L'Enfer

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ii

The fifth day in the month of August, year nineteen hundred and fourteen, evening

My chest aches terribly. The bandages keeping my breasts hidden under my uniform are digging into my skin, and I am worried it will bruise, possibly even scar. I did not realise that it would cause such a problem – I only hope that I get used to it. I have to go to the end of the war with these bandages on, though, hopefully, it will only be a few months. What a relief it will be, to finally be able to take them off! I am somewhat worried how I will bathe, as I noticed all the men must get in together and wash. I’m sure that I will find a way around this, however.

The work today was relatively easy compared to what I know will be ahead. A few bullets found their way across the battlefield, only a few hitting their mark and injuring the soldiers. No one died, luckily. Oh, but how horrid a sound they make! I can hear the explosions of their guns even now – do the Germans ever sleep? The cry of a soldier piercing the night is incredibly unsettling to listen to. It disturbs the silence, though it frightens the crickets, reminding me that this is war, and it is an incredibly dangerous affair. I write this because I heard the noise, only a few moments ago. The soldier sounds so frightened, should I help him?

--

He’s dead. His name was Pierre Gauthier. I ran out to the source of the cries, out of instinct more than anything else, and dragged his writhing body to the nurses. He stopped screaming just as I took him inside, and I knew I had been too slow. What is shocking to me is that no one went out of try and save him. Did they know it was a lost cause, or did they simply not care? How could a man not care for his fellow man? The thought is hard to process, and it is not something I wish to think about further. Has war made beasts of these men? I ask too many questions. Armand always said so.

My hand is trembling as I write this; I have never had anyone die in my arms. He was so young, so young, and I know that many more will lose their lives. He was only guarding the camp, only doing his job, nothing more. I hope that God will guard that man against all evil. In a sense, he is lucky that he went to Heaven, instead of going to Hell for having to kill someone, like I know I will eventually have to do. I wish that it did not have to be this way, as there are many ways to solve conflicts rather than send innocent men to battle. But I am a woman, what do I know of war?

Yes, it has occurred to me that what I am doing is entirely illegal. But I did not wish to be a nurse. I want to help my husband, be on the front lines with him, should I have to. Even as a nurse, there is no guarantee that I will be able to heal him should he become injured, like the man I attempted to bring back to the camp.

I must rest now, as Sébastien has said that the officers will wake us up quite early in the morning. I appreciate the help he is giving me, as he can clearly see that I do not know my way around, yet he is not treating me like a child, either. I have noticed, now, that I am not the only one watching Armand carefully. My husband’s new friend, Alain, as well as Sébastien, have also been keeping close to him. I wonder, does he know how safe he is, now? Granted, I doubt that I would, but I hope he knows at least how likeable he is. That little smile, innocent laughter, as well as his awful jokes. I miss those dearly, and could use a joke or two at this moment.

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