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War Torn Ch. 02

I was roused by movement on the seat next to me. He was awake and trying to re-position his wounded leg. Each time he stirred there was a sharp intake of breath. He was clearly in pain, but I was not his nurse, and tried to resist interfering. He tried to stand, putting weight on the leg, but blanched and swayed while emitting a low, primal groan. I sprang from my seat to catch him under the shoulder and help him to the bench once again. I encouraged him to lie down for a moment to regain his strength. Kneeling beside the bench to watch over him, I saw pain clearly etched in his face. His brow was damp and fevered, but having nothing with which to cool him, I placed my hand there instead. As he rested I gently stroked his forehead and hair, hoping to sooth him. Soon his labored breathing slowed. The color returned to his face, and at last he opened his eyes to focus on me. I removed my hand from his forehead, thinking that he might not wish to be nursed. Softly, he reached toward the hand I withdrew and clasped it. Even without exchanging words, I knew that he was grateful to me.

...

I knelt beside him for nearly two hours while he gazed up at the ceiling. He seemed to be gathering his thoughts as well as his strength. After a while more, I whispered a question to him.

"What can I do for you?"

"I must eat something. Would you help me to the dining carriage?" He replied.

He sat up and taking my hand, raised himself up on his good leg. He steadied himself against me, and I wrapped my arm around his waist to support him. Step by step we progressed through the corridors of two carriages, finally crossing into the dining parlor. It was unattended, so I helped him to the nearest chair. He motioned for me to sit across the table from him. As soon as I was seated, the door at the opposite end of the carriage opened and a waiter entered.

"Whiskey, neat; tea, and cakes please." The waiter nodded and disappeared through the same door.

"Are you feeling well enough?" I asked, timidly.

"Funnily enough, I am feeling better than I have in months. I suppose it's all this sitting that has made it worse."

"They should have given you something for the pain. Does it always hurt you when you sit for this long?"

"Well, yes. But I'm rarely still long enough to bother with anything like that."

We sat silently until the waiter reentered the room with a tray, and served us our beverages as well as a delicate plate of teacakes.

"I do hope someone will look after you."

"I think I already have someone looking after me."

He smiled and reached across the table to take my hand. I felt my face flush, but not in anger or embarrassment, as it so often had. In the past few years I had become wary of men. Even the poor soldiers that I had attended in the hospital were often demeaning or lecherous towards me. This was entirely new and different. I rather liked it.

"It's time we were formally introduced. I'm Erich Jäger."

"Anna Mueller."

"Lovely to meet you, Anna."

Erich kissed my hand and I shivered. My name in his mouth sounded like the sweet sleigh bells I had loved to hear as a child at Christmas. For the first time in months, I smiled genuinely. His eyes lingered on me for a few moments before letting go of my hand and subsequently putting his whiskey glass to his mouth. I sipped my tea, watching him over the rim of the cup. He had drained the whiskey glass in a few swallows, and now he was slowly eating one of the teacakes. Every so often he winced at the pain in his leg.

...

We sat in companionable silence for over an hour.

When I had finished my cup of tea, he reached toward me again. My right hand rested on the table, and he gently covered it with his much larger palm. He set a few coins on the table before rising from his chair. Still holding my hand in his, he tucked it beneath his arm and made a great show of escorting me from the dining carriage.

He was still limping noticeably, but his spirits were high. In an attempt to make me laugh, he whispered absurd things to me in an overly sophisticated accent. I found myself playing along with him as he pretended to be a nobleman touring the continent. Laughing quietly, we continued strolling arm in arm through the corridors until we arrived at our train carriage. Stopping at the door, he let go of my hand and ended the charade.

Suddenly, I felt panic set upon me. I was a woman traveling alone at night with a soldier. I was vulnerable. What if his intention was not just friendly play? What if he were to close the door and ravish me? My heart began to race, and I felt an anxious tightness in my belly. I glanced apprehensively at him, but in return he smiled almost bashfully.

"Anna, I must thank you." He turned to face me. "In the past few hours, you have made me happier than I thought possible. So much in this last year has reduced my heart to ruin, but the kindness and patience you have shown me tonight have begun to rebuild it. I know the war has taken the pleasantness out of ordinary things, but being in your presence for this short time was enough to bring beauty to my life."

At once, my trepidation dissolved. His words broke over me like a storm surge and loosed the flood of emotion that had been dammed for too long. No one had spoken such kind words to me in years. Not since I left my parents. I burst into tears. I could not form thoughts or words to express myself, and so I buried my face in his shoulder to cry. If he was surprised at the outburst, he did not show it. Instead, he opened the door to the compartment, ushered me inside, and took me in his arms.

He stroked my hair and ran his hand down my back. The soft caress of his hand was too much. I gave in to the loneliness that had imprisoned me for so long, and wrapped my arms around him. He let me cry until I became weak from the effort of sobbing, then he sat me on his good knee and held me until I fell into an exhausted sleep.I was roused by movement on the seat next to me. He was awake and trying to re-position his wounded leg. Each time he stirred there was a sharp intake of breath. He was clearly in pain, but I was not his nurse, and tried to resist interfering. He tried to stand, putting weight on the leg, but blanched and swayed while emitting a low, primal groan. I sprang from my seat to catch him under the shoulder and help him to the bench once again. I encouraged him to lie down for a moment to regain his strength. Kneeling beside the bench to watch over him, I saw pain clearly etched in his face. His brow was damp and fevered, but having nothing with which to cool him, I placed my hand there instead. As he rested I gently stroked his forehead and hair, hoping to sooth him. Soon his labored breathing slowed. The color returned to his face, and at last he opened his eyes to focus on me. I removed my hand from his forehead, thinking that he might not wish to be nursed. Softly, he reached toward the hand I withdrew and clasped it. Even without exchanging words, I knew that he was grateful to me.

...

I knelt beside him for nearly two hours while he gazed up at the ceiling. He seemed to be gathering his thoughts as well as his strength. After a while more, I whispered a question to him.

"What can I do for you?"

"I must eat something. Would you help me to the dining carriage?" He replied.

He sat up and taking my hand, raised himself up on his good leg. He steadied himself against me, and I wrapped my arm around his waist to support him. Step by step we progressed through the corridors of two carriages, finally crossing into the dining parlor. It was unattended, so I helped him to the nearest chair. He motioned for me to sit across the table from him. As soon as I was seated, the door at the opposite end of the carriage opened and a waiter entered.

"Whiskey, neat; tea, and cakes please." The waiter nodded and disappeared through the same door.

"Are you feeling well enough?" I asked, timidly.

"Funnily enough, I am feeling better than I have in months. I suppose it's all this sitting that has made it worse."

"They should have given you something for the pain. Does it always hurt you when you sit for this long?"

"Well, yes. But I'm rarely still long enough to bother with anything like that."

We sat silently until the waiter reentered the room with a tray, and served us our beverages as well as a delicate plate of teacakes.

"I do hope someone will look after you."

"I think I already have someone looking after me."

He smiled and reached across the table to take my hand. I felt my face flush, but not in anger or embarrassment, as it so often had. In the past few years I had become wary of men. Even the poor soldiers that I had attended in the hospital were often demeaning or lecherous towards me. This was entirely new and different. I rather liked it.

"It's time we were formally introduced. I'm Erich Jäger."

"Anna Mueller."

"Lovely to meet you, Anna."

Erich kissed my hand and I shivered. My name in his mouth sounded like the sweet sleigh bells I had loved to hear as a child at Christmas. For the first time in months, I smiled genuinely. His eyes lingered on me for a few moments before letting go of my hand and subsequently putting his whiskey glass to his mouth. I sipped my tea, watching him over the rim of the cup. He had drained the whiskey glass in a few swallows, and now he was slowly eating one of the teacakes. Every so often he winced at the pain in his leg.

...

We sat in companionable silence for over an hour.

When I had finished my cup of tea, he reached toward me again. My right hand rested on the table, and he gently covered it with his much larger palm. He set a few coins on the table before rising from his chair. Still holding my hand in his, he tucked it beneath his arm and made a great show of escorting me from the dining carriage.

He was still limping noticeably, but his spirits were high. In an attempt to make me laugh, he whispered absurd things to me in an overly sophisticated accent. I found myself playing along with him as he pretended to be a nobleman touring the continent. Laughing quietly, we continued strolling arm in arm through the corridors until we arrived at our train carriage. Stopping at the door, he let go of my hand and ended the charade.

Suddenly, I felt panic set upon me. I was a woman traveling alone at night with a soldier. I was vulnerable. What if his intention was not just friendly play? What if he were to close the door and ravish me? My heart began to race, and I felt an anxious tightness in my belly. I glanced apprehensively at him, but in return he smiled almost bashfully.

"Anna, I must thank you." He turned to face me. "In the past few hours, you have made me happier than I thought possible. So much in this last year has reduced my heart to ruin, but the kindness and patience you have shown me tonight have begun to rebuild it. I know the war has taken the pleasantness out of ordinary things, but being in your presence for this short time was enough to bring beauty to my life."

At once, my trepidation dissolved. His words broke over me like a storm surge and loosed the flood of emotion that had been dammed for too long. No one had spoken such kind words to me in years. Not since I left my parents. I burst into tears. I could not form thoughts or words to express myself, and so I buried my face in his shoulder to cry. If he was surprised at the outburst, he did not show it. Instead, he opened the door to the compartment, ushered me inside, and took me in his arms.

He stroked my hair and ran his hand down my back. The soft caress of his hand was too much. I gave in to the loneliness that had imprisoned me for so long, and wrapped my arms around him. He let me cry until I became weak from the effort of sobbing, then he sat me on his good knee and held me until I fell into an exhausted sleep.

torn   war  

Aug 15, 2018 in romance

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