Letters From War: Verdun

Based upon Sanctuary created by Damian Kindler

"I operated in the trenches at Verdun, at least here I don't have to worry about the mud or the rats."

-Helen Magnus, Firewall

. . . ~ ~ . . .

My dearest James,

I apologize for not writing you sooner. As you can imagine, I haven't had a great deal of time to sit down and draft a letter. However, today was a good day. The infections of three of my patients are finally abating and there were no amputations this morning.

The conditions here are as to be expected. Cramped. Unhygienic. All together generally unpleasant. The small bunkroom I share with the other physicians and select medical personnel is an unfortunate wallow. There are more men than beds and far too often sleep is found on the muddy floor. However, I must say that the French are chivalrous, perhaps even to a fault. They have assigned me my own cot and will not allow me to seek refuge elsewhere.

Yesterday, one of the new physicians was sleeping there, and as I began to bed down on the floor, one of my colleagues, Captain Debois, threw the man from the bed. The newcomer then promptly apologized for his outlandish behavior and claimed not to know that the cot was reserved for a woman.

I find myself less sensitive to the soldiers' assumptions of any inabilities I may have due to my gender. Many of them seem comforted by my presence and by the opportunity to 'take care' of a woman. As you well know, I never would have accepted that type of behavior in the past, however this is a different time and a different place.

You would be pleased to know that I am not completely isolating myself from the others. In fact, I have made an acquaintance who insists we are friends. His name is Jean Pierre, and he seventeen years old. He was removed from his regiment when an officer recognized him and exposed him for being underage. However, in light of the situation, he was simply sent to us as an assistant and will be sent back to the front after his birthday.

He has taken to bringing me things. In the past week, he has brought me chocolates and rose scented soap. He claims that I remind him of his older sister. I believe he is infatuated with me. Either way, he is a delightful and charming companion, as well as a more than capable assistant. He has the talent to become an excellent surgeon, if he should so desire or survive to do so.

I praise him of his helpfulness often and he awards me with blush and boyish smile. Remind him of his sister, indeed.

My young friend notwithstanding, your absence is noticed and deeply regretted. There are times I wish I were with you in London. I then recall that you are dealing with politicians, and instead I wish you were here, to relieve us both of our misery.

Stay safe and patient, my dearest friend. I look forward to the end of this war, and sharing that warm cup of tea you must surely owe me.

Ever yours,

Helen

. . . ~ FIN ~ . . .