The View From Here: Chapter 1: The Reason
Disclaimer: All characters and rights belong to the Marshall-LeSourd family. I am in no way seeking to profit from this work.
Background: Two years after "The Road Home". It is 1915, and WWI has begun. Margaret passed away from tuberculosis shortly after her return to the Cove, and David moved out to California to be with Ida after Christy refused his proposal for the second time.
"Doc? Doc MacNeil, you home?"
Wiping the sweat from his brow, Neil MacNeil climbed the slope to his cabin, fishing pole in hand.
"Right here, Ben."
"Wal' howdy Doc. Been nigh' on two weeks since I seen ya' last."
"Aye, Ben, it has been awhile. How's that arthritis of yours?"
"Fair as can be 'pected I s'pose."
"That's good. Did you have something for me?"
"This letter came for 'ya. Looked mighty 'portant and all, so I thought I'd bring it right over." The mailman thrust a flat, ivory colored envelope towards the doctor. Noticing Ben's interest in the letter, Neil slipped it into his back pocket to open at a later time.
"Thank you, Ben. You didn't happen to go by the mission on your way here, did you?"
"Miss Christy's fine doc. She was playin' games wit' the youngins' today at recess." Neil smiled at the mailman's intuition. It'd been his intention all along to find out how his beloved was doing; it'd been a few days since he'd had a chance to see her. They'd begun courting nearly six months prior, and Neil was still astonished at how everyone in the Cove had been aware of their feelings for one another long before either of them had been. With another soft smile, Neil thought of the engagement ring that'd been riding around in his pocket for the past few days. He was just waiting for the right moment.
Taking notice of the doctor's dreamy expression, Ben Pentland decided that he'd best be on his way.
"Wal' Doc, it was nice seein' ya. But I'd best be movin' on. Pile o' letters to deliver."
"Alright, I'll see you later Ben. " Neil watched as the mailman disappeared back into the wooded path from where he'd come. With his thoughts focused on the blue eyed girl who'd captured his heart, Neil absent mindedly turned back towards the river, his letter completely forgotten.
It wasn't until Neil sat down to his dinner hours later that he remembered his letter. Pulling the now rumpled envelope from his pocket, Neil was surprised to find a Scottish postmark. He hadn't written anyone in Scotland for years. Tracing the imprint made by his name upon the heavy paper, he tried to place the handwriting. It was familiar, yet…
Livingston! Dr. Richard Livingston! The English doctor had been Neil's mentor when he was attending school in Edinburgh. He hadn't heard from him in years! Excited to see what Richard had to say, Neil tore open the envelope and unfolded the sheets of paper within.
I know that it had been many years since we have spoken to one another. It must've been at least three or four years ago. There is much to write about, but I have precious littlie time.
As you know, Europe is at war. Some weeks ago, I received a letter from a colleague of mine, an ophthalmologist, requesting that I journey to France. They way they are fighting this war, with trenches and such, is causing disease to run rampant. Unfortunately, one of the most common diseases is trachoma. Doctors are needed here to study this disease, and to treat soldiers at the frontlines. When I heard of this opportunity, my first thought was of you. I recently read of your success with the Ghost Procedure, as you so aptly named it, in a medical journal. Naturally, I mentioned it to my colleague, and he suggested that I extend an invitation to you. Neil, it would be the opportunity of a lifetime. Only the finest medical doctors in their fields are gathering, and for part of the time, you would be able to study at one of the most renowned medical facilities in the world. However, you do not have to accept.
Make no flippant decisions Neil. Not only would you be away from your home for nearly three months, you would also be in the midst of violent battles. There is a chance that you may be injured, and there is a chance that you may not survive. But my dear friend, hundreds of men will die without your help. And although, I bid you to consider this proposal carefully, I must also urge you to make a decision soon.
As the warfare expands into the oceans, sea travel will become far more dangerous. I will expect your decision within the month.
Dr. Richard Livingston
Put simply, Neil was flabbergasted after reading his mentor's letter. Him? A country doctor, journey to the battlefields of Europe to treat soldiers? He could not fathom it. It was a once in a lifetime chance though; a chance to change mankind for the better.
However, he could not think only of himself. Had it been a few years ago, his bags would already be packed, and he would be on a steamer across the Atlantic. Now, there was Christy to consider. How could he ever leave her? The simple truth was, he knew that if it was left to him, he could not.
She was the light of his life. Without her, there was no telling where he'd be today. When Margaret had passed nearly two years prior, he'd been confronted by a grief he hadn't expected. Christy had been his lifeline. She'd pulled him from the brink of self-destruction with her love and her faith. She was the reason for his existence. It had been a cold December night when Neil MacNeil had placed his life and his trust in the hands of the Lord. After that, there had been no barrier between the two of them, and a relationship had begun to develop.
His dinner forgotten, he laid the letter on the table. He'd leave the decision up to Christy. One simple, two letter word from her, and he'd be going nowhere. Tomorrow he would ask her, tomorrow.
A/N: So no Christy in this chapter, but I promise that we will be seeing plenty of our blue-eyed stubborn schoolteacher in chapter 2. Will Neil go to France? And, if he does, will he come back? As for my other works, I am happy to say that the next chapter in Love Takes Wing, is written and ready to be typed up. After that though, I cannot say when the next chapter will be up. Cracks is on hiatus until further notice. Reviews are always greatly appreciated, and often get me writing again. Improvements? Suggestions? Requests?*I love writing short little one shots. Thanks so much for reading. Hope everyone had great holidays! ~Sarah