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It Was Like A Black And White Film
It was like a black and white film. Frozen drops fluttered down to rest upon the already white ground. The sky was a dismal grey. Tents lay helter skelter across the battleground. Only the bright red cross adorning a worn tent shown noticeably. Murmurs could be heard from within.
“Twila, what day is it?” Milo rasped.
“Sunday. Can I get you anything?” Twila replied. She was the nurse assigned to Milo when he was injured two months earlier. He was not the easiest soldier to care for, but Twila had become attached.
“I don’t care what day of the week, I was meaning the date.” The more Milo said, the faster his voice faded.
“Oh, I’m not sure, let me see. Hmm, I believe it is the 24th of December. Why?” This was the last question Twila expected to hear from Milo right now.
“It is the eve of Kris Cringle’s day! Don’t tell me you do not know about the tradition!”
Twila figured she should let Milo explain, she had tolerated far worse than silly children’s stories he was to tell. “Go ahead Milo, have your way.”
“Well, every year families join together and discuss what they want most. It is not supposed to be a material want necessarily. Most times, people wish for world peace. Other people wish for more money. Hey, it takes all kinds.”
Milo’s gaze drifted towards the ceiling as he pondered over why someone would ask for money for a season like this. It made Twila wonder herself why people who were as good as Milo had to live short lives. The feeling of the season was getting to her. Milo’s voice interrupted her thoughts.
“Twila, what do you want most?”
Milo’s watch had turned to Twila and his sweet brown eyes bore into hers. Pleading, almost, but Twila wasn’t for sure as to what they were searching for.
“Oh, I don’t know, Milo. What about you?” Twila passed the question off and waited for Milo to reply.
“I will have an answer from you, Twila. But what I want most is for all this pain to stop. Not for me, I can tolerate my pain, but the pain of this war. The loss is being taken by people everywhere. It is just not fair.” Milo’s voice broke with the trueness of his words. It pained Twila to see him ache in a way in which her skills could not help.
Twila let Milo rest for his eyes were closed and his breathing more even. She went back to washing some tools when Milo spoke again.
“Will you please tell me what you want now? I promise not to laugh.” His eyes were still closed but pain made his features taught.
“Milo, I wish for this war to be over too. I wish we all could be back home with our families, enjoying the firelight and knitting stockings. But that is not going to happen. So instead I wish for this war to be over as soon as possible and for you, my friend, to feel no more pain. As unselfish as you are, I am not. I would let others hurt so you wouldn’t have to. How much good have you done? So much. I wish for peace for you Milo.”
Milo smiled through the ache. Cold sweat dewed on his forehead and he bit his lip to keep back cries of protest. He needn’t say a word for Twila knew her wish would come true soon enough. And although she could not forsee it, Milo’s wish would too. The friends lasted awhile longer, Twila tending to Milo’s unspoken needs, and he comforted her although he did not know it. Through some of the worst times in life, good prevails. The friendship between Milo and Twila was to follow Twila through her existence. The blood that was spilt during the war was no match for the companionships created. When Milo finally passed four hours later, it was in the early hours of December 25th 1864. He had lasted longer than expected. Twila cried tears of sadness mixed with relief for Milo would suffer no more. And neither would she.