Healing

“Sergeant Evans?”

“Yes Lance Corporal?”

“You have a visitor.”

“One moment please,” Evans swung his feet around and slowly got out of his bed. He straightened his gown and looked around the room. The other bed was empty. Howe had been sent back to the 202nd a few days earlier and he hadn’t gotten a roommate yet. He sighed, “Send them in Lance Corporal.”

An officer stepped through the door, head bowed so he couldn’t see their face… for some reason. Lieutenant and a woman. Evans didn’t have to salute because he was out of uniform, but he came to attention, “Ma’am?”

The Lieutenant used her right foot to close the door. Lieutenant Chambers looked up and smiled, “Miss me Goldfish?”

“Lucy?” Evans smiled, “You picked up Lieutenant?”

“Yep, So, I was in town and heard you were here and decided to stop by and say hello.”

“Aren’t you not allowed to just stop by these places?”

“Eh,” Lucy smiled and shrugged, “I greased a few palms… And a few other places. If you know what I mean.”

“Eww,” Evans shook his head.

“I fucked the guy who-”

“Please don’t,” Evans put his hand over his face, “Just tell me why you’re here.”

Lucy sat down on the empty bed, placing her hat on the end table, “Well first off, he was hot. Secondly… You’ve been asking around about the Duchess Medway.”

“You know what happened to her?”

“You can’t tell anyone I’ve told you this. Newacre wants in hush hush. I’m not even supposed to have this information. We Intel officers have our ways.”

“Please don’t tell me your ways and just tell me what’s happening with Major Kestel,” Evans sat down on his bed and leaned towards Lucy.”

Lucy pulled an envelope out of her jacket and handed it to Evans, “That’s the whole story. You’ll want to burn it when you’ve read it. Short story, she’s alive, but she’s had to go through multiple major surgeries and has been in and out of consciousness. Even if she pulls out of this, she’s definitely out of the war. In a private letter I… Got my hands on… it was said that they’re going to force her to either take a posting in Newacre or resign her commission.”

Evans took the envelope, “Thank Lucy. I appreciate it. I owe you one.”

Lucy smiled and patted him on the shoulder. Then smirked and said, “I know a way you could repay me.”

“Still happily married.”

“So not even you and her Grace?”

“Eww… That would be disgusting.”

“Well that ruins the smutty books I read,” Lucy frowned, “Well I should be going, I have a shit ton of documents to translate.”

Waking Up in Hospital

Slowly opening his eyes, Evans looked around the dark room. Where was he? Pain shot down his side when he attempted to sit up. He swore.

“Ughhh…” A somewhat familiar voice spoke up, “You’re up Sergeant?”

Rolling his head to face the voice, he recognized Howe, “Private?”

“Yes Sergeant. We’re roommates for the moment.”

“Why?” He paused, “Why aren’t you off in a room with a bunch of lower ranks? No offense.”

“You Sergeant. According to what the nurses told me, you brought me to the aid station, gave my name, and collapsed. Your rank warranted you a room with one other person. They didn’t know who you were and since I appeared to know you, they put me in your room so I could identify you… Your wounds were much worse than mine… And once I woke up, they didn’t have enough space to bring me back to the lower enlisted room.”

“Oh God. So they thought I was… Did they… Anna, my wife… Did they tell her I was killed or anything… Again?”

“I was only unconscious for a few days. And they sent a telegram to her.” Howe pointed to the nightstand next to Evans’ bed, “You’ve got some letters next to your bed.”

“And any word on the Duchess Medway?”

“Wounded in the retreat. Very badly from the rumors I’ve heard.”

“And the battle? Did we hold?”

“We held.”

His eyes started to feel heavy and the world went black again.

 

His right hand was warm. His bed was tilting to the side. Someone was stroking his hair. His eyes slowly opened, “Anna?”

The blurry figure above him smiled. He heard a confused “Yes” to his right followed by a quick, “Oh, right… Your wife…”

Anna laughed, “I’m here James.”

“The kids?”

“At home. In Medway. Someone’s taking care of them. They’re too young to travel that distance.”

“I love you Anna.”

“I love you too James,” Anna smiled, “Get better soon so we can work on the fourth kid.”

“Ewww… No married talk,” Howe paused, “Sergeant.”

Anna giggled.

“My leg hurts pretty bad and I’d rather not try anything. Plus with Private Howe in the room.”

“Yes. with me in the room Sergeant.”

Anna turned to Howe, “So do you have anyone in your life Miss Howe?”

“No Mrs. Sergeant Evans.  Still waiting for my knight in shining armor,” She laughed, “Really, anyone who I haven’t seen covered in mud or blood.”

Evans looked at Howe, “How long was I out?”

“Ten days the first time. One week this time. And before you ask, No news on Duchess Medway. They’re keeping that locked up pretty tight.”

“Thank you Private. Now, could you give my wife and I some privacy?”

There was a pause before Howe responded, “Not really. Sergeant. I did get shot after all.”

“Right,” Evans turned back to Anna and shrugged, “Well I guess you can’t say anything private.”

“That’s alright,” Anna bent down and kissed him, “We can talk about the kids.”

Rally Point

After a few minutes, he found his way to the line of soldiers retreating from the first two lines. They parted to the side when saw Evans had Howe over his shoulders. He eventually reached the rally point at the fifth line. He shouted at the first officer he saw, “Ma’am! Which way to drop off wounded?”

The officer pointed towards a communication trench, “That way Sergeant.”

“Thank you Ma’am,” Evans replied as he ran into the communication trench. A shell burst on the ground above nearby and showered Evans with dirt, with some of it hitting his legs. He shuddered a bit and kept running. After a few more minutes, he made it to the dressing station.

A soldier directed him to a litter, “Over here! Put her down, a nurse will be with you quickly. Stay with her until we can get the information down.”

Nodding, Evans made it to the empty litter and put Howe down. She smiled and said something softly. Evans nodded and put his hands in his pocket. Fuck. Her blood had gotten down there too. At least he was at the dressing station.

A Nurse came over with a clipboard and asked a few questions, “Her Name and Unit?”

“Private Anna Howe, 202nd Infantry, Fox Company.”

“Nature of Injury?”

“Gun shot to the stomach area..”

“Any Treatment?”

“I cleaned the wound with alcohol and applied a field dressing.”

“And how about you?”

“Excuse me?”

“How are you wounded, who are you, etcetera.”

Shaking his head, Evans responded, “Oh, I’m not wounded, the blood’s from Private Howe.”

“You might want to sit down soldier.”

Evans looked down. His leg had several pieces of shrapnel sticking out of it. He lifted up his shirt and saw more blood coming from there. He looked at the Nurse, “Oh Fuck Me.” And passed out.

Retreat

“FALL BACK TO THE SECOND LINE!” Major Kestel shouted to the remains of Fox Company.

Evans heard a short gasp to his right. He turned and saw Howe crumple to the ground. Evans knelt down next to her and pulled her head towards him. She blinked. Good. No time to find the wound. Dropping his rifle, Evans picked up Howe and put her over his shoulders. She said something softly into his ear which he couldn’t hear, on account of the gunfire and artillery. He felt something hot and sticky dripping down his neck. It pulsed. Blood. Not a huge amount, but she would die if she didn’t get to a dressing station soon. Evans hated himself for having this knowledge. Fuck. A few years before, he had been a simple farmer. And now he was a fucking expert on death. He hadn’t even written a letter to his his family in over a month. What was he supposed to say?

He tried to get to a dressing station, but they seemed to be in a general retreat. Fuck. Running out of time. Evans knelt down and laid Howe onto an empty firestep and looked her over. Blood seemed to be centered on her abdomen. OK. Evans unbuttoned her jacket. Her shirt was stained red. Peeling up her shirt slowly, Evans got a better look at the wound. He pulled out his field dressing kit. Huh, small bottle of alcohol. Evans looked at the label. He poured a little bit into Howe’s mouth then poured the rest onto her wound.

Howe screamed quite loudly.

Evans reached his hand over her mouth and muffled her scream.

Reaching into his kit, Evans pulled out a long bandage and started to apply it to the wound.

She mouthed the word “Thanks.”

“No worries kid. I’ll get you out of here.” Evans finished bandaging her up and slowly buttoned up her jacket. Alright. Now to get her out of here. Putting her back over his shoulders, Evans attempted to make his way back up the line. He reached the third line where the Ethslin infantry was holding.

Shouting, an officer said, “WHO ARE YOU WITH?”

“202nd!”

“WE’RE THE 107TH! FIRST TWO LINES HAVE FALLEN, AND WE’RE GONNA FALL SOON FALL BACK TO THE RALLY POINT AT THE FIFTH LINE!”

Evans nodded, shifted Howe to a more comfortable position and kept running back. Fuck. Third line about to fall. How many others from the 202nd had survived? I mean, he was on the tail end of the retreat, and he hadn’t seen any enemy troops to the Second Line yet, so… With any luck, limited casualties.