Near Germany, Christmas Eve 1942…
Daniel Rogers moaned, laying his head against the back of the train seat. No matter which direction he shifted, nothing seemed to soothe the deep wound in his side. He tugged at his uniform, trying to smooth out the bumps.
Just as he couldn’t get his body relaxed, he couldn’t seem to stop his memories from haunting his soul...
“Please…please, you must help my brother! Please save him! I beg you!” The German’s cruel, cold face stared back at him blankly.
“Nein. I do not save your kind.”
“Please!” Daniel begged. “He’s my little brother...he’s the only family I have left!”
His face showing no emotion, the German let out a scoff and walked away. Daniel bent over his brother, trying to stop his bleeding, trying to ease his pain.
“I’m sorry, Aaron...I’m so sorry.”
Daniel reached into his coat pocket and touched the last earthly reminder he had of his brother...his crayons. Aaron had always dreamed of becoming an artist, and just touching his beloved crayons released a flood of sweet memories. With a simple touch, Daniel could suddenly picture his brother’s smile, hear his gentle voice, and even smell the ivory soap he’d use to wash his hair.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted when the train lurched and slowed down even more. He could see from the dim moonlight outside they were deep in the woods and a heavy snow was falling. How he wanted to go and give that train driver a piece of his mind! They were supposed to have arrived at the army hospital by now, but the snow drifts and reports of German troops along the way had delayed them almost four days. Now all the weary passengers were shivering, cold, and hungry.
All around him other injured soldiers lay, most of othem half conscious or delirious. There was only one doctor for all of them, something Daniel couldn’t figure out.
“Still alive, buddy?” his friend Nate Murray inquired, leaning over him. “Doc said he’d come around and look at your wound in a sec.”
“Why would it matter?” Daniel grumbled. “Not like he can do anything for me. This stupid train won’t keep going!”
Nate jostled him gently. “Well, you’re as pleasant as my sister’s cat. Lighten up! Some of our train comrades are gonna bring around some biscuits and coffee.”
“No doubt they’ll both be stale and full of weevils,” muttered Daniel.
His friend didn’t get a chance to reply. The train came to a sudden stop and Daniel would have been thrown from his seat if Nate hadn’t had a good grip on his arm.
“Oh, this is just dandy!” Daniel brushed off his friend’s hand and slouched in his seat. “Another stop. What a way to spend Christmas Eve...with a bunch of dirty, dying men and a German bullet in my side.”
Who’d want to celebrate Christmas with this awful war going on anyway? Aaron was the one who loved Christmas. Back in Vermont, he’d always draw me a picture and we’d sit up late drinking warm milk and talking and playing games together...my brother and I. But now he’s gone...
(Ebook coming Spring 2018)