Today, after two months, I was able to write something. It’s barely 400 words, it’s not great, it’s not much, I don’t even know what comes next (if anything comes at all), for now it’s all I got…but I’m happy for it. I thought I’d share that feeling. X
Spring in War Time
My hands crumpled the paper, tirelessly – fingerprints overlapping again and again, mountains of cells pilling, with all my sorrow in its nucleus. My skin felt like parchment, old and fragile, thirsty for ink that could shape meaning. I had been made of paper for quite some time, countless shapes drawn with my limbs, words pouring out, hidden ink spilled all over. And yet – yet – always on the verge of being torn apart.
I had stood near his doorway for hours, contemplating what to say. The letters were an explanation of sorts – I could give them to him and wait. He would figure it out.
But I had made a promise and had to keep it.
The blood was so hard to get from under my fingernails. It settled there, an unfortunate nail polish, my body always about to bleed another’s blood. I had rinsed my hands, scrubbed them until my fingers were red and burning – but, still, the blood remained.
“Captain Finnigan is deid.” Jenny announced, entering our tent. She had dark circles carved under her eyes - medals no one bestowed upon her, no one would account for – after four nights watching over the dying soldier. “God have mercy on his soul.”
“Poor man.” I sighed, finally giving up and starting to braid my hair for the night. “That makes about twenty dead from consumption in one week.”
“The pale horse rides wild in this camp.” Jenny agreed, neatly folding the uniform she had just undressed. “The puir man never stopped calling for his wife. I wonder who will tell her of his fate?”
“She will probably receive a letter.” I answered, sparing a silent prayer for the unbeknownst widow. “Maybe she’ll know already by the time the letter comes.”
“The saddest of thoughts…” My friend and fellow nurse said slowly. “Having a stranger write some impersonal letter, saying how sorry they are for a loss they know nothing about.”
“One of the many little deaths death entails.” I smiled, but a knot was forming inside my throat, just where my voice was born. “At least I don’t have to worry about that – no one really to be informed if I was to be dead.”
“Would you tell my brother?” She asked in a hushed voice, coming to sit next to me, her hand cold against mine. “If something happened to me? Would you tell him about me, Claire?”