A Long Time Coming

Wendy Klopfenstein

Grace ran her fingers along the worn edges of the envelopes as the train sped forward to the next town. The town that held her future. Or so she hoped. Amidst the cries of little babes and old men’s snores, Grace pulled the top letter from the envelope once more. Carefully, she spread it across her skirt. She’d changed into her Sunday best, soon to be her wedding outfit, at the last stop. Her stomach had been too full of jittery nerves to eat the stew at the depot, so she’d made herself ready.

A tendril of hair tickled her cheek. She brushed the strand away, then scanned the words she repeated in her head daily.

My Dearest Grace,

I can wait no longer. Enclosed you will find a ticket for the train to carry you to Denver. Say you’ll marry me. No need to write your answer. I’ll look for you at the station.


Gently, she folded the letter. Once it rested safely in the envelope, she worked her way down the stack. One by one. Her favorite snippets dancing on the page before her eyes.

…You are the one, then? The very same Grace? The world is indeed small. I have never forgotten you. How lucky I am to find you again. As they say, true love never dies. I shall forever call you my Grace…

True love? She’d no idea he’d felt the same all those years.

…I wonder at your name. Did you, by chance, attend school in the little town of Lone Grove? If my memory serves me right, I once knew a girl there with the same name. She had blond curls. Her eyes were the purest green. And her giggle always left my stomach doing flip-flops. What a funny thing it would be if the one to have answered my ad for a wife is one and the same? Tell me, is it you?…

A joy-filled tear escaped to slide down Grace’s cheek. Oh, the memory of the moment she read this letter for the first time. How her breath caught, so much so her mother peppered her with unwanted questions. Never again did she read Luke’s letters in other’s company. She slid the next from the envelope. The first one of their correspondence.

Dear Miss,

I ran the ad seeking a woman of fine reputation. A woman eager to come West to share a life with me. If you are willing, please share your name and as many facts about yourself as possible in your next letter.

Luke C. of Denver

Her mind lingered over the name as she slid a finger across the page. Grace slipped it to the bottom of the stack. An old folded paper remained. When opened, it contained the most treasured note of all. The one left on her school desk so long ago.


My Pa says we have to move. I don’t want to. Mostly because you are my best friend. Maybe I’ll write, but forgive me if I don’t. I may be too busy with chores.


The letters were the loopy cursive of a twelve-year-old boy. Her first crush. They’d walked to and from school together for two years before he’d moved away, with only this note to remind her.

The slowing of the cars alerted her to the end of the journey. Her fingers made quick work of stuffing the last of the letters back in its envelope. She worked the pretty blue ribbon around the stack and, with a shaky hand, placed them back in her travel bag. Mother had scolded her for taking up so much space with the letters. Mother hadn’t understood. Couldn’t. But Luke would understand. 

Steam from the engine stack floated past the windows as the cars lurched to a stop at the station. Grace swayed with the motion, holding her bag close to her. The moisture from her palms seeped into the fabric of her travel bag. She stood with the other passengers, filtering into the line as they progressed to the open door at the end of the car. Tonight, she’d be on her honeymoon. 

A fresh breeze blew loose strands of hair from her face as she lighted the steps. Grace dared not scan the crowd for her beloved. Not yet. Best to wait until her feet were firmly planted on the ground, carrying her apart from the crowd. Her heart pounded in her ears as she wove her way to a space at the edge of the throng. She paused to catch her breath, scanning the fringes of the milling people. 

“Grace?” His voice was lower than she remembered. “Is it really you?”

Before her, a man stood. Taller, lanky, with the same wavy hair and piercing blue eyes as the boy she’d once loved. Still loved. 

“It’s me.” The wobble in her words betrayed the nerves she tried so hard to hide. A giggle escaped.

Luke stepped back. His gaze swept over her, then stopped to linger on her face. “You are a sight for sore eyes. More beautiful than I ever imagined. And no more pigtails.”

Grace’s fingers worked at the brooch at her neck. “No more pigtails.”

“The preacher’s waiting at his house. You ready?”

“Just one thing.” She swallowed hard.

A shadow of worry passed across his face. “What is it?”

Not wanting to lose her nerve, Grace reached up and kissed him. Right on the lips. The world faded away, all but Luke. When she leaned back, a lopsided smile spread across his face as he blushed. At that moment, all doubts fled.

“I’m ready,” she said.

Luke wrapped his hand around hers. Grace walked beside him to the preacher’s house and the future she’d always dreamed of.

Wendy Klopfenstein
Wendy Klopfenstein enjoys sunshine, sweet tea, and a good book, preferably all at the same time. Having always loved creating stories as much as reading them, she now puts the ones wandering around in her head on paper for others to enjoy. When she’s not sitting on the porch reading or helping clients in the family business, you can find her working on her next novel.

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