Monday, January 26, 2009

Letters (Part Eight)

(Letters is my series exploring a war-time
relationship across the miles. Here are Parts One,
Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven.)

Dear Mrs. Freeman,

I am writing to you, because your Patrick cannot. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that he has contracted pneumonia. The diphtheria toxin can paralyze the nerves in patients’ soft palates, making it difficult to swallow food. The ward physician believes he inhaled some food particles into his lungs, along with a new bacterium. Luckily, the antibiotic he’s receiving has shown great promise in other patients I’ve nursed. But I won’t lie to you about the severity of his condition. Every breath is a struggle, and his fever is quite high, in spite of our best efforts. Awareness of his surroundings comes and goes. This has been the state of things for the last two days.

I can see his lips form your name from time to time. Elise. He grabs my hand, but I know it’s you he sees. I’m not certain whether he’s experiencing some comfort, or more pain, during these visions. His eyes seem to be searching.

I am taking good care of him. Or I’m trying as hard as I know how. Your husband is a special man, Mrs. Freeman. I’ve grown quite fond of him. And if you’ll permit me this, I’ve grown fond of you. I know it’s strange, as we’ve never met. But Mr. Freeman has a way of talking. When he tells me about you, you assume a shape and color inside my mind. Familiar, somehow. And, perhaps, a part of me wishes that I were in your shoes right now. Back at the home I long to know again. With someone so hungry, in spite of his suffering, to walk all those miles back to me.

I had a love once, too. Maybe Patrick has told you.

I’m sorry. It’s late, and I am so very tired. It’s been weeks since I had a day off, days since I felt fresh air on my face. I shouldn’t burden you with my nonsense. You’re likely scared to death.

Trust in these antibiotics, Mrs. Freeman. They are miracle drugs. Your husband is strong. He fights. And he has something to live for.

I will write every day to keep you informed of his condition. God bless you. And may He end this war.

Yours truly,

Hannah Abbott


Part Nine is here.


Anonymous said...

Pneumonia!! Damn, damn, damn. Elise is frantic, I know.

Such a complex dynamic to add Hannah's letter into stream like this. Her goodwill must be a comfort. Yet, her pain makes one ache.

I can't even imagine how all of this is going resolve. You have your work cut out for you. ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

Geeze, it took me a moment to realize we weren't talking about a real person. I was wincing, thinking of him suffering and being unable to write. You've really drawn me into these characters.

Catvibe said...

Oh my...this letter from Hannah took my breath away, speaking of pneumonia, and gave me chills. I can't help but wonder if he won't ever come home...

Jennifer said...

First, yay, the next letter! But then, oh no, pneumonia. And the description of him so vividly rendered that all I could think of was what Elise's reaction to the words will be.

That, and the worry that Hannah will have a hard time managing her feelings towards Patrick. And that she and Patrick will carve out a place, born of their harsh circumstances, that Elise will not ever be able to enter.

Aine said...

Oh geez-- I knew it from my first glimpse of the photo as I scrolled down...

The clouds are gathering.

I feel such pain for Elise. She must be feeling so helpless, wishing she were there to nurse him.

Btw, are Elise and Patrick married? Did I miss something earlier? In my mind they were not married (yet).

Oh, and one more thing-- I just can't help myself, please forgive me... Hannah Abbott! I know her! She's married to Neville-- she runs the Leaky Cauldron now...
You certainly have been potterfied, haven't you?!

Sarah Hina said...

Jason, there are many kinds of pain and pressures here. But such complexities can yield surprising strength and connections, too.

Oh, and no worries--I have it all mapped out. problem. ;)

Charles, it makes me incredibly happy to hear that. :) The characters have become real for me, but it's a wonderful validation to hear that they have a visceral impact on you, too. Thank you.

Cat, I'm not sayin'. ;) But I will acknowledge that I don't think any of them will have a fairytale ending. That might be impossible at this point.

Thanks for following their story with me. :)

Jennifer, you are very perceptive. I do think our circumstances are more controlling of our fates than we sometimes want to admit. Who wouldn't, given these dark, shared conditions, want to cling to the nearest warm presence? It's very human.

Thank you so much for your response. :) Your enthusiasm for this series has been a pleasure for me to see!

Aine, guilty as charged. :p I can't believe I did that. My subconscious secretly wants to be JK Rowling! :D

You know, you make a good point about their married status. I'll admit that, in the beginning, I didn't see them as being married. But I got to thinking about it more, and their tie is so deep, that I couldn't believe they wouldn't have had a quick wedding before he shipped off. Their desire to make that connection permanent would have been overwhelming, I imagine.

It's very possible I gave off the impression that they were single, somewhere along the line, though. I'll have to go back to look! :)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Were my fears warranted? I can only imagine the content of Elise's next letter! Poor thing.

And what about Hannah? I remember Vesper and I thought that Patrick and Hannah might fall in love under those conditions...

and now...Patrick...

You have really brought these characters into the mind's eye. Fabulous! I can see the book cover right now!!!

Karen said...

These characters are addictive! I just KNOW that Hannah and Patrick are going to share things that will shut Elise out.

Poor Elise. Poor Hannah. And, oh my, poor Patrick!

By the way, great research into the ailments and medicines of the time and place.

I can't wait for the next installment.

Chris Eldin said...

Ditto Charles!!

I fear there won't be a happy ending to this tale. I love how you're balancing the emotions of your characters--giving them equal weight.
Can't wait fro the next installment!

Anonymous said...

Stunning realism! I have read one through four, and took a sneak peak at of eight; I'm catching up as you go along. This is brilliant work Ms. Hina. Oh, and your poem entitled "Solo" is something else--in fact, that's what lead me here!

Ever Yours,
Clayrn Darrow

Sarah Hina said...

K, maybe your daughter could paint something for the cover. :D

To be honest, this is such a tangle of emotions and complexity right now, that I am still somewhat in the dark about where it will all lead. I feel like I'm along for the ride, too! Which is a little exciting, but also a little risky for a writer. ;) I'm hoping not to disappoint everyone, because I'm so happy that people have been drawn to this story. Thank you, K. :)

Karen, I did do a teensy bit of research, but I think I could be doing more. If I ever wanted to expand this series into something bigger, like a novel, I'd have to really devote more effort. And I'm so lazy... :p

You're right about Elise being a bit shut out. They're all victims of circumstances at this point. Thank you, Karen, for being so devoted to these characters. :)

Chris, all I can look at is your legs. Who knew Church Lady was such a fox?? ;)

I might start spacing the installments a little closer together, to give the story a bit more momentum now. Thank you for following it!! :)

Clay, thanks so much for stopping in! Yes, Nancy has a beautiful site at Breathing Poetry, and I was honored that she wanted to post my poem.

So glad you found something worth sticking around for here. :) I've been thrilled by the reception to this series so far.

Linda S. Socha said...

Incredible...I surely know these people....How quickly you create reality in fiction. Top notch...really

Aniket Thakkar said...

"When he tells me about you, you assume a shape and color inside my mind. Familiar, somehow." we have all grown fond of Patrick and Elise the same way! we have their shape and color inside our minds now!

PS: On your comment, In my book you have already surpassed Rowling.