The Proposal

Over The Top, 1918, oil on canvas, by John Nash, Imperial War Museum.

She was never sure just what planets converged that they might meet. In all the horror of the mud, the blood and cries of pain, he smiled at her and said “Water, please. And I’ll marry you for your generosity.”

Like the others, he’d been prodded out of the trenches, the burrows where men ate, slept, wept, and kept on. “Over the top, m. . .” The sergeant never finished the sentence as shell fragment pierced his neck.

And over they went. Too many each time meeting the Messiah. Hung up on barbed wire. Picked off by snipers. Hit with artillery. Gains measured in inches, in feet. A whole generation lost to the folly and  romantic ideals of war.

“Mine’s the folly,” she thought. Working in a nursing station not far from the front, she saw the limits men’s bodies could be put to. She learned not to gag, not to show any negative emotion, no matter how badly wounded, not matter how infected the limb, no matter which limbs had been lost.

The thirsty man, shot in the tendon, would recover, but always with a limp. He felt himself lucky.

She very carefully applied poultices to his wound, pulling out the poisons that cost men mightily. Peroxide to stop new infections.

She was prickly, sharp like nettles, but he was sure he could intenerate her. After all, he had already proposed.

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Wordle 66, June 22, 2015

@ Phylor, 2015


12 thoughts on “The Proposal

  1. Candy June 23, 2015 / 6:56 pm

    This is a great slice of war made intimate by your characters!


    • phylor June 23, 2015 / 9:06 pm

      Thank you, Candy.
      For those who signed on to WW1, it was the romance of wars past. In the trenches, these fancies turned deadly.
      Shell shock was the PTSD of 1914-18.


    • phylor June 22, 2015 / 10:54 pm

      Thanks Dell. As you can read by my responses to the comments, not original but riffing on a theme.


  2. C.C. June 22, 2015 / 1:29 pm

    Ah, love in the midst of war. Great story-telling here. Very believable.


    • phylor June 22, 2015 / 2:10 pm

      Thank you. I’m happy I created a believable scenario.
      I am fascinated by WW1 and the way the world was never the same again. The role of women at the front and at home (worked in factories like WW2) is understated compared to Rosie the Riveter.
      Also influenced by television, movies, books. I always hope that there can be love within war.


  3. summerstommy2 June 22, 2015 / 12:56 pm

    I agree excellent tale and use of the words. I saw recently a British TV show called the “Crimson Fields” which dealt with a nurses station behind the trenches.


    • phylor June 22, 2015 / 1:52 pm

      There is a mystery series centred around a field nurse in WW1, and Miss Fisher of the tv show, Miss Fisher’s Mysteries was supposed to have been an ambulance driver in WW1.
      If you look at the names on WW1 monuments, there will be at least 5 women’s names.


      • phylor June 22, 2015 / 2:12 pm

        I hope PBS will show it here.
        They do air a lot of British television, especially the mystery series: Sherlock, Inspector Lewis (of Inspector Morse), Endeavour about Inspector Morse when he first joins the police force.
        I’ll do a bing and see what I find.
        The first mystery series is in book form, but could certainly be done in other media!


  4. mindlovemisery June 22, 2015 / 8:54 am

    My God I was totally absorbed in this, brilliant story-telling and I love the way you tied it together in the end


    • phylor June 22, 2015 / 9:18 am

      Thanks for the compliment. I pictured a WW1 nurse when I read the wordles, and she and he told their own story.

      Liked by 1 person

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