Dear Jamie, Love Rory
by Micaiah Saldaña
Issue #54 • July 19, 2018
Today is your birthday, and you’re not home.
I hate thinking that you’re thousands of miles away in some remote area of Afghanistan on your birthday. I hate thinking that Mom won’t be making you a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. I hate that I had to sing happy birthday to a blurry figure on a screen that looks like you, but at the same time, with his buzz cut and camouflage... Doesn’t. FaceTime is great, but it’s not the same as having you here. Home.
Mom and Dad say that they’re proud of you for enlisting and selflessly serving our country as a soldier in the U.S. Army. I am too—I have the cheesy t-shirt you picked up for me from Ft. Jackson to prove it. But pride won’t erase the fact that you’re not home, big brother.
I wish you were home with all of us. But instead, I’m sitting on the tree swing you and Dad put up a couple years ago. And I’m alone. The stars are out tonight—the ever-present Washington clouds seem to have disappeared because they know what day today is. I’ve tried counting the stars, but I’ve only gotten to one hundred sixteen. So far. It’s comforting, in a strange way, knowing that you look at the same sky I look at. Same moon. Same sun.
Happy birthday, Jamie.
Micaiah Saldaña is, first and foremost, a passionate follower of Jesus. When she isn’t lost in the stories she writes or daydreaming about typewriters, you can find her reading just about anything YA fiction, spending time with her friends and family, and drinking lots of salted caramel hot chocolate. You might be able to catch her rambling on her blog, Notebooks and Novels, at www.notebooksandnovels.com—that is, if she hasn’t made her way to Narnia. Yet.
Patrick Ryan on Dear Jamie, Love Rory
“Dear Jamie, Love Rory” is a story about siblings. But more specifically, it’s a story about love. Jamie is a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. Rory and Nikki are his sisters. They don’t always get along; in fact, one of the few things they have in common is their love for their brother and the fact that they miss him so much. And they’re about to embark on a road trip together.
One Teen Story is excited to be presenting this impressive piece of fiction by Micaiah Saldaña, one of the winners of our Teen Writing Contest. Written as a series of letters Rory writes to Jamie, it is both funny and touching, and it is a testament to patience and personal growth. One of the things I like about “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” is that it’s two stories in one: we get the road trip (and who doesn’t like a good road trip?), and we get an intimate portrait of two sisters on a path toward mending their strained relationship.
As long as the Airstream trailer doesn’t make you claustrophobic and Mittens (a slobbering Mastiff) doesn’t drool on you, you should enjoy this one-sided epistolary.
Q&A by Patrick Ryan
Another way my life gave me the idea for “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” is the fact that, like Jamie, my dad is in the Army. Sadly, I haven’t read any fiction representing teens with loved ones in the military. The military experience isn’t easy for anyone. It’s full of many changes, uncertainties, and having to say lots of goodbyes. In “Dear Jamie, Love Rory,” I wanted to try to portray some of the pain and hardships that we military kids feel.
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of writing fast-paced, action-packed mysteries. When I write, I want to write stories that tug on people’s heartstrings and point them to Jesus. I like writing whimsical fantasies, historical, and contemporaries. I’m more into the softer side of fiction, if that makes any sense. Once I discovered that, once I started writing the stories I wanted to see on bookshelves—the stories of my heart—then I truly began to grow and flourish as a writer, not to mention fall even more in love with writing.