Should I send you a candle?
I will say nothing about your
dreadful smoking habits. Smoke your life away, Ianto, if that’s what you choose.
Two or three “happy birthdays” are better than none, I suppose. I think I preferred the ever-so-slightly larger and grander birthday wishes that I’d conjured in my mind, but I can’t complain.
Tommy is… getting there. He still irks me in ways that I am now deciding are because I miss you, but otherwise, he can tie a tie as well as anyone else. You do it better, don’t worry.
However, there is one thing he is not good at: massaging out my back. I didn’t expect this to be a problem, as it isn’t often that you had to do it, but that problem has arisen. He was very awkward and my back hurts even more. I spent the day in bed, trying not to move. He was apologetic, and I accepted his many apologies, but he won’t be coming near my back with those hands ever again.
As for on time… Ianto, nobody could get me anywhere on time except you. You, and that trusty stopwatch of yours.
I miss that stopwatch.
If it is my status that keeps me from joining you out there, then why is it that Rhys managed to become a captain? That does not add up, Ianto.
The entire staff sends their regards. Yes, the entire staff, and that includes Owen. Miss Sato asked me to include a small message from her: “Tell him we all are rooting for him, and that we all want him home soon.”
Ianto, can we please not talk about you dying?
P.S. “Jacqueline” doesn’t have “Jack” in it. “Jacklynn” has both “Jack” and “Lynn” in it. And “Lynn” is Welsh. I can finally be the Welshwoman of your dreams, Ianto.
P.S. Suitable? Ianto, it is everything to me. (Also, you look very striking in that uniform. I’ll leave it at that for now.)
P.P.S. Private, huh?
I would like to drop the façade, but I suspect they might be reading our letters, considering how long it takes for them to deliver. And also because one of Eugene’s letters came in looking strange.
None of those things would have worked. I was strong-armed into enlisting, if you remember. This wasn’t exactly my choice. Begging me to stay would have done nothing for either of us, except make me miserable because I would have had to refuse. And sneaking in with me would have gotten you nowhere. Well, maybe dead.
I can’t tell you where I am. But it’s muddy and dirty, yes… and sometimes it fills with water when it rains, and the stench is near unbearable. And that’s not even mentioning the
smell when people d
Never mind that. It’s a trench; it probably reaches all of your trench-y expectations. Nothing glorious about it, and I rather suggest you stop thinking about it.
No, back then I did not edit my letters. Perhaps I would restart if I had begun it in a way that lead to nowhere, or if I absolutely detested what I was saying, but I did not write the letters over and over again until I had the entire letter exactly perfect.
But now… now I find myself making many mistakes. My hands shake and sometimes it ruins the words and sometimes I write the wrong thing and… it’s all a mess, and I don’t know what to do…
Anyway, now I have no paper to restart. I have to keep writing what I write. And what I write is a mess, now.
I don’t have a candle. I don’t want a candle. There isn’t much use for a sustained flame. I don’t want them to see me.
Smoking is about the only thing doing me any good at this point. Part of our rations at this point. I think I smoke more than I eat. Don’t scold me—eating isn’t high on my priorities. The food is horrid, and I am hardly hungry, anyway. It’s hard to be hungry here.
It’s been a long while since my birthday. I hope you aren’t still thinking about it.
Tommy is doing his best, but do not let him anywhere near your back. That is the one thing I didn’t teach him about, because it was the one thing that bordered intimate. I didn’t think you would ask him.
I don’t have my stopwatch. Either I lost it in some muck somewhere, or it’s at home.
Alright, I’ll explain it better: Rhys is a baron with a wife and a baby on the way (don’t ask me how I know that –Pte Eugene Jones used to work for her before the war, and he got news from one of his friends).
You, on the other hand, are an earl, a bachelor, and have no heir, and that makes you too valuable to lose. And you are a… woman, so you can’t fight.
Do you mind if I ask you to send a short reply back to Miss Sato? Could you read it out to her, please? Just this: “Tosh, I hope you’re well. Feed him more. Sincerely, Ianto.”
I know that’s short but… I haven’t much to say, really. I can’t think of anything.
Right, I have to go.
Private Ianto Jones
P.S. There has never been a Welshwoman of my dreams.
P.S. I’m glad you like it. I look nothing like that man now—my uniform is considerably dirtier. Which I hate.
P.P.S. It is my rank. Please don’t make lewd jokes about that.
Are they tampering with your letters?
Okay, maybe nothing would have worked, but I would still have tried. I miss you, Ianto, and if past me could save present me this, I would’ve.
I won’t ask you where you are then. I hope it isn’t France—France sounds a horrid place to be right now. I haven’t heard much, but there have been rumours… it doesn’t sound pleasant. Anyone on that front is in all of our prayers, but I hope to God you are not one of those people.
Ianto, I worry about you constantly. Not only for the obvious reasons, but also because you seem… I don’t know how to put it. You don’t seem fully there, when you write. And your handwriting is shaky. Are you alright?
And if you are sure you do not want a candle, I will not send one. Though I am not sure I would have been able to send one, anyway.
I suppose I’m glad that something is keeping you warm at night, even if it is a cigarette. I can’t say what it will do for your health, but it is good that something gives you at least something to hold onto.
I have learned my lesson, and I’ll leave all back-massaging up to you. Of course, that would mean you would have to come home to do it.
Since I didn’t want you to worry about, I went searching for your stopwatch. I found it hidden in my desk, under some papers. When did we use it there? Wait. No, I know. I suppose we should be glad we didn’t break the thing when we were… “moving the desk.”
I have another letter to write…
Your worried “Jacklynn”
P.S. Well, now there is.
P.S. Ianto Jones, in dirty clothes. I can just picture the disgust on your face.
P.P.S. I’ll say nothing. But there’s no stopping what I think.
I think yours and mine have made it through fine, but they certainly censored things Eugene had written. But we should be safe. For now, anyway.
I miss you, too.
I miss lots of things. Good coffee, for a start. A bed. Pillows. Soft blankets. Miss Sato’s cooking. Not being full of mud. Baths. Clean air that doesn’t smell like decay. Letters that send on time. Sleep. Lack of the constant feeling of doom. The quiet.
No matter how hard you try to get me to say where I am, I still can’t. All I can say is that I hate it here. I hate it so much and I want to go home.
I’m fine. Mostly. At least, I’m better off than… others. Don’t worry about me.
And, no, I don’t think you would have been able to mail me a candle. Like I keep saying: it’s fine, and I don’t need one. My lighter died anyway.
Though I might be able to nick one off of a dea
Don’t try to send me a lighter. I’ll get a new one.
Keep the stopwatch safe for me, yeah?
Private Ianto Jones