romancoin's Prompt - Part One: Walter.
Premise of the Prompt: Claire goes back in time with the help of old war friends to bust Jamie out of Ardsmuir.
“Wait, what did you say his name was?” I caught the nurse’s arm as she was about to slide back the privacy curtain.
She glanced down at the clipboard and repeated, “Walter Holden. Know him?”
“You could say that.”
“…and Private Holden. Leg wound.” The head nurse finished the list of patients in the ward.
I bent and lifted the thin blanket away from his limb. The bandage was clean, having recently been redressed, and even. “He came in last night with the others?” I asked.
A battalion of American infantrymen had suffered considerable casualties after an attempt to reclaim important territory nearby. We were the closest aid station and, due to the critical condition of several of their men, we treated them.
He was young, barely eighteen by the looks of him, and seemed to be one of the lucky ones. While the cut was deep, the matron explained, it shouldn’t cause any permanent damage to his leg.
Parting the curtain, I found myself face to face with Private Walter Holden. The years had been good to him and he still had that boyish gleam in his eye.
“Been a long time, Captain Randall.” He grinned.
“It’s just Dr Randall now,” I smiled back. “What have you done this time?”
Walt had earned himself a reputation of being accident prone in the short time he had been at my field hospital. He once managed to tear open his wound while casually walking between his bunk and the mess tent. To this day, I still had no idea how he did it.
His deep laughter rang thru the room. He wasn’t in too great of pain, apparently.
“I cut myself again,” Walt held up his left hand, an impressive gash running song the side of his palm
I shook my head in mock disapproval as I took a closer look. It would need stitches, but, once again, the cut hadn’t damaged anything important.
Sending the nurse out for proper supplies, the two of us began to chat.
“I hope life’s been treating you well. How’s Frank?” He asked jovially.
My stomach clenched as I answered, “He was killed in a car accident, about two years ago now.”
Walt’s face fell. “I am so sorry, Claire. I didn’t mean to–”
“It’s alright.” I brushed his apology aside. “I haven’t seen you in over ten years, you’d have no way of knowing.”
The truth of the matter was that, while I did miss him in my own way, I no longer mourned for Frank. The last years of our marriage had been strained at best and I had now moved on with my life
The nurse returned, carrying everything i needed to stitch and bandage his hand.
I set about cleaning the wound, “What about you? Have you settled down?”
The charming smile was back in an instant.
“Do you remember Marie Kline? She was a nurse with you at the field hospital.” He asked.
Marie Kline… Oh yes!
Laughing, I responded. “I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised. The two of you were quite the item, nurse and patient. You stayed in touch, when you left?”
“Actually, we didn’t. Ran into each other at a bus stop about a year after I got back…” He trailed off as he watched me remove a small piece of debris from his hand. “Got married six months later, and here we are.”
“You live here in Boston, then?” I asked, giving the wound a final swab of disinfectant.
“Yep.” He flinched.
Hoping to distract him from the coming stitches, I inquired, “Any children?”
“Just one. Robert. He’ll be twelve next month.” His jaw clenched as the needle went in.
“My daughter Brianna is about the same age,” I smiled, trying to keep him at ease. “She just turned ten.”
Six stitches later, the wound was closed.
“The two of you should come over for dinner sometime.” He offered as I bandaged his hand. “Marie would love to see you, and I’m sure the kids will find something to do.”
“We would love to,” I smiled.