Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)
TITLE: Love Letters
By Diana Smith
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My Dearest Emily,
Last night the moon emerged from hiding and shone on the huddled group around me. Would you believe that it was the twin of the moon we saw on New Brighton Beach that night? I gazed at my round friend and dreamed we were walking hand in hand, planning our years together. What was that name you picked for our firstborn son? I think I remember - Hamish was it? Were you truly angry when I laughed and insisted not? No matter now, any name would do were we to be blessed with a child.
The moon retreated and has not come out since. The sound of far off field guns and the constant murmur of the men invade my dreaming and bring me back to reality. As you may remember from my last letter, our brigades have been in good spirits since the battle at Amiens and have been pressing steadily across the French countryside. It’s rumoured that we are headed for the German-occupied town of Le Quesnoy. I’ve heard that the outer walls are penetrable and that it can be taken with only minor casualties.
That reminds me of your words the morning I shipped out, can you recall them? “Men die in war,” you said. “Don’t be one of them Peter.” I’m glad to say I’m not one yet, but it has been difficult when death befalls others I care about.
How are my mother and sister? Taking care I hope. Please give them my love and take a boatload for yourself as well. The enemy is growing weaker; I can feel it in my cold bones. Could I hold you close this summer and smell the sea in your hair? Pray for that.
Until then I will bask in the memories of you.
Christchurch, New Zealand, late October 1918
Dear Sweet Peter,
I remember that moon fondly as well as our discussion about children. That seems awfully long ago and I’m anxious to talk with you about it again.
I was very proud to hear of the bravery and victory at Amiens and overjoyed that you stayed firmly in the camp of the survivors. The talk here is that the war may end soon; the Germans are retreating and so forth. Home is just beyond the horizon my dear.
All is not rosy here though. The flu is spreading rapidly and we are working to exhaustion. Nursing is normally rewarding labor, but this outbreak has loaded us down dramatically. My rounds begin at the local depot administering the dosages of medicines and salt gargles. Most of the infected there do not eat much but need plenty of fluids and the more serious cases need stimulants every four hours. Then I take the bicycle to the homes beyond the town, down the Smith Road and around that loop. It hurts me to report that Old Man Peters and his son Doug have succumbed to the illness. What will his wife do now?
There are other rumours here, mainly that the newest outbreak has been brought in by the P.M. himself. A few weeks ago, Massey and Ward were aboard the RMS Niagara when it docked in Auckland. Word has it that their refusal to be quarantined allowed the ship to be cleared. There were six reported cases of the flu onboard and it has been said that those have birthed many more. I don’t have the strength right now to be concerned with the how, only with the care of those already infected. Ease your mind with the assurance that I wear my mask diligently and sleep with windows wide open for ventilation.
Please forgive my complaints. I am sure New Zealand is a much finer place than France these days and you would give anything to be here. I would love to feel your embrace and if I take the time to dream, it is of us picnicking in the Botanical Gardens or sharing tea at your mum’s. Those days will come my love, I am sure.
The town of Le Quesnoy, France was liberated on 4 November 1918 through a spectacular attack by the New Zealand Division. A battlefield memorial stands there today.
The Spanish Flu pandemic spread throughout the world. New Zealand was hit dramatically with over 8000 citizens dying of the disease.
Peter and Emily had two sons, Peter Jr. and Hamish.
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