“What’s with that nurse? She’s harder to reach than Fort Knox,” Clifton Barnes smacks his bunk to punctuate his frustration.
Turning over to address Barnes, Sargent Carl Diamond answers, “She’s just doing her job which doesn’t include entertaining you, soldier.”
“The other nurses at least act like their care. She barely even looks at us. I don’t get it.”
“Give her a break, Barnes. She’s an excellent nurse.”
Corporal Barnes looks up to catch Naomi Kingery walking passed. He gets Naomi’s attention with a quick whistle.
“Whadja need, Barnes?” Naomi stops at the foot of Barnes’ bed.
“How well do you know that Lt. Peyton?” Barnes sits up a little and asks softly.
“We’ve worked together here off and on, why?”
“Why is she more standoff-ish than other nurses?”
“That’s just her nature – all business. Probably helps keep her sane, ” Naomi turns to return to her duties.
“I’m not buying that. C’mon, what’s her story?” Barnes tosses his pillow to try and stop Naomi from walking away.
“Hey, leave her alone, Barnes. Maybe not every woman thinks your God’s gift to women,” Sgt. Diamond reaches for his pillow but stops remembering the IV is in that hand.
“Maybe she don’t care that much for soldiers,” another bunk mate suggests.
Naomi who was trying to avoid the conversation, stops, picks up the pillow, and slowly begins to explain loud enough for the soldiers to hear.
“Never doubt any of the medical staffs’ respect for the contribution of all you guys fighting to end this war. If anything, Marsha, um, Lt. Peyton might just care too much.”
“I told you there’s a story. You know what it is, don’t you, Naomi,” Barnes persists.
“If I do, I won’t be telling it. It’s not my place to tell it,” Naomi tosses Barnes’ pillow up on his bunk and turns again to leave.
“Go ahead, Naomi, tell them my story,” Lt.Marsha Peyton stands at the entrance to this section of the tented hospital.
“It isn’t mine to tell, Marsha and you don’t owe these guys that much, especially Barnes, the most disrespectful questioning your dedication to your duty.”
Marsha thinks on this awhile and then replies, “Maybe I do.”
Marsha walks to the center of the room of a dozen or so bunks, all full of soldiers, wounded in action. Naomi meets her there, places a hand on her arm, and tries to communicate compassionate support with her eyes.
“I hope you know what your doing,” Naomi whispers as she tugs gently on Marsha’s sleeve.
Marsha smiles and pats Naomi on the arm assuring Naomi that this will be good and right.
“I apologize if my behavior lately has been offensive to you. Clifton, I do care about you and want you and everyone of you to recover to where you were when you left home or as close to that as we can,” Marsha declares folding her hands in front of her.
Marsha walks up to the foot of Clifton Barnes’ bunk, places both hands on the metal foot of the bed. She gazes for a few seconds directly into Barnes’ eyes. He begins to feel uncomfortable and turns his head enough to avoid her eyes.
“Clifton, I know you’ll have a full recovery and you’ll return to the fighting, shortly, where we need you – the world desperately needs you.”
She turns around and quickly looks around the room before turning back to Clifton Barnes.
“Some of you will recover enough to be sent on to the next echelon for more and better treatment and you’ll fully recover there and be returned to active duty where we need you.”
“Stop, Lieutenant, we get where you’re going with this. Some of us won’t recovery fully and some of us will not recover at all,” Sgt. Diamond interrupts.
“My problem is,” Marsha looks away from Barnes and down at her own hands, “apart from helping you live and not die, I can’t decide which of those soldiers am I truly helping. And I’m ashamed to think that way but I can’t help it.”
Marsha turns to Clifton Barnes who slowly forces himself to look at her. He can see the pain of the struggle from the expression on her face.
“I’m sorry, Clifton,” Marsha says, her hands gripping tightly to the foot of his bed.
Clifton lowers his head but raises it again sensing her staring at him. He begins to reply but doesn’t know what to say.
Before Clifton can say anything, Marsha whirls around, gasps one “I’m sorry” to the room and quickly leaves the room.
Naomi takes a moment to gaze into the eyes of each of the soldiers, turning her body in a full 180 degrees. She ends her pirouette intentionally in Barnes’ direction.
“Does that answer your question, Corporal Barnes?”
Barnes, head still bowed, slowly raises it to Naomi’s repeating of the question. He shakes his head to answer.
“Now, let me fill you in on what she left out,” Naomi speaks sternly at first but then her voice softens.
“Her brother was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, recovered quickly at the field hospital, was returned to his duty as a Medic where he was killed along with the soldier he was field dressing,” Naomi states, pauses and then shares, “I’m sorry, too. I know this is something each of you has had to realize yourselves. Now, you know, we know.”
Categories: Short Story
I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.