From Chicken Soup for the Veteran's Soul

Hot Lips

“Loose Lips Sink Ships,” the poster warned.

After a week of censorship duties, I was sure that the squadron harbored no loose lips. But we sure had plenty of “hot lips,” and I was growing sick of playing censor.

Every night, a pile of mail was plunked down in front of me, and my job was to pore over it for any information that might be useful to the enemy or unnerving to the home front. It was a lousy way to spend an evening.

My eyes blurred, and my brain turned numb as I read the contents: Complete recitations of the daily menus. Wild guesses at when the war was going to end. Complaint after complaint about fellow soldiers. What else was there left to write about after years of war?

Love letters, of course. Boy-girl letters that positively sizzled with passion. I had my doubts about a number of those fiery attestations of undying love. I’d seen some of those “faithful” boyfriends in action in the “rest camps.”

But the husband-wife letters—they were different. They were real, and playing Peeping Tom to them was hard. I still remember one particular letter as clearly as if I had read it in this morning’s mail, though it’s been forty-five years now.

The letter was written by a ground crewman I didn’t know, and the separation from his wife had become unbearable for him. “I must meet you tonight,” the man wrote his wife. “And tomorrow night. And the night after that.”

What was he talking about? We were on Corsica, an island thousands of miles away from her in the States. “Nine P.M.,” he reminded her. “Meet me by the light of the moon.” He even specified where he would meet her—a little building near the squadron operations office. That would be a trick, I thought. Besides, 9 P.M. here was full sun back in the States.

I folded the letter, placed it back in the envelope and finished my pile. It isn’t any business of mine anyway, I told myself.

But as 9 P.M. drew near, my curiosity got the best of me, and I strolled by the operations office in the direction of that little building. A full moon was out, and I could see everything clearly. I stopped short when I saw the figure outlined in the moonlight. A lone man. His head was bowed toward his shadow on the ground, his eyes closed in disappointment. Surely he hadn’t really expected her to be there?

Yet as I studied the husband’s face in the moonlight, his eyes tightly shut, I read not disappointment but intense concentration. That’s when I realized what was happening. As far as he was concerned, he wasn’t standing by an old operations building in Corsica at all. He had transported himself to be with his wife, just as she had done, and was doing whatever it is married lovers do when they rendezvous unnoticed by the world in a private little corner, after long months of separation.

I quickly turned and walked off into the night, ashamed that I had played voyeur to such an intimate rendezvous. As I walked back to my tent, though, I couldn’t help but feel warm inside. I had just seen devotion that defied time and space. It was a love that nothing could censor.

Philip Weiner
Submitted by Rebecca Langston

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