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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 - 47. Chapter 47

Shift to Robert's POV for this chapter :) 

Robert and Margaret were scurrying through the long hospital corridors. Doctor Spencer had told them about Karl, and as soon as he had they had been out to go and see him.

“I should have never asked him to go out just for a bit of mustard…I will never forgive myself if he dies…”

This was just Margaret, blaming herself for everything bad that happened.

“Saying that kind of thing does not help, you know.”

“I know it does not, but since I cannot do anything else—”

“This is not your fault, Margaret. I want you to understand. The only people to blame are those Boches.”

“No! I could have prevented that! Had he stayed at home with us he would have never been hurt! So this is my fault!”

“We could not foresee—”

“We knew it was bound to happen sooner or later! I should have known…! I should have been much more careful.”

She was right... He could not deny it.

“It is as much my fault as yours, then.”

He would never forgive himself either if he were to die because of his carelessness.

They bumped into Doctor Spencer who seemed to be as much in a hurry as they were.

“Doctor! How is he?” Margaret instantly asked him.

There was no time for good manners in such an alarming moment.

He looked reluctant to tell them the plain truth. Robert’s throat was constricting.

“He will survive, but he will need a long recovery. He…has a severe concussion, and he will need a bit of reeducation until he can walk again. And we found some shrapnel in his body…”

It could have been worse…

“May we see him?” Margaret asked him.

“He is still unconscious, but you may stay at his bedside if you wish. He is in room 301.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

“No need to thank me. Well, if you’ll excuse me now, I have to go.”

“Of course.”

He quickly left, and they made their way towards the room just as quickly.

Robert’s heart shattered into a million pieces when he saw Karl laying in that hospital bed. He had a thick bandage on his forehead.

His breathing became shallow, and he suddenly felt the need to sit down. Margaret helped him, instantly noticing his distress.

They remained with him for most of the day, unwilling to leave his side. But they could not possibly spend several days and nights waiting there for him to wake up. They left his room in the late afternoon.

But as they were again roaming through the seemingly endless corridors, Robert came to a crucial realisation.

“He should not be staying here Margaret. It is not the safest place for him to be in.”

Margaret was confused as to why he should say such a thing.

“What do you mean by this? Are you saying that we should take him back home with us? But we cannot do that, Robert. We are not doctors…we cannot take care of him as they do here…”

The reason was quite obvious to him.

“You know as well as I do that they will not stop there. They will continue what they have started, and the hospitals will be one of their main targets. If they want to weaken us, it is the best way to do so. If all of the hospitals are destroyed, making us unable to take care of all the casualties that will add on, they will get a massive advantage over us. This is strategic.”

She looked horrified by his segment, but he could not preserve her from the horrifying truth.

“Should we not try to talk about it to Doctor Spencer to have his own opinion first. He knows what is best for all the patients.”

“What do you think he will tell you? This is something he has no control over. It cannot be prevented unless the RAF can destroy all of their planes before they can do any more damage.”

There was nothing she could reply to that, nothing rational.

She stayed silent for quite a while, most likely trying to come up with a solution. But there was no such thing as a solution.

“We should wait for one day or two at least, please…”

She took his hands in hers as she was giving him that look. That pleading look as her distress was getting the best of her.

“I am not sure this would be such a good idea if we took him back home right now, despite your arguments.”

Was she really ready to put his life on the line after she reproached herself so much for letting that happen to him? In this context, a hospital simply was not a safe place anymore. Could she not understand that? Even if there were still doctors to take care of the casualties for now it may not have lasted.

But he did not want to get into an argument with her now. So he would do as she advised. He did not wish to put the weight of culpability on her shoulders if something were to happen to him.

All he could do was wait anxiously for the great lottery to do its work.

***

That evening he stayed alone in his armchair but was determined not to drink a single drop of alcohol. It would not be wise since his wife was nearby.

He was not sure he would be able to cope with this once again. It had been haunting him, depriving him of sleep for so many nights, and now it was back for real. The only difference was that he was not on the battlefield anymore.

He could still hear the thunder of the diabolical machinery reverberating in his mind as if he were still there, on the bloody and marred French land. Well, he had never really left. His body had gone back home, but his mind and soul had died there, buried underground in the emptiness that could never be forgotten.

He could still feel the same anxiety that used to seize his entire being before every battle; he could remember every bit of it perfectly: clutching his rifle close to his chest and stomach with trembling hands, waiting for the wretched signal, hearing the roars of the enemy weapons nearby, the dirt rising into the air and falling all over him, but there was never enough of it to bury him alive.

He had found himself buried alive underground once though. It had happened too fast and too suddenly to enable him to register how it actually happened. He was not even sure how he had managed to resurface on the earth. He could only remember struggling and breathing heavily, desperately needing fresh air, his body silently begging for it.

There was also that time when he had almost died because of a mine that had exploded close to him, propelling him forward before he landed face flat in the dirt.

But nobody had helped him get up or asked him if he was alright; no one had paid any attention to him at all. Men had kept moving forward, being too focused on the enemy to even realise he could have died. He had remained laying on the ground for a little while, like a ghost among thousands of faceless moving silhouettes running towards their own deaths.

Well, he was not one to talk. He had seen so many men on the verge of death, men that did not want to die, begging for help. He had only stopped, but all he had been able to do was watch them helplessly. One of them had even grabbed his wrist, begging him not to go. But there was nothing he could have done anyway. He had arrived too late. In his nightmares, all of these men surrounded him, and buried him alive with their bodies, took him with them in a land of forgetfulness and never-ending doom as punishment.

Their screams of agony were a constant reminder of his own cowardice and worthlessness.

He gripped the arms of the chair tightly.

There was another time, in March 1918, when he could have died too. His leg had been severely injured for a shell. It had made him scream in excruciating pain. He had been put on a stretcher and taken to a Casualty Clearing Station.

He remembered all too well how the doctor, a rather plump man with a grizzled mustache, had told him that he had no other choice than to amputate his right leg. It had made him wonder if death itself could have been worse than that.

“Do not look so distressed. I will get you a really nice prosthesis. You will not even think you have got one once you get used to walking with it,” he remembered his words by heart.
He also remembered the way his brother had entered the hospital room, barging in hastily, as if afraid he might have got there too late, and how the nurse had scolded him before he could even approach him. She must have thought he was a maniac.

“Let me through! He’s my older brother for Christ’s sake!” He had got angry at her, and she had instantly recoiled before leaving the room hurriedly.

“How are you feeling?” He asked him immediately after he took a seat close to him.

“Like a man who has just lost his leg.”

He looked embarrassed at his own silliness.

“It’s not that bad. It’s not as if you were dead, thankfully.”

But having to live with an artificial leg was a terrifying prospect. Even though it was still better than having nothing to replace his real leg.

“At least you will be able to get back home, so that's pretty good news. They will have to discharge you and repatriate you. It’s no use to hold you back here if you can’t fight anymore.”

“I cannot go back home in this condition. I do not want to…I will never be able to face them.”

“Don’t say such things! They’ll be so relieved and happy to see you alive and fine. Even if you’ve lost one leg, who cares? Really? It will still be you, and they won’t stop loving you because of it.”

He knew he would never be the same, the man they knew after everything he had gone through.

“I will not go back home without you. I will not leave you in this living hell alone. I am staying, even if I cannot go on the front line anymore.”

“No…your family needs you.”

“You are my family too.”

“But it’s been so long since the last time they saw you.”

It has been almost a year since he had gone back home. Coming back only to leave again, knowing you might never come back again. There is nothing worse than that.

He remembered snapping at one of his comrades once because of that.

“How am I supposed to explain to my six-year-old son why I have to leave again and what I’m doing here and that I may never see him again?!”

“Robb?”

He looked at his brother who was looking utterly concerned, and an intense pang of guilt invaded his chest.

“It does not matter if I have to die. As long as you are safe, I would die happily. I have a family, but you need to get your own, to know that exquisite happiness and excitement of wedding and birth. I must say that I would be quite saddened to miss all of this though.”

Lewis let out a small noise that was similar to a chuckle, and it was enough to make him smile.

“You bloody idiot.”

“It is blood loss.”

He had had no other choice than to get used to it in the end. But he had had to use a cane to help him in the first years, to avoid limping too much.

He remembered that one time in the aftermath of the war when he had been having a walk with his grandfather, to go to the graveyard.

“That prosthesis of yours is quite impressive. We hadn’t got such advanced medical stuff back in the time.”

His grandfather had fought in the Crimean War, had suffered from several injuries, but had always got back on his feet to fight again.

That was the major difference with his father who had never fought in any war. He had only seen him as a worthless crippled once he had got back home.

For, really, who would possibly want to hire a crippled? Jobs of higher standards were not made for the crippled.

He should not think too much about it. It was not as if he had ever held his father’s opinion in high regard.

Besides, it was most likely not that good to stay stuck for too long in the past. He needed to focus on the present. Even though it was quite hard when the two became so closely intertwined.

He guessed he had no other choice than to cope with what was expecting them.

Hey! :) 

So all the characters in the story have been spared; maybe I should've made it clear, but I don't feel like rewriting this time..😅

Take care ❤️

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……brave and selfless even in the face of danger.  And Robert is right, get him out of the hospital and quickly!

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Both Karl and Robert have faced death and been injured. Robert still remembers the horrors of war. What sscary battlefield experiences. He faced another tough time coming home with a non-accepting father  who did not like his injury.

I think Robert's experiences will give him the strength and desire to help Karl recover and learn how to walk. Karl will need a sympathetic helper and will need counselling and an understanding friend as the perils he faced return to haunt him. He has new fodder for his nightmares.

The air war will continue. I hope the Hopkins and Karl are not futher hurt.

 

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More insight into the HELL Robert went through in WW I, (although I pretty much knew where that was going based on stories my late Great Uncle had passed on, and how he was gassed in the trenches).

As for Karl, I'm hoping for two things. First that he recovers. Second, and more important, it that Rosemary also survived the damn Blitz, otherwise Karl will find himself in a situation similar to Robb, blaming himself, and never quite getting over it.

 

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I can't say anything more that what the comments before have said.  I am grateful for the sacrifices of all those who have fought to preserve the ideals of freedom and human rights.

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