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FIC: Minus One

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  • Laura A. D.
    A few miles inland from Omaha Beach, June 9, 1944. One shot. A bit of Logan s past. ... Shrapnel. It was just a chunk of shrapnel, about the size of a tennis
    Message 1 of 1 , May 12, 2005
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      A few miles inland from Omaha Beach, June 9, 1944. One shot. A bit of
      Logan's past.
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      Shrapnel. It was just a chunk of shrapnel, about the size of a tennis
      ball, twisted and ugly. It still bore the stains of his blood, they
      had faded to a dark brown color, and the scent had completely faded.
      She kept it, for all these years, she had kept it. No, not as a
      souvenir, it was never that, it more served as a reminder of what she
      had witnessed that day over fifty years ago. Every year on this day,
      she would take it out and look at it, smiling, replaying every scene
      that she could remember, every word that he said to her, what he
      looked like, and the cadence of his voice. She, of course, never
      spoke of what she had witnessed, never to her husband, never to her
      children or grandchildren for that matter, because she promised she
      wouldn't.

      She was one of the first women to land in Normandy on D-Day, a nurse
      of the 48th Surgical Hospital. It was horrifying when they got there.
      They were told to grab hold of the bodies in the surf and to use them
      as protection from German snipers and the artillery fire from the
      Pointe et Raz de la Percée. Several of her fellow nurses did not make
      it through the waters onto the beach, but she did not think of that
      while she worked. She had a job to do.

      When they brought his body in, things were at their worst. Stretchers
      occupied every available space, the wounded lay next to the dead, and
      no one had slept for several days. She wasn't sure why they even
      brought him in, he obviously was going to die, his body, or what was
      left of it, resembled the meat her mother made sausages out of. His
      heart continued to beat; she didn't have time to try to understand
      how. She said a prayer, like she always did, and then covered him
      with a blanket and moved on; there were too many wounded soldiers
      there that needed her.

      It was two days and a brief nap later when she noticed he was still
      there on the ground, still covered, but the blanket was no longer
      army issue green, too much blood had soaked into it. She sighed to
      herself, this poor soul, he has a mother back home who would wonder
      what had ever happened to her baby, so the nurse decided to see if he
      still might have his dog tags on.

      When she threw back that blanket, she got the shock of her life. This
      man was whole! Or nearly so. There were piles of shrapnel on both
      sides of him, along with so many bullets that she could not even
      guess the number. He still had large gaping holes in his body but
      they looked as if they were drawing close by themselves. He was
      breathing, it was not labored either, it was a regular breathing, as
      if he was simply sleeping. She decided right then and there, that no
      one was going to know about this, this was too wondrous, and
      sometimes things this wonderful can find a way of becoming ugly. She
      quickly covered him back up, and slowly dragged him, behind some
      supplies, and then she waited. Over the next few hours, while her
      superior officer thought she was sleeping, she watched. More metal
      was pushed out of his body, along with bullets; the flesh mended
      itself before her eyes. She found herself weeping; this had more of
      an effect on her than the horrors that she had witnessed these last
      few days. She actually nodded off for a while, her body needed to
      heal as well. When she finally awoke, after what could not have been
      more than an hour's sleep, the last wound was closing. The man moaned
      softly and his eyes fluttered open, he sniffed the air and turned his
      head towards her.

      "Water."

      She quickly found a canteen nearby and held it to his lips as he
      drank deeply. Her mind was racing with questions but she held her
      tongue. What was left of his uniform top fell off as the man sat up.

      "Where am I?"

      She swallowed and took a deep breath before answering. He nodded his
      head, closed his eyes for a moment before asking another question.

      "What is your name?"

      "Kathryn Sinclair. What's yours?"

      He cocked his head at her; trying to decide if he should tell her the
      truth, it could prove quite dangerous for him, if she reported what
      she had seen. But he liked what he saw in her eyes, she had the look
      of someone he could trust.

      "Lieutenant James Howlett," he replied softly and then added, "Can ya
      get me a uniform?"

      She glanced around, stood up, made sure no one was looking their way
      and then took one from a shelf, thinking it just might fit. She
      turned her back while he got dressed, and then led him outside.

      "I have to leave, Kathryn, but I need ya to do something for me."

      "What is it Lieutenant?"

      "Don't tell anyone what ya saw."

      "I won't, I promise."

      "Thank you."

      He took a deep breath, and smiled sadly and said, "One day I would
      like to see France when there is no war going on."

      "Yeah, me too."

      "Last time I was here, there were a hellava lot more trenches though."

      People were beginning to give them curious looks, so she thought if
      he was going to go, this was the time to do so. She smiled warmly at
      him, reached out, grasped his hand in hers and said, "Good bye James."

      "Good bye, Kathryn."

      With that, he walked away; her eyes followed him until he disappeared
      over a small hill. She turned around and went back into the tent,
      over to that stretcher, and gathered and discarded all evidence of
      his existence, minus one.
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