"Liz hurry up! We're going to miss the God damn train!" my brother George bellowed at me from downstairs.
I took one last look around my room, sighing sadly before closing the door. I had no idea if or when I would ever return to my room.
"I'm coming, I'm coming, calm down would you!" I shouted back, rushing down the stairs with my small duffel bag.
George and I were leaving for Camp Toccoa that day, both of us training to serve our country in the Army. George was training to become a paratrooper and I was entering the Nurse's Corps.
The ride to the train station was long and silent, our parents were still angry at us that we had enlisted without asking them first. When we finally pulled up to the train station George got out of the car and grabbed our bags out of the trunk, slinging them over his shoulder. We both promised to write to our parents whenever we could and gave them silent hugs goodbye. The whole farewell was very tense and awkward and I began to feel guilty for leaving my parents like this. Mother pulled us both into a tight hug, sobbing but saying nothing, before turning and going back to the car. Our father hugged George and I next , trying to hide his own tears.
"Get back to us safe…both of you" he said, giving my hand a light squeeze. He then turned and walked back to the car sadly. I stood watching him go for what felt like hours.
"C'mon Lizzie we gotta go" I heard George say from beside me as he grabbed my hand and started pulling me towards the train. We found our assigned seats quickly and settled in for the long overnight trip ahead of us.
"Are you sure you wanna do this?" George asked me seriously as the train began to pull away.
"Well, it's kind of too late to change my mind" I laughed, nudging him playfully. "And trust me, I'm sure. I wouldn't be going if I wasn't."
"Are you scared" he asked me, a serious look spreading across his usually goofy face.
"Well… of course I am, I think I'm more afraid of not knowing what's going to happen you know?" I replied, seeing George smirk.
"Wow Liz that's pretty deep" he laughed, shifting to avoid getting a smack in the head. He loved to tease me.
"What about you?" I asked.
"Nope, I'm going to drop into the war and those Germans will hear about me coming and surrender right away" he laughed, sparking up a cigarette.
"Fucking gross" I complained, George knew that I hated the smell of cigarettes but he always smoked around me anyways, always making sure to blow the smoke right in my face for effect.
"Deal with it kiddo" he laughed, shoving me playfully again. "And hey, that's not a very ladylike way to be talking, you're going to fit right in with the guys" he winked at me as I flipped him off.
I pulled my medical manual of my bag, trying to pass some time while George occupied himself with a newspaper that was sitting on the seat beside him. It eventually got too dark to read and I could hardly keep my eyes open anymore. The last thing I heard was George making some stupid joke about me looking like drunk as a skunk because my eyes were drooping closed before I fell into a deep sleep on his shoulder.
"Hey... Wake up Liz, we're here" George said suddenly, patting my face. I opened my eyes and blinked as the bright sunlight hit my eyes like razor blades.
"God your shoulder is bony" I complained at him, rubbing my sore temple.
"Yeah you're one to talk, your head's like a freakin rock, felt like I had a boulder sleeping on me all night" he laughed, lighting up yet another cigarette.
I looked out the window to see Camp Toccoa passing by, noticing several companies of men in PT gear jogging outside in the sweltering heat. An angry looking officer was yelling in their faces as he ran alongside them.
"He looks intimidating" I said, looking over at George who just shrugged. I could tell he was afraid, he didn't want to show it, he was always Mr. Tough guy but I knew a different side of my brother... he was a big softie underneath it all. We pulled into the camp and got off the train and were surrounded by hundreds of other men and nurses looking for where they were supposed to be reporting to. I noticed a heavy set woman a few feet away calling for all nurses to report to her to receive their uniforms and cabin numbers. I guess that is where I am supposed to go...?
"Well, I guess that means me" I said to George gesturing over towards the head nurse. Tears began to fill my eyes, I couldn't stand the thought of leaving my brother. Even though I knew that we were going to be in the same camp, I didn't know how long it would be until I saw him again.
"It's okay Liz" he sniffled, wiping tears away from his own eyes and making some lame comment about how his allergies were acting up. "The camp isn't the whole state of Georgia, its small enough... I'm sure we're bound to run into one another at some point" he added, pulling me into a hug. "And if we don't run into each other then I'll come find you I promise" he said into my hair.
"I love you George" I whimpered as he let go of the hug. He took my face in his hands and gave me a kiss on the forehead.
"I love you too kiddo, go show those nurses what you've got" he winked, giving me a small push towards the other nurses. "Be brave! I promise you'll see me soon" he called after me as I walked away.
I turned back and smiled at him "I'm going to hold you to that" I laughed as he made a face at me. I turned back around, instantly colliding with something solid.
All of the wind was knocked out of me as I fell to the ground like a complete idiot. Way to make a good first impression Liz.
"Oh my gosh miss, I'm so sorry, I should really be watching where I'm going" I looked up past the outstretched hand in front of me into a pair of beautiful brown eyes belonging to a younger-looking soldier.
"It's alright really, I'm the one who should be watching where I'm going" I stammered, trying to calm my racing heart as I felt my face begin to flush as he helped me to my feet.
He was good looking, like really good looking… I quickly shook away the thought as I brushed the grass off of my dress. I am here to do a job.
"I'm Joe... Joseph Liebgott" he replied, stretching his hand out to shake mine.
"Elizabeth Luz" I said, shaking his hand. My face was on fire at this point and he could undoubtedly tell how nervous I was.
"LIEBGOTT, GET OVER HERE AND STOP FRATERNIZING WITH THE NURSES, YOU'RE WEEKEND PASS IS REVOKED" an angry sounding officer yelled from a few feet away making us both start.
"Sorry again Miss Luz" Joseph said, dropping my hand reluctantly. "Maybe I'll see you around sometime" he added, shooting me a small smile before turning and jogging towards the officer and saluting him.
"I'd like that" I said quietly as I watched him now getting ripped into by the officer.
I headed over towards the other nurses. As I waited in line to get my uniform and cabin number I couldn't get Joseph Liebgott off my mind and found myself sneaking a few glances back at the company he had joined.
The last time I looked back, he was looking straight at me and smiled at me as I caught his eyes, shaking his head behind the officer who was now screaming at some other poor guy. I laughed and was interrupted by the head nurse at the table in front of me asking for my name.
"Elizabeth Luz" I replied, still red in the face from catching Joseph looking at me. Why was he looking at me anyways? I wondered. He probably thinks I'm a spazz because I ran into him ... great, already making a name for myself. I looked back to where he was previously standing and he was gone along with the rest of his company.
I found myself wondering if I was going to get to see him again.