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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Live, Love, Lose - 33. Chapter 33

Karl’s vision went from pitch black to white.

He was feeling groggy, and couldn’t even remember what had happened before that. He guessed he just needed a little bit of time to get better.

His chest was crossed by a sudden and aching sensation, almost violent as he couldn’t tell where he was.

Could he be…

He sat up mechanically, a bit too abruptly maybe.

No, he couldn’t be.

He stared into space, stupefied. It was nothing familiar. It just looked ugly.

His foggy mind eventually cleared up after a while, and he blinked several times in a row as if it were going to make him remember everything in a flash.

He wasn’t in the Hopkins’s house, he was sure of it. No, he was at the hospital. He remembered everything.

Mr. Hopkins and Mrs. Hopkins leaving the house to go out in the evening. Him playing chess all alone. The bathroom door being locked. Him finding George unconscious in the bath tube. Him calling the number Mrs. Hopkins had written for him. Them arriving after a while and being horrified as they saw George’s unconscious body. And then going to the hospital very rapidly.

He swallowed not without difficulty.

These were things he’d rather not remember.

He checked his arms a bit instinctively and noticed the two cotton balls taped on his left arm. He remembered that too. The two needles in turn. How he gave his blood to save George.

He started slightly. Speaking of him, had he woken up?

They must have taken him to another room.

He just couldn’t understand, still not, why he had done what he had done…he didn’t think there had ever been something that had confused him more than that. It had never even crossed his mind that someone could do such a thing; so of course, he couldn’t understand the reasons behind the act.

The door unexpectedly opened, and he focused his whole attention on it. It was the doctor.

“Ah, you’ve finally woken up,” he seemed pleased as he spoke.

“George,” he didn’t even have time to think before the name fell out of his mouth.

He looked much less enthusiastic as he approached him.

“Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet. But he will! I’ve already told you not to worry about that, haven’t I? It’s just a matter of time.”

He nodded a bit sluggishly as a response.

“Let’s see how you are instead, shall we?”

Maybe he expected an answer, but Karl just contemplated him.

“Here, look, I managed to get you some things to eat. You need to regain some strength after what you went through. That’s not much, but we’re at war.”

He handed him said things. There was a small lump of sugar, two slices of bread, and a bit of cheese. But Karl didn’t even take them. He just stared at them with impassive eyes. He wasn’t particularly hungry. The doctor waited, patiently, but he seemed to figure out he wasn’t willing to take and eat them. He ended up putting them on the small table next to the bed.

“Listen, I know you may not be hungry in this kind of circumstances, but you need to eat. The point is not to make you vomit. Even if it’s only a little bit of something, it will still be better than if you eat nothing at all. Your body needs to recover as well. If you let your negative thoughts take advantage of you, your body won’t follow. Just keep this in mind.”

Maybe he should make an effort after all… Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins had already enough worries with George. He didn’t need to make them twice as worried by starving himself.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to lecture you. I think I’m getting you confused more than helping with all that talk. I just don’t want your state to get worse.”

First, he didn’t need to apologise, and second, yes, he should do that. But he preferred to wait for him to be gone, not that it was against him.

The doctor sighed as he glanced down.

“I know this is not the kind of thing that you can easily shake off your mind, but you’re not alone.” He put a comforting hand on his shoulder as he spoke.

He still didn’t feel like speaking. What could he have answered anyway? The silence was better when you didn’t know what to say.

“It may take some time, but you’ll be alright,” he tapped his shoulder in a friendly way.

“I’m going to leave you to rest some more. Then you’ll be able to go back with Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins.”

He withdrew his hand and stood up from the stool he had been sitting on, and then he walked away closing the door as he left the room.

Karl looked at the food that was on the table and decided to keep true to his word. He took one slice of cheese and started taking a small bite of it, chewing it slowly and carefully.

He just couldn’t help wondering why. Why would someone do that to themselves, their body, why make the blood flow?

It was…terrifying and…disgusting.

But if that happened to George, that meant this also happened to other people…no… He didn’t know what to think anymore.

Life could be really strange sometimes.

*

George had not woken up yet, but at least he was alive, out of danger. Had he died he would have never forgiven himself for letting that happen. He had been very lucky. Many men had not been and still were not.

“Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins.”

Robert looked up to acknowledge Doctor Spencer’s presence.

“Doctor!” Margaret spoke. “Is the news any better?” She still was concerned, but it was quite understandable.

“The little chap has just woken up. You may go and stay with him if you wish. He still needs some rest, but I especially think that he mustn’t stay alone.”

Poor Carl…he wished he had not been there to witness that…He had already had to leave his home and his family; he did not need to get caught in his family’s problems.

“Yes, of course,” Margaret was the one to reply. “Thank you for letting us know.”

“You don’t even need to thank me, Mrs. Hopkins. I’m only doing my job.”

“No, you are doing much more than this.”

That’s what he had always loved so much in her. Her unconditional love, kindness, and selflessness; her positive energy. That’s what had prevented him from drowning completely in bottomless and dark waters for all those years.

“I’d like to think I am. Well, if you’ll excuse me, I have other patients to see.”

“Oh, yes, of course! We didn’t mean to hold you back and keep them waiting.”

We… Sticking together, becoming one, for the better and the worse…

“Robert…”

He turned around to face her and looked her in the eye. She still sounded concerned. He waited for her to keep speaking, silently letting her know.

“You should go and talk to him. You…you are the best person to do this.”

Why had he got a feeling that she should say that?

He licked his lips as he glanced away.

“I am not the best person to comfort him and find the words to reassure him. Even though I wish I could.”

She grabbed his hands swiftly and gave them a light squeeze.

“You can do it. I know you can.”

He knew she was only trying to make him feel better; she always did. But once things are broken, they can never completely be back to the way they were before.

“You know as well as I do that I cannot. You are just trying to talk me into thinking I can, as a form of reassurance, and to make me feel like I am not completely useless.”

She gave him that look. The look that always had him feel guilty deep down.

“You know I don’t like it when you speak that way.”

Of course, she did not. Why should she?

“The truth and reality are not pretty to hear and see most of the time.”

It would not leave her face.

“Please…”

How could he possibly refuse anything to her when she gave him that look?

He resigned to go. He just wished he wouldn’t make things worse than they already were.

He withdrew his hands, letting them slip out of her grip, and she did not oppose any resistance. He turned around and headed towards the room Carl was staying in. However, as he started walking away, he heard his wife call after him.

“Robert…”

He stopped his movement and shifted his position so he was facing her once again.

“What happened to George is not your fault…”

His chest and stomach both ached with that familiar sensation.

“Please…get this idea out of your mind…”

The feeling just intensified with those words.

He chose to remain silent for a few instants before he gathered in him the guts to find his voice.

“I was supposed to look after him. I promised Lewis I would; no matter what.”

He had failed. Miserably. He had let that happen under his roof. He had not been there for him as he should have; hadn’t known how to comfort him…he had not even been able to face him most of the time, out of cowardice or for seeing him in so much pain was something he could not bear. He was not exactly sure which one had dug the tremendous ditch between them. He could not put into words how ashamed he was feeling for that. He somewhat dreaded the moment when George would wake up. He would have some time to brace himself for this, at least.

He showed his back to his wife and resumed what he had started, without ever looking back. The way to the room was not that long. It took him only a few instants to get there. He knocked on the door, waiting for a response. But the more he waited the more likely it seemed that it would never come. He still decided to open the door, leaning forward to see Carl sitting in bed. He entered the room without any hesitation, closing the door immediately behind him.

Carl looked like he was there, but only physically speaking, a feeling he knew all too well. He approached him slowly, his eyes never leaving him as he did. He tried to think about what to say, but the words would not come to him.

“May I?” He asked once he was near him, nodding at the bed.

Their gazes met, and his blue eyes looked empty, and it almost seemed that they had turned into some kind of dull and dirty grey, their innocence stained by all the blood they had seen.

He only received a small nod as a response. He nodded back at him before he sat down on the edge of the bed, careful not to squash any part of his body as he did so. It was not that big, but he preferred that to a stool.

They both remained silent as minutes passed. They did not look at each other as if they did so it would be awkward. Robert stoles several glances at him from time to time though. They both looked the same; lost, helpless, troubled, glum, lethargic.

Robert licked his lips once again. He still could not find the right words, the right way to talk about the matter smoothly. Yet, it was not something complicated that required intense cerebral activity. It just seemed so easy when Margaret did it. It was innate in her. But she had not seen the things he had seen.

He let out a throaty sound that resembled a sigh. But Carl did not even spare him one glance. Perhaps he was simply lost in thought, that was all. He had to say something, anything that could help. He did not like to see him like that. He breathed in and out as he thought that speaking spontaneously was the best way.

“This should have never happened. And you should have never seen that. But because of my carelessness, you did; and the memory will not be erased from your mind.”

This was not…what he should have said... If he only opened his mouth to say such things, it was pointless.

“But I promise I will not let that happen ever again. You must not worry about seeing this twice. I give you my word.”

It sounded like those empty words that you said because otherwise, you would not know what to say; nice, pretty words to give the impression that everything is alright when it is not, and he frowned slightly as the thought crossed his mind. But he meant them.

Was Carl even listening to him? He could not be sure.

He let out a sigh this time. He really could not hold it back. Instead of trying again, he wrapped one arm around the youth’s frame and held him tight against his side. He did not flinch or move to try to free himself. He still did not look at him. But it was not a problem. More time passed as the room was still filled with silence.

“There will always be hard times. But as long as you are here with us, we will face them all together.”

They remained in this position for long minutes during which none of them said a single word. There was nothing more to be added. Why make what is simple so complicated? Humankind liked making things complicated. It was part of their nature.

He knew they could not stay like this forever; but it seemed that neither of them wanted to break the embrace and that peaceful moment, for fear of loneliness and their demons. However, he ended up letting go of him.

“But maybe you’d like to stay alone for now. To get some more rest.”

He leaned his hand on the mattress so he could stand up. It was always so troublesome, but he had to do it. He rose on his feet rapidly anyway.

“No. Please. Stay.”

It was surprising to hear him say this, but the way he did was even more so.

The fear of being alone was written on his face. Those kinds of looks never lied. It made his heart clench tightly in his chest. He could not get rid of the guilt that was overwhelming him. He sat back in the same spot and held him close again.

“I will stay as long as you want me to.”

It was silent again after he said that, but such a thing could never disturb him.

“Tak,” Carl ended up speaking after a long moment of silence.

The word was hardly audible but sincere. And this mere word brought a smile to his face. It may not have been a wide, huge grin, but it was sincere as well.

Carl ended up falling asleep in the crook of his neck after long minutes, and he deemed it would be better to leave him to sleep in a correct position this time. He just needed to be careful not to wake him up. He looked like he was too tired to be woken up by the slightest movement anyway. He shifted his position and had him lie into bed. It was good that he could still sleep after witnessing such a horrifying thing. For he definitely needed it.

He left the room as discreetly as a ghost and was ready to join his wife when he came across Doctor Spencer.

“Ah, Mr. Hopkins. It’s good to find you here. I’d like to have a word with you.”

“Very well. You have my whole attention.”

“Well, you know, after what happened…I think it would be best for George to be sent to the psychiatric ward."

Well, it had the merit of being straightforward. But he preferred that to people that spun their speeches out. The longer it was the more irritating it would become.

“Do you not think it is a bit too extreme a measure, Doctor?”

He remained calm, unperturbed as he spoke. It was not necessary to get angry at this.

“Definitely not. A suicide attempt is not anodyne, and you can be certain that if it failed the first time, the person will try again. And this kind of…problem needs constant and supervised aftercare by medical professionals. In most cases, the relatives are overrun and don’t know what to do to help. I really think it’s the best solution for him. He will be taken good care of and will be safe there. And if everything goes well, he will be able to go back home soon.”

He understood there was not any bad intention behind his words, but he would not let George go there.

“I am sorry to contradict you, Doctor; but I do not think this will be the best for him. Do not take it personally. It is not against you. I know you are someone trustworthy, but I also know what will happen if I let him into your psychiatric ward, and I strongly disapprove of what will be done to him.”

The message was clear, and the silence somehow meant he knew he was right.

“Our methods regarding the psychiatric field have evolved since the last war, you know. We don’t want to harm him in any way. We only want to help him get better; you can trust me about this.”

He really did not doubt his sincerity, but this would not be enough to convince him. He wanted to stay by George’s side and be there for him, not leave him surrounded by people who had problems worse than his. This kind of environment would definitely not help him get better.

“Progress is a controversial concept. Look, after World War One, everyone said that it would be the last war and that peace would be achieved. And I do not think your methods have evolved that much in the last twenty years. But once again, it is really not against you. I thank you for wishing to help, but I know enough about trauma and loss to be able to take care of him on my own. Please, do not worry about this happening twice, because I will never let that happen again as long as he will still be under my roof; you can trust me about that.”

It seemed that his words left Doctor Spencer completely at a loss for words, for he looked a bit taken aback by them, almost shocked.

“I am sorry to insist Mr. Hopkins, but I know how difficult it is to take care of this kind of people.”

This kind of people… The wording was rather offending.

“How do you?”

“My wife has been suffering from depression even before I met her.”

His words left him speechless. He was feeling guilty for showing so much animosity.

"I am sorry..."

"It's fine. Really. Well, if you don’t want him to go there, I can’t force you to change your mind, can I? And I know that you want him to get better more than I do.”

The small smile that came to his lips lightened it up a little bit.

“Thank you for your understanding, Doctor.”

He nodded at him before saying:

“If you have any problem, do not hesitate to call me or to come back, at any time.”

This was really the kind of doctor George could become later, and that mere thought warmed up his damaged heart.

“I will.”

Hello everyone! :) I hope you are all doing well :)

Mr. Hopkins's behaviour with Karl is just 🥰🥰

Take care 🥰💕And good night/good day wherever you are!

xoxo

Copyright © 2021 LittleCherryBlossom26; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

Poor Karl, still reeling from the night’s events; becoming more perplexed of those events leading up to the hospital emergency care. What happened to cause this? How could someone…? Why? Why? Why?

Though not of war itself, these events have opened Karl’s eyes to the harder reality of the world around him now; blood, death, the fear of pain and loss shared by others thrust in to sharing such unwanted events; it’s a loss of innocence for this sweet young man, but hopefully not so traumatic to cause recurring unrest.

Somewhat mentally overwhelmed and in a state of shock, Karl desperately needs comforting and needs to get some sense of control and normalcy back in his life too. Luckily, he realized the need to take nourishment for his own physical health, but poor Karl is drained mentally and physical.

Mr Hopkins, Robert, is not in much better shape mental, as he blames himself. We get a hint of George’s relationship as part of the family, but the why and how of the Hopkins’ need for guardianship remains elusive, though surely more understood than Karl being found on the sidewalk.

Knowing the levels of care and understanding for mental treatment in years past, I can’t say that Robert’s logic was unfounded. It will also come at a big price in commitment, while hopefully not breaking the family bonds and trust to see George through this.

@LittleCherryBlossom26, you’re addressing hard issues, but I like the switching POVs to better define the gravity of this tragedy beyond just George. Good job 👏 

Edited by Philippe
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I am not surprised at Robert saying he will make sure this never happens again under his roof.  That his wife suffers from depression as well.  From what I have read about WWI, the death toll and the deaths from the gas that was used was horrific and many suffered agonizing deaths or severe lung damages.  Robert I am sure will not forget the scenes that he saw. This maybe why he wants to take care of George, as he does feel responsible. 

Karl also is at the place where he also needs someone to help him understand all of what has taken place.  I do still think that Karl and George may benefit from each others need to understand this stiutation.  Karl needs to understand English much more and George needs to understand Danish.  What better way of working to make each better than to help each other learn the others language.  With the assistance of Robert I think both Karl and george will benefit from each others body language and soon be able to notice each others facial expressions.  They may themselves come close to the other more that they have ever thought. 

Then there is Paul.  I am still not sure as to how he is going to react to Georgr and Karl and if bonding for those two will have an affect to Paul.  I think there needs to be more information to come that should shed some light on Paul's thinking and how all three of these young men will respond to the coming of minds and bodies possibly. 

Going to be more interesting chapters on the way we hope. 

 

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I have mixed feelings about psychiatric hospital treatment even now.  Having know several people who have gone into this type of treatment, I only witnessed temporary changes that quickly reverted back to the same state.  Long term therapy of 5 to 10 years has much better results in changing how these people react to life.

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