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Memories of Love & War
Elisabeth lay lonesome and sickly in the bed she has inhabited for months; laying there as she awaits death to overcome her; her soul to escape the decrepit body that has rusted with age. Each breath, a breath closer to death, and each sigh, a sigh away from life. Her doze gazed from each piece of furniture to another; each object containing a story behind Elisabeth’s life. She looked back on her life with the contentment anyone her age would; with both regrets and fulfillment. Out her window she gawked at the blazing city; sprightly teens full of life and adventure swarming around the rococo Parisian buildings. Although her memories all jumbled up and tangled with age, she was able to prominently see herself in the kids that pranced by beneath her window. A couple live with passion and glory. It was then, she remembered Giovanni, a summer love she would never forget.
The year was 1943, the paramount of the war. Elisabeth ran. She ran as fast as she could through the vehement meadow, the tall grass brushing lightly against her legs and the hem of her burgundy dress. Her curls bounced vivaciously against her neck and collarbones. Her feet trotted gracefully against the earth, the balls of her bare feet crunching the dry soil beneath her.
She was free.
Closing her eyes, she pressed her face against the warmth of the sun, her sunkist cheeks glowing with a carefree glimmer that no one could describe.
Within a distance, a gunshot shattered the trance that once engulfed Elisabeth. Her eyes shot open as she faced the direction the gunshot echoed from. Eyes widened with alert, she was able to make out a figure in the distance.
As limited as the distance made her vision seem, she recognized the apparition of a man. His hand was suspended in a red stained space slightly above his abdomen. Bent down, he slowly made his way toward Elisabeth’s direction.
As the distance between the two shortened, Elisabeth was able to make out the scarred and bruised face of a young man about the same age as she. A short black buzz cut covered his bleeding scalp, and a face in such severe and palpable agony immersed the appearance of this mysterious manifesting soldier. Limping in such anguish, the boy finally collapsed, engulfed in the grass that quickly hid his desiccated body.
Impulsively and curiously, Elisabeth rushed to the fallen boy and knelt down beside his helpless body, her knees splashing the blood-stained soil that surrounded the boy’s abdomen. Distraught with panic, Elisabeth quickly grabbed the boy’s canteen away from his uniform and held the rim of the bottle to his dirt caked lips. As water rushed from his canteen, down the side of his face, and into his dry mouth, the mysterious boy coughed with life and perched himself up on his elbows. He stared with awe and delusion at the impeccable face that floated above him. Realizing the severity of his wound, Elisabeth hastily ripped of the hem of the skirt of her dress and forcefully pressed the cloth against the source of the emitting blood. Using the rest of the water in the canteen to wash off the mixture of dried and wet blood, Elisabeth slowly lifted his back off the blood-drenched earth.
“Qui es-tu?,” Elisabeth questioned within her breath as she stared blankly yet, cautiously at the uninvited soldier resting on the ground beneath her.
The young fellow candidly replied in a gruff, yet soft voice, “Je m’appelle Giovanni Colasanti.”
“Tu es italien?,” replied Elisabeth.
“Oui. Et toi?”
“Je suis francais. Mon nom est Elisabeth.” answered Elisabeth in a more comforting tone. She felt at ease in the presence of her new patient despite the fact that he was Italian. He too,felt safe in the arms of Elisabeth. It was then, that very moment, Elisabeth vowed to never forget.
Elisabeth glanced forlornly at the wedding picture of Giovanni and herself, reminiscing the glorious times she and her soldier spent together. She often thanked God for sending him to her, and up until her death, never failed to do so. Tears tumbled violently down the crevices of her age-blemished face as she looked back on the life she has lived and prepared to leave behind. Eager to join Giovanni, she wished her son, Vince, and her granddaughter, Beatrice a wistful farewell, and sighed her last breath. She lay there on her deathbed, eyes still fixed on her wedding picture, and the sunset setting the same carefree glimmer that gleamed on her face seventy years before.