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Susan Newton Bennet
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Cal and Laura sat on a bench in the hospital court yard enjoying the sunny day. Suddenly Cal put his face in his hands. “Ma, after the plane crashed and I lost my memory I would have this dream. There was a beautiful face smiling at me just beyond my reach. This perfect creature had no body. It was just a face and it drove me wild I couldn’t place who she was or how I knew her.”
Laura turned away. Should I tell him about Al and Cristina? The Doctor said his memory is fragile. I don’t dare shock him now, perhaps later. I wish I knew what I must do!
As she leaned against the seat in the taxi conflicting thoughts crowded her mind. This is probably stupid. I may have lost my job. Doctor Goldstein is sure to report me. I’ll get reprimanded at least. And what am I going to say to Laura? It might be cruel to get her hopes up that Jonah is her lost Cal. It may be just coincidence that the name seemed to strike a chord with Jonah. How can I put this possibility to her without causing her more pain? Dear God, let me think of something that will not hurt her more!
Laura looked up in surprise when Cora came thought the door. “Cora, I didn’t expect you at this time of day. I’m knee deep in packing. I seem to have more stuff to take home than I brought with me. You know I have my ticket. Oh, it will be so good to see the family, but I will miss you.”
“Laura,” Cora stammered breathlessly, “I came home because there’s a young flyer who may know something about your Cal. This fellow was shot down and held a prisoner. He knew another flyer in prison camp that sort of fits Cal’s description. I came home to get you. This man is being transferred so we need to go right now and see him.”
Laura dropped the blouse she was folding and stared at Cora. “Oh, Cora, do you think it could be possible?”
“I don’t know. I thought you should go talk to him. Please, dear, don’t get your hopes up too high. I don’t want to add more grief. Just get your coat. It’s cold outside. I have a taxi waiting.”
“A taxi, my goodness, what extravagance, you are a dear!”
Neither woman said anything on the trip. Tension filled the air in the taxi. Laura folded and unfolded her hands in her lap.
They walked together up the steps of Walter Reed Army Hospital. Casualties from the front filled its twenty-five hundred beds. Here men came with wounds from shrapnel, shells and grenade fragments and the infections they caused. Men whose lungs were seared by mustard gas coughed and gasped for breath. They stared at the two women through inflamed eyes. Laura avoided staring at a soldier who resembled a walking cadaver. All hospitals have the same dreadful odors, fulsome antiseptics to cover worse smells,
The two women entered a ward with its perfectly aligned army cots marching down each side of a wide aisle. Laura saw the red haired patient with his head bent over a book and fainted dead away.
“Hey, Jonah,” a soldier on crutches standing next to Jonah said, “Get your head out of that book. We got some excitement going on at the end of the ward. Let’s go see.”
“What is it?”
“Nurse Brown Eyes is bending over some woman who passed out. Doc Goldstein and an orderly are fussing over her with what looks like smelling salts.”
“You go. I got a good book.”
“Aw, come on.”
Slowly the two men made their way down the aisle. Jonah stopped before the prone Laura.
“My God,” he said, “my God, it’s Ma.” He went to his knees and reached for Laura with his right arm.
At that moment she came to. “Cal, oh Cal, is it really you?” With both hands she reached up and cradled his face.
“It’s me, Ma. Where have you been?” He reached for his mother as best he could with the one arm in a cast and they clung to each other. Struggling with his good arm, he attempted to pull her to her feet. Cora stepped forward and helped. Mother and son stood entwined. Tears coursed down Laura’s face. A loud cheer rose from the chorus of onlookers.
Doctor Goldstein ran his handkerchief over his face to disguise the tear in his eye. “Well, this is a happy occasion. Why don’t you to repair to my office where you can have some privacy. You have a lot of catching up to do.”
Laura turned to Cora. “Oh, Cora, this is all your doing. You had an idea Cal was here. God bless you, Cora.”
“No,” Cora protested, “This is the answer to all our prayers. This is the Lord’s doing.”
Since my father was a regular Army officer we moved around a lot. With each move there was a period of time where I was that new kid and had no friends. During these periods books were my friends. I loved to read especially historical novels. My grandmother’s fascinating memoir of life in the gold rush days of Colorado inspired me to use my imagination to create the Prescott family.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 223
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