Breath On A Battlefield

Yesterday, there was a post on The Writer's Alley about writing to a masterpiece--a great, classical work of art. Imagine staring at the Mona Lisa and writing what comes to you mind, as if you were her...

I decided to do something similar. I'm taking a photo from WWII (I'm a historic fiction novelist, so give me a break) and putting a story with it.....

However, I write to music, so push play...and carry on.


In the fields of wounded men, Rose carefully walked over shrinking bodies, studying their faces and wounds in order to decide if they were worth sending to the OR. The unfortunate would be left to their own devices with what little care the nurses could give. For some of the men, staring into the eyes of a beautiful American woman as they struggled for breath was more than they could have hoped for. It was nearly more than she could give.

On this morning, Rose rolled up the green sleeves of her fatigues and pushed a stray strand of red hair beneath her bandana. Trying to ignore the stifling heat and the wretched smells welcoming her, she pushed forward; looking closely at each man that encountered her feet. Most of them stared back with dead eyes; their faces strangely serene and peaceful. Others looked at her with horror etched on their faces. One man in particular caught her eye. He was young, no more than twenty-years old. He had golden hair that splayed out across the jungle floor with beautiful blue eyes reflecting the color of the sky. She knelt down and waved her hand across his face. He didn’t flinch. “You’re too handsome to be dead,” she whispered. She took a black marker from her pocket, marking the man for burial, and moved on. A passing thought came to her mind, as she imagined a mother or a wife back home—grieving the loss of such a beautiful young man. She could not dare to think; could not dare to imagine…

They were nameless. They had to stay that way.

She walked for hours, her hunger barely registering. She was weak, and her head spun from the hot sun and thirst that burned her throat. But she didn’t complain. She hardly even gave it a second thought. How many of the other nurses suffered much worse and still tended the men laid out before them? Only a week ago, Becky had walked dutifully among the men with legs and hands trembling with malaria fever. Her face was pale; her eyes dull and deep within her face. She was so weak that she could barely lift her heavily booted-feet from the ground, yet she managed to fulfill her duties. In her soft, mellifluous voice, she would ask the men, “And how are you on this beautiful day? Happy to be alive, are we?”

The nurses didn’t allow themselves a moment to ponder their own ailing bodies. After all, they were just as likely to die in their beds with bombs raining down as they were from feverishly tending the wounded.

Rose stopped and looked down at a man clutching his stomach with trembling hands. Intestines oozed from beneath his palms. He was shaking, his eyes rolling back in his head. She stooped down and administered what little morphine she had left. It would help him relax enough to die peacefully. There was no saving him. Others had more of a chance. “I’m sorry, Soldier,” she whispered, taking his hand in hers and holding it until he stilled.


Now you try. :) Pick a picture, or a song, and write a story to go with it.


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