October 28, 1943

They say that a particular flower blooms on Mother's Hill the day one is to perish. It is white, and it grows only in infertile soil. Some say this is because it steals the life out of the living; that is why it is called the Flower of Death.

Today one bloomed. The town was wary; mothers kept their children inside, shops closed, everyone was tense. Each hoped that themselves or a loved one wouldn't be the one to pass.

This was the first time I had ever witnessed the flower. I was gathering herbs on the mountain when I came upon it. It was beautiful; it appeared as if it were glowing, like a lone star in the grey night sky. I picked it to show to my grandmother, who was unable to leave our home any longer. As I was approaching my home, a woman asked to see it, since she collected rare flowers. Soon the town had known of my discovery. Everyone is waiting now.

But I don't believe in superstitions.

Chapter 1

Three years prior

I removed the damp cloth from my forehead. A nurse with the common cold, who would have thought? "Well this is no good," I said aloud to myself, dipping the cloth into the cool water again.

I had just recently taken the job at the clinic as the doctor's assistant, and was quite pleased when the villagers began to call me "Nurse Elli". That wasn't exactly what I was, for I only assisted the doctor by bringing the supplies he needed when he called for them. Still, the title had a nice ring to it, and soon I even started thinking of myself as an RN. One had to admit, the job was impressive for my age. Leaning on the edge of nineteen, I hadn't even finished with my schooling yet. But I was qualified the doctor said, and he was in need of an assistant.

The pay definitely wasn't bad, either. My grandmother was beginning to tire, and she rarely got out and around anymore. This put the family income in danger. Many of the villagers helped out of course, but unfortunately it was not enough to support the household. So I decided to find a part-time job. I had often visited the clinic, for my younger brother Stu was commonly getting scrapes and cuts, and the doctor was more than happy to help.

However, it did have its downsides. I rarely had time for much else anymore, and my social life definitely wasn't at its peak. Furthermore, I had no time for a boyfriend, nor any conversation with any of the local guys, except for when they came in need of medical attention. Sometimes my only motive for keeping the job was for my love of helping others. And the title wasn't too bad.

I lied back down on the sofa, a handkerchief enclosed in my hand. Doc had given me the day off, and I had taken the opportunity to work on a paper and tend to my dripping nose. Nevertheless I knew when Stu arrived home he would be bursting with energy, and I would be the one to clean up after him. Though, I didn't expect him for a little while, and I took advantage by gradually dozing off to sleep.

I was stirred an hour later when Stu came jolting into the house, screaming and playing with May. "You'll never take me alive, evil infiltrator of justice!" he yelled, jumping onto the end of couch I was occupying and grabbing a pillow as a shield.

May stood in the doorway, cocking her head at the rambunctious boy, who had now grabbed a toy sword and swung it vigorously, admiring his own moves. "This wasn't exactly what I meant when I said we should play house," she pointed out.

"Nonsense!" Stu yelled back, still swinging the sword, "I'm protecting us from the thieves!"

"Thieves?" she said, now impatient, "Thieves don't even go into houses with nothing to steal!"

On any other occasion I might have joined in their humorous display, but seeing as I wasn't exactly feeling the greatest, I scolded Stu for getting mud on the couch. "Geez Elli, I was on a roll!" Stu grumbled, jumping off the sofa. I felt bad for ruining the kid's fun, but I did not feel like cleaning today.

Once May's grandfather had picked her up and Stu was busy working on homework in his room, I settled down to a hot cup of tea. Breathing in the steam, I tried clearing up my sinuses. No use. I felt bad for leaving the doctor on his own, but I would have to go down in the morning to tell him I needed another day off.