Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘letter’

Whales & Dolphins In Atlantic

Tell President Obama to protect the Atlantic

Thousands of whales and dolphins in the Atlantic could soon be subjected to loud seismic airgun blasts, shot over and over again for months on end. We’ll need YOUR HELP to stop it.

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Right now, we are gathering signatures from members of Congress on a letter to the president asking him to stop these deadly plans. We want to make sure he hears the message, so we’re asking YOU to sign on as well to let him know how important it is that these plans are stopped.

Sign our People’s Sign-on Letter to President Obama to reject seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic »

Seismic airgun testing for oil may begin in just a few months in parts of the U.S. Atlantic coast. Animals close to the blasts could be killed or injured, and others will be forced to flee their habitats.

These tests consist of sending airgun blasts, louder than a jet engine, straight into the ocean floor, every ten seconds for weeks on end. Not only will the blasts kill or injure beloved animals like the endangered North Atlantic right whale, but it also could drive away the fish that East Coast fishermen depend on. About 222,000 jobs in the coastal fishing and seafood industries could be disrupted, affecting communities that are already struggling from the effects of Hurricane Sandy and the recession.

Furthermore, seismic testing is the first step to offshore oil drilling. Once offshore drilling starts on the East Coast, it’s only a matter of time until there is an oil spill like the one we saw in the Gulf three years ago.

Protect dolphins and whales from deadly airgun blasts. Sign the letter to President Obama today »

Your voice can make a difference in this important fight. Thank you for standing with us.

Thank you,
Rachael Prokop
Oceana

Nobel Prize Winner In Jail

From Amnesty International

If the Chinese government had it their way, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo would never receive his rightful recognition.

Earlier this month, three women were named recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for promoting women’s rights and women’s participation in peace-building. Yet, the winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese human rights defender Liu Xiaobo, still languishes behind prison bars for seeking to promote peaceful political and social reforms in China.

In the days surrounding International Human Rights Day (December 10), you can shine a light for Liu Xiaobo and for others whose rights have been denied.

We’re asking you to take one simple action: Write a letter.

This can be a letter of passion and outrage to a government guilty of repressing free expression and denying other human rights.

Or it can be a letter of solidarity and hope sent directly to someone who needs reassurance that they are not alone.

Liu Xiaobo is just one case featured in this year’s annual Write for Rights – Global Write-a-thon – Amnesty’s largest global human rights event. Sign up now and let your letters be counted!

Since Amnesty’s founding 50 years ago, people throughout the world have joined together in classrooms, coffee houses and community centers to take action. They were united by a simple, yet powerful, tool for change – the letter.

Need proof that written words are powerful? Look no further than Liu Xiaobo – whose words of hope and freedom are seen as such a threat by authorities in China that they have imprisoned him because of them.

Now he and others need you to carry their torch by picking up a pen. You don’t need to be a Nobel Prize winner to Write for Rights! Stand with human rights supporters around the world by joining the Global Write-a-thon.

With hope,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Campaign Director
Individuals at Risk
Amnesty International USA

Tomas and Annalise – Vier

From It’s About Time by Gabriel Constans.
A novel based on a true story.

Vier

Tomas glided out of the kitchen with a tray full of breakfast delights and placed it on my lap. He sat on the edge of the bed and brushed the hair out of my eyes.

“Wow!” I said, drooling. “What a feast!”

“‘Tis the least I could do for my fair maiden,” he replied, kneeling down to kiss my hand.

As I pulled him closer, almost knocking over the tray, he kissed me again. “Thank you,” I whispered in his ear.

He sat up slightly and asked, “Where were you while I was trudging through the kitchen castle, slaying the stove dragon for your breakfast?”

“Alas, I must confess, dear prince, I was thinking of when we first met. Remember?”

“Remember?” he started, “of course; how could I ever forget?” He looked at me with mock surprise. “You were like a genie coming to life, but instead of me rubbing your lamp, you rubbed mine.” His laughter warmed the room.

“It was my second day in Chicago,” I recalled. “I’d just met your parents the night before and was pretty exhausted from the flight. You came in the afternoon. We were in the living room when I heard you come in the front door and yell out for your mom and dad. Your parents hollered back, ‘We’re in here, son!’ We all stood up, except for Jens, who sarcastically introduced you as ‘My older, but dumber brother, Tomas.’ You looked at him, as if you’d heard it a hundred times. ‘Hi, nice to meet you,’ you said. You looked incredibly handsome in your dark suit and tie.” Tomas blushed.

“You had the bluest eyes I’d ever seen,” I recalled, staring into his sparkling pools. “They took me in like the deepest ocean. When you shook my hand, your grip felt strong and gentle. I trusted you without hesitation or regret. You’ve never broken that trust.”

He kissed me on the cheek as I continued the memory. “Jens said he had some business to take care of and asked if you’d show me around. I was delighted at the prospect, and you didn’t appear to be to put out either.”

“It was a pleasure, to say the least,” he smirked.

“You were intensely polite and had impeccable manners,” I continued. “You spoke to me with dignity and respect. I felt like you actually cared about what I was saying. you betrayed not a hint of condescension, belittlement or false modesty. And your German was excellent. I’d never heard an American speak so well.”

“It’s gotten a little rusty,” he admitted.

“After a few days of you ‘showing me around,’ I started wondering if I was living with the wrong man.” My mied feelings bubbled up in the retelling. “I was excited, bewildered and terrified. I remember telling myself to stop considering such crazy ideas. You were my boyfriend’s brother, for God’s sake, but the more I tried to stay away, the closer I got. It was like someone had put a chocolate sundae in front of me and said ‘Don’t touch!’ You were all I thought of, night and day. I’m not sure you knew what to make of me. You probably thought I was a slut or something.”

“No,” Tomas remembered. “I was confused all right, but not by you. What scared me was what I was feeling towards you. It was terrifyingly wonderful! I tried to forget about you by calling some old girlfriends in town.”

“You called a girlfriend?!” I kidded. “How could you?”

“They were useless.” He shook his head. “All attempts at releasing you from my heart were futile. I told myself Jens didn’t deserve you and I was right – but he was still my brother and you were his girl, so to speak. The clincher was the day before I left, when you pulled me into the bedroom, closed the door and kissed me with such passion and urgency I thought I’d ignite.”

“That wasn’t planned!” I laughed. “It happened before I could stop myself. You know me,” I said shyly. “Would you ever have expected me to be so bold?”

“Not then,” he exclaimed. “Now, yes!”

“Only with you.” I grabbed his robe and forced him closer. “You deserve this,” I exclaimed, as my arms wrapped him up and our lips collided.

After we’d caught our breath, I told him to look in the pocket of the suitcase.

“What for?” he asked.

“The letter.”

“What letter?”

“The one you sent me after we met,” I said. “I brought it with us.”

He found it, came back to bed and handed me the envelope.

“No, you read it.” I handed it back. “I want to hear it in your voice. Please?”

“It’s been a long time since I wrote this,” he said, as he looked it over. He lay down beside me and began.

“Dear Annalise. Your letter arrived last week and I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, trying to think of a way to respond. You seem to have a hidden talent for making a person feel special when he’s around you. There’s something I must confess before going any further: I played with you a little bit at first, in the hopes of making Jens jealous. It seems that he takes you for granted and that made me made. I hate to see anyone used as if they were a piece of furniture. Aside from that, I also believe he thinks no one else would ever have any interest in you. I never figured my plans would backfire and I would start falling in love with you. But I’m glad things turned out the way they did. This might change your feelings towards me, but I hope not.

When it comes to good-byes, they’ve always been rather hard for me, ‘besondous dieses mahl.’ I wanted to get closer, but then the tears really would have started to flow and for some strange reason – which I can’t quite figure out – I don’t like to see myself betraying such emotion. Seeing you go bothered me very much inside. It seems we’d only known each other such a short time and then we had to part. Time can be cruel when you’re given so little of it.

Sitting in this crummy little apartment that the Foreign Service provides can be rather dreary, but when I think of you, that makes it more bearable. I don’t remember when I began feeling the way I do. Perhaps it was when we shared that kiss. My feelings are something one can’t really pinpoint; they just seem to have developed beyond my control. Love Thomas.”

We sat in silence, holding hands and sighed. The memory of that meeting sunk deep into our bones.

Tomas finally turned, wondering, “Why did we let it slip away?”

“We didn’t let it slip away darling; it was taken,” I reminded him.

“I guess so,” he said softly.

“Jens didn’t trust me with anyone, “I recalled. “I don’t think, at that point, he consciously knew how much I was drawn to you, but unconsciously, he must have felt something. He’s such a jealous bastard!”

“Of course he felt it,” Tomas said. “How could he have missed it? Too bad we didn’t know what to do about it.”

“You mean,” I asked, “if I hadn’t been such a chicken and felt so guilty.”

“No,” Tomas quickly corrected. “I mean, if I hadn’t been such a coward, we could have been together like this years ago.”

Tomas looked down at the floor.

I lifted his head gently, my hand under his chin. “We don’t know what might have happened. We’re here now and I love you so much!”

His eyes watered, his chest heaved and he began to weep. I held him to my chest and felt his salt tears dampen my skin.

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The English Lesson – Part 3

Conclusion of The English Lesson. An excerpt from short story collection Saint Catherine’s Baby.

After several moments of silence, Mrs. Frankel closed her eyes and whispered, “That man save my life.” Her eyelids parted slightly. “After war, our town in ruin from bombs. Many months go here and there. Much poor, much, how say, puberty?”

“Poverty,” Ruthie nodded, choking down her urge to laugh.

“We have little to eat. Most people in country same. Our haus destroyed. No verk. Father dead.” A smile caressed her lips. “Then comes Claude. He intrepoter, inturp . . . you know, talk for. He verk with Americans because he speak Deutsche, English and French,” she blushed. “I just young girl. He came in night, after verk and ask my muter if he can take out me. She say, ‘Ask her, not me.’ Of course, I say yes. He is so nice and looking good.” She smiled so broadly that Ruthie could see her scrubbed white dentures.

“He bring our family extra bread and ration coupons. I not help but fall in love with man. He very gentle and true.” She stopped and caught her breath. “One day he tell me his story. Claude’s parents were arrest by Nazis, just as he home from school in afternoon. He been told what to do if something happen, so he go hiding and join sister, who already live in château in France, where brave owner save many refugee.”

Mrs. Frankel suddenly stopped, got up stiffly and moved down the hall. “I show something,” she mumbled, then disappeared into the back bedroom. Ruthie could hear her opening drawers and struggling to close them.

After several minutes she returned with a small, torn envelope and drew out its crumbling contents. She handed the paper to Ruthie who looked blankly at the German correspondence. “I found letter going through his thinks. It is to man who survive death camp and write Claude to tell him how his parents horrible finish. He know and see Claude’s parents go into gas death. Claude’s letter back to this man is scream of anger and how you say, griefing?” The handwriting was neat and precise up to the final shaky sentence. Mrs. Frankel read it to Ruthie. “His last words say, ‘I have to stop writing . . .’”

A shadow fell upon the room, as a limb outside the window blew in the gathering wind. Ruthie folded the letter with tenderness and handed it back to Mrs. Frankel.

“He end up verking as journal speaker for Radio Free Europe, then as soldier for underground,” she said proudly. “He speak languages good.” Ruthie’s smiled. “Not like me.”

Mrs. Frankel’s smile subsided as her story continued. “It hard to think my sweet Claude as soldier boy. He live in woods and mountain caves two years until allies, how you say, ‘parasite’ vepons from sky?”

“Parachute,” Ruthie gently supplied the word, not wishing to intrude.

“Yes, parashut,” Mrs. Frankel agreed. “Then they have guns and bullets to fight. He say he lost many friend . . . many French friend. He very brave. Not only he stood his place, but run back and forth during heavy fight to bring friends bullets. He grew above self and after war was honor the la Croix de Guerre by French guvermant.”

Mrs. Frankel took a blue and white embroidered handkerchief from the pocket of her plain, neatly ironed dress and blew her nose. “‘One of happiest day in life?’ he say, when he and thousand of French people greet American soldier boys and march down Champs de Elysees.”

“What was the other?”

“Other what?”

“Happiest day of his life.”

She gazed at her husband’s picture. “When he meet me.” Her tears flowed freely. “He always say I best thing in his life.” She resorted to her hanky once again, dabbed her eyes and apologized. “I sorry. Please . . . I just old, sad woman. Not your problem.”

“It’s OK.”

Mrs. Frankel blew her nose one last time and pocketed her handkerchief. “Enough.” She picked up the pages, pointed, and demanded, “What this say!?”

***

Sy was half-asleep, lounging in the car, when Ruthie left Mrs. Frankels. The wind had picked up, blowing a multi-colored curtain of autumn leaves around her. She stopped at the front gate to wave to Mrs. Frankel, who watched through the living room window. The shades had all been opened.

She went to the car. With the English lesson resting on her lap, she looked fondly down the maple and elm-lined street.

Sy sat up slowly and turned the ignition. The old Plymouth hummed to attention.

“How goes it?” He put the transmission into drive.

“Not bad.” Ruthie’s seditious smile lit her face. “Not bad at all.”

Sy put the gear back in park. “Not bad?” he said incredulously.

Ruthie buckled her seat belt and said, more to herself then to Sy, “Not bad, once you get to know her.” She leaned over and kissed Sy, who stared at her blankly. “I’m awfully lucky to have you,” she grinned.

“What brought that on?”

“Let’s go home,” she nodded towards the street. “I’ll tell you all about it.”

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