My Eyes Can't See
Name and Rank: Captain. Niklaus Edward Mikaelson.
Division: 56th (London) Infantry Division
DOB: 13th January 1920.
Place of Birth: London, England.
Family: Father Mikael, Mother Esther, Sister Rebekah, and Brothers Elijah (11th Armoured Division), Finn (1st Anti-Aircraft Division) and Kol (1st Airborne Division).
Details of injury: Routine patrol, when a shell landed in the vicinity. Cpt. Mikaelson was injured when pushing his men away to safety. He suffered from broken ribs and from loss of vision. This loss of vision may only be temporary, however, but doctors are still unsure of this.
Caroline Forbes shut the file as she headed to Section C, Bed 14, where Captain Mikaelson resided. The Matron had just caught up with her to present it to her personally. As Caroline personally took Section C Beds 1-25, she would usually just pick it up from the administration desk, but the fact that the Captain had been possibly tracked as receiving an award for his bravery. That meant the top brass wanted him treated well. Caroline didn't like that, as she thought all soldiers should be treated equally, but hey ho. Most of the soldiers she treated were American, so seeing an English soldier was quite exciting for her. Of course she wasn't excited by his plight.
As she walked through Section B, she noticed a priest do a sign of the cross on the forehead of a seemingly unconscious young man. After he did, he stood up and the two nurses standing by the bed moved forward and put a white sheet over his body. The men on the beds next to him nodded respectfully, and Caroline swore that the one immediately to his left let slip a tiny tear for his fallen friend.
The kid looked no more than eighteen. He couldn't even drink yet, and he was dead in a hospital thousands of miles away from his family.
Shaking her head, she continued on her rounds.
Whilst Caroline's life had been not totally sheltered, life in small town Virginia had not prepared her for the total misery that was war. Every day, she was plagued by the sight of men dying before her eyes, often in agony, begging for mothers or lovers. Boys as young as eighteen were brought in on stretchers, missing limbs or permanently scarred by the redness of burns marks. In the offices, women took names of those who had died in order to start writing that painful letter.
Dear Sir and Madam,
I am deeply sorry to inform you that your son, Lt. X was killed in action on the morning of X.
It never got any easier.
Arriving at Section C, she was greeted by that familiar sight. On one side, two soldiers- one with a missing leg, the other with a patch over his eye, were happily playing cards. On another, a GI listened with a solemn face as the doctor explained the surgery that he would be having, nodding with a pained expression at his words.
A couple of the men, and the triage nurse Betsy greeted her. She greeted them back before circling down to Bed 14.
The man's head snapped up. Beneath his dirty blonde hair, his eyes were completely covered by bandages, already dull in colour.
"My name is Caroline Forbes, I will be your nurse."
"A pleasure, love. Is that a Yank accent I year?"
She went into the seat by his bed, and reached for the jug of water, pouring it into the glass. Hearing this, the Captain held out a hand, clearly wrapping it round the cup as soon as he felt it against his palm. Slowly, he drank.
"So, I'm blind then, that's new."
"Well," Caroline replied briskly, "The doctors think it may not be permanent, that's a piece of good news. Besides, you're a hero- they're talking an Order of Merit for you."
"Just a month ago, I met a French lad. Broken English, but we still managed to converse. His unit had been ambushed by Germans. He managed to kill all of them with a single rifle in the space of half a minute, defended his companions with all sorts of heroic acts. They're talking big honours for him. Does he care? No, because the guy who became his best friend in basic training lay dead in front of him, caught in the crossfire. I can't even see my bloody hand in front of me, so I can't exactly see a medal."
Caroline was silent.
"Ok, so maybe that was harsh, but you see my point. So, not permanent, you say?"
"So far, maybe not- the damage isn't that extensive. They'll tell you more."
"Roughly how long will I be without my eyes, Nurse Forbes?"
"The doctors will give you an exact time scale, and please call me Caroline. All my patients do. Can I get you anything else before I check your vitals?"
"I'm sure your accent and lack of command of the English language will suffice."
"Excuse me?" Caroline raised an eyebrow.
"You've butchered the King's English, Caroline. Not you, but your nation. It pains me to be surrounded by your countrymen as they use phrases insulting to the ears of a decent Englishman such as myself. I mean sidewalk? It's a bloody pavement."
Caroline laughed as she reached for her watch, "Ok, lay still Captain, whilst I check your heart rate. Relax as much as you can."
Placing a finger on his wrist, she clearly counted as she checked for a minute on the watch.
"Well, your heart rate is perfectly normal, which is good," she scribbled it down on a paper, "Now for your blood pressure."
Reaching for the machine, she wrapped it around his arm.
"Do you have a beau, Caroline?"
"No I don't Captain," she shook her head, "I had one back in Virginia, but he we broke up. War takes its toll in people in the worst ways, but it can affect them in lesser too."
"Shame, a beautiful girl like you all alone."
"I don't know how you can call me beautiful; you don't even know what I look like."
"That's where you're wrong, love."
"Care to explain?" she asked as she pumped the machine up.
"I have a theory that you can get a feel of who a person is and what they look like simply by the sound of my voice. The Matron- Barbara- I can feel it. Short, with jet black hair always up in a tight bun, like the headmistress of my sister's school. Buxom, in the least offensive way possible, and rather large around the middle, but not overtly so. She is firm, but fair and caring about her patients. Has a wicked sense of humour, especially after a few drinks. Favours gin. Am I right?"
Caroline was stunned, so continually measured his blood pressure in silence.
"That silence means I'm right."
"She sometimes likes whisky," Caroline replied quietly, "Blood pressure is a little high, but nothing to be worried about. Try to do something to de-stress."
"Well I can't see my pin-ups."
"Men, indeed. So, don't you want to know what I think about you?"
"Go on, enlighten me."
"You're blonde, of medium height and fair skin. Beautiful in a kind way, sort of like how one would imagine an angel- sweeter than Hayworth, I'd say. Your hair is curled, but only slightly so- not a natural curl- and goes above your shoulders. A slim figure. You became a nurse very soon after Pearl Harbor, along with your closest friends. All you wanted was to help- you'd seen your male friends go off to a terrible war in Europe, and you just wanted to do your part for them and Uncle Sam. Until then, you were training to be a teacher because you love kids, and like I said, you just want to help."
Damn, this guy was good.
"Well, you're right, but I wouldn't exactly say I'm beautiful, per se."
"Your voice suggests otherwise. You have a face that would make help the sun shine on a day full of clouds, one which inspires love in others, where they want to see beauty in things they usually wouldn't."
"Well, that may work on the British girls, but it won't work on me."
"I'm not going to lie; I did attract a fair number of ladies by proclaiming their inner beauty and encouraging them to see their outer beauty."
"Have I got a charmer on my hands, Captain?"
"Please call me Klaus, love, and I am quite afraid you have. Though I saved my men and lost my sight, my only regret is that I have not seen your true beauty."
Caroline burst out laughing.
"True beauty. What are you, Romeo?"
"Gosh, that takes me back to my English Literature lessons back home. 'Did my heart love til now?'"
"First you call me beautiful though you cannot see me, then you quote Shakespeare. You're an interesting man, Klaus. Mouth open, I need to check your temperature."
He did as asked, and Caroline recorded him as being a little peaky, but again with nothing to worry about.
"Well, that is all well and good," she scribbled down the last of the notes, "Unless you need anything else, I'll be going."
"A shame to see a beautiful lady."
"You can't tell," she giggled.
"One day, I'll see again," was his confident reply, "And when I do see again, I will be able to confirm your beauty."
She paused as she left, "You can't be quite sure, Klaus, that you'll ever see again. You can pray and hope, but the doctors still aren't sure."
"I will. I'm a determined man, Nurse Caroline. I will see again."
As the days rolled on, Caroline found herself at Klaus' bedside more.
They learned more about each other. Klaus learned that Caroline was an only child from the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia. Her father was a businessman and her mother was a housewife, though she confessed her mother yearned for more. When war broke out, she'd been a teacher, but as soon as she realised she wanted to serve her country, she trained as a nurse. Her friend Bonnie was an ambulance driver, whilst her friend Elena worked in communications. She hoped that when the war would end- and it would hopefully be soon- that she may continue with nursing, as she'd found her true passion.
Klaus was one of five- formerly six- from London, England, where his father was a barrister. His brothers were all joined up, and they'd all gone together as soon as Churchill had announced it on the radio. Rebekah, his sister, was a nurse stationed in North Africa. She'd been sorry to hear that his youngest brother, Henrik, had died in an automobile accent some years ago. Klaus hadn't really wanted to talk about it, bitterness seeping through his tone, so she hadn't pushed it.
Their meetings always went the same way.
Klaus was convinced that he knew that Caroline was beautiful by her voice. She always argued that he could not truly see her, but he retorted that he did not need his eyes to truly see her.
He'd quote Shakespeare or Latin, she'd laugh.
She'd take blood; he'd tell her that it wasn't that bad.
Caroline knew she shouldn't look forward to seeing patients, as it usually meant they were in pain or needed help, but she always felt that little smile slip on her face when her notes told her that she needed to see him.
Maybe he was a cad, but she felt oddly charmed by his presence.
"My brother was injured."
Klaus threw this at her as she checked his blood pressure one day.
"Which one?" she straightened up.
"Elijah. He got shot by an enemy sniper. He's ok- well, as well as one can be if they've been shot, it only grazed him really. His commander wasn't so lucky, went straight into an artery, bled out there and then."
"I'm so sorry."
"Thank you. They relayed a letter from high command, as we as one from his wife. Katherine's was eerily calm, but she isn't a particularly emotional person. I suppose she had time to write and re-write it. The woman said the letters were perfect, no shakiness."
Caroline continued checking in silence.
"The doctors said there was a similar case to me in one of the other wards- he started seeing shapes, then fuzzy outlines, and then it came back again. Nearly the same injury, shell. I'm not getting my hopes up, though, everything is so different. I haven't seen a thing since I got this."
Again, Caroline was silent.
"If I ask you honestly, do you think I'll ever see again?"
"I'm not a doctor, Klaus. I've tended to hundreds of blindness cases, some of them come back soon, others eventually and some...some not at all. Just because you haven't made progress doesn't mean you won't at all. Let's hope you get your sight back, and this blasted war ends."
"I'm not going to pretend to be a martyr, Caroline, like this is a worthy cause for me. I joined the army for King and country, and I am still proud to say that I did. Thing is, I want my sight back. I want to watch Kol down a pint, I want to chase down the pretty girls and go to the pictures. I am not a noble man, Caroline, and I do not pretend to be. All I want to do is see."
"I pray for you. I pray for all my patients every night before the Lord."
"Your faith is much appreciated, as is the beauty I will eventually see."
She shook her head.
"Always find a way to bring it back to that, don't you?"
"I do, doll, I do. Though I miss my pictures. Haven't clapped eyes on a swimsuit model in far too long."
It went on for weeks.
Until one day.
Caroline breezed through the ward. A patient that they thought would die in the night managed to pull through to the surgery that he needed. Occasions like this always made the job worthwhile, as if she needed any more reason for it to.
Ready to see Klaus, she stopped short when she saw that his bed was empty. All of his possessions were gone, and his bed was neatly made with fresh sheets.
Panic hit her.
"Barbara?" she stopped the passing Matron.
"Where is Kl-I mean, Captain Mikaelson?"
"He's been transferred to a bigger hospital further inland. The surgeons there think they've found a way to save his sight, but it's going to take a lot of time, so his needs are best suited there. It's all in the paperwork. Didn't anyone tell you?"
"Well, no matter. Anyway, no time to stop- they're bringing in Lt-Col Frank Walsh, looks like a case of paralysis from the waist down. Here are the notes; you can do his vitals now."
Nodding at Caroline, the Matron walked away. This left the blonde stunned.
He'd left without saying goodbye?
Maybe he'd never see her beauty.
Caroline threw herself into her work.
For the next two months, she treated and cared, working for the brave men defending their countries. Yet, for some reason, she couldn't quite forget about the cocky blind Englishman who swore he could see what the eye couldn't.
After a couple of night shifts, Caroline had a free day to look forward to. As morning broke, she sat inside the medicine chamber, counting stocks and making sure that nothing had gone missing.
"I told that you'd be beautiful."
She jumped up from her crouching position and whirled around to see a familiar gentleman leaning against the door frame, arms folded. Now, she looked straight into the now-seeing eyes of Captain Klaus Mikaelson.
"Sorry I didn't contact you," he swaggered forward, "They came to me very suddenly, didn't have any time to tell any nurses, and I couldn't exactly write you a note. The hospital kept me busy, some pioneering surgery. It was like you said, it came slow, but one day, I woke up and I could see the sunlight streaming in, as well as a very fine nurse. She, however, was not as beautiful as you are. Notice how I was right- blonde? Medium height?"
"I missed you."
"And I, for some reason, missed you. They offered me a bit of leave before returning to active duty, but I insisted on coming here. I wanted to lay eyes on you."
"I fell for your voice first," he slowly walked towards her, "Then your personality, and then your looks. You're one grand dame, Nurse Caroline. My eyes couldn't see, but I guess I could."
Caroline laughed, before rushing into his arms. Though it was not quite what he expected, he opened them up and allowed her to jump in, spinning her around once he had.
Yep, she was definitely beautiful.
On July 8th 1945, exactly two months after VE Day, Klaus borrowed Elijah's wedding suit, and Caroline wore a second hand white, satin gown.
Seeing her walk down the aisle on her father's arm made him the happiest man alive.
I hope you enjoyed this tale. Though Klaus was lucky enough in this story to get his sight back, not every WW2 veteran did.
They're all heroes.