Battle of Three
The 76th Division
I walk out of the grocery store with bags all over me and I hear a constant yelling. “Fall in and answer in your county’s hour of need!”. A man, most likely from the army trying to recruit people to fight in the war. I walked to my horse and put all of my bags into the cart. I get onto my horse and get ready to go. I take a look at the buzzing town and I get leave.
I can see a house in the distance. A two story white house with four pillars holding up the porch. I can already tell that it is mine. About a mile behind it there an electrified fence with barbed wire on it. It protects the French German border from Illegal immigrants. When I get near home I Slow down the horse and tie the him down. I go into my house and call “ Andrew! Sarah! come down and get the bags! After a few minutes I hear footsteps coming from the stairs. It’s Andrew. “Andrew where is your sister”
“She is coming” After a few seconds I see Sarah coming down. I go into the living room and I pick up the newspaper and start reading it:
On the 28th of June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated. This event triggered the outbreak in which we are living in now. We will be following the war. Today we start with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. On 28 June 1914 Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg, were murdered in Sarajevo by the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip.
Tired from reading the same thing every day, I get up from the chair I am sitting in and head to my office. I walk up and pick up my papers for building structure from my room and go to the office. I sit down and unroll the plans. Project Maginot. A 750 Km (450 mile) line which is meant to protect the French/German border. I was appointed to the job in 1912, before the war started. I have spent hours every day and meeting with other government engineers to work on drawings and ideas for the project. When the Archduke was killed the government told us that we had to speed up the process in case that war would occur. By the time we had finnish the blueprints and tried to secure the funds the war was in full effect. The government told us to wait until the war was over. I guess no one thought that the war would be this long and so costly. A year ago the French government sent a few engineers a letter which told us to meet in Pairs to discuss plans to fortify the capital. I brought up the plans for Project Maginot and after much debate we were told that we had to make changes to the blueprints; after we made these changes we could start building the fortifications. I get my phone and call one of the other engineers that are working on the project. 331-404-22222. I wait a minute than I hear a “Hello?”
“Hello? Hello? Is anyone their?Jean!
“Hello, sorry bad connection, the operator took some time to connect us.
It's me. It’s time to meet. I was hoping you could meet me in the capitol.”
“Sure, I could make it next week. Where should I be?”
“come to Parc Monceau, I’ll be at the tourist office waiting at 1”
I get up from the desk and just sit there for a few minutes until I hear my wife calling everyone down for dinner. As usual I come down first then Andrew. After about five minutes we all hear Sarah running down. We all sit down and start to eat. We all take food from the plates in the center of the table. Their is salmon Niçoise, chicken, And rice. Not the best food in the world but it is pretty good.
The next morning wake up at 5, get up make breakfast for myself. An omelet with cheese tomatoes and 3 eggs. Once I finish making breakfast for myself I walk outside and get the mail. One for Sofia, one for Sarah, and surprisingly one for Andrew. The rest is for me. I look through them as I get the newspaper and walk back home. Bills, bills, bills, bills, and a check. From the government for three thousands franks. I have been wait for that check for a few days now. I come inside the house, take off my shoes and I see that Sarah, Andrew, and Sophia were all down and eating. I sit down with them and eat my omelet. I open up the newspaper and start to skim it. War, War, War. Then I see an article about the Irish.
On Monday, April 24th a Proclamation was given in Dublin announcing that an "Irish Republic" had been formed under a "Provisional Government" of seven people whose names were attached to the document. They were Thomas J. Clarke, Sean Mac, P.H. Pearse,Thomas and Joseph Plunkett. In the British Parliament on Wednesday May 3rd, the Prime Minister of England announced that a Court Martial had been held, that Pearse, Thomas J. Clarke, and Thomas MacDonagh had been tried by that body that they had been sentenced and that they had been shot.
“Wow” I said “the Irish want independence” As usual I am talking to myself then to get everyone's attention I say “ Don’t forget that Aunt Maria is coming today for the night” The kids grone “Why does she have to come?”
“Because she is my sister and needs to stay in Paris until she could go to Germany”. I finish my food and get up. I go into the office and put the finishing touches on my plans for Paris. I hear a ringing. It is the phone I go pick it up. “Hello, who is this?” I asked.
“Oh hello, may I speak to Maria, it’s urgent,”answered thee mysterious man.
I responded back,”I said who is this. I’m not going to give the phone to my sister from some random person.”
“Sorry, i’m so sorry. My name is Edward. Now can you please put Maria on the phone,” He told me.
“Sure Edward i’ll be glad to put my sister on the phone just one question, why aren't you speaking to me in French?” I asked. He seems to stumbled over that question.
He says, ”Uhh, well Maria and I met when I was in need of help and I don’t know how to speak French.”
“It meets my standards.Oh Edward, my sister will be on the phone in a minute,”I said. I walk down stairs and call Maria. “Maria Someone is on the phone for you. Maria walks up to the phone and answers.
It’s 11. Jean is going to be at Parc Monceau in a few hours. I get my coat on and get the horse from the stables. I say goodbye to my family and leave to Parc Monceau. I signal for the horse to move. In a few seconds the horse is going about 20kph. I can feel the wind on my face. In a few minutes I am in the town center. I head to the Cafe to get some coffee and a biscuit. It’s a small cafe but fancy. It has a big sign saying Cafe du France. I walk in and I notice that their were not that many people their. I walk to the counter and order a coffee and a lemon biscuit. I walk back out and look at the time. It’s 11:30. I still have time to eat then see Jean. I sit at a table outside of the cafe and enjoy the view of the city. My coffee comes and I start to drink it with the biscuit.
All of a sudden I hear a siren going off. No no no. These were bombing sirens. They are only supposed to go off if the border was being attacked or if there were practices. There were no practices today. This must be real I told myself. My home is near the German border. Leave 20 Francs on the table under the cup and run to my house. I get on and signal the horse to get moving. A million thoughts are running through my head. Are they ok? Are their any planes in the air? Or is the border being shelled? God I hope is is just a mistake. Their is no school today. The kids are home and so is Sofia. I hit the horse to make him go faster. 24 kph than 32 and 48. All of a sudden the air around me became hot and thin. All I can see is bright orange and yellow around me. I can feel the the fire approaching on me. My horse seems to be deciding when to run out of the fire and where to run out. I try to get up but I can’t. I inspect my body. Their are some pieces of metal in my arm but nothing I can’t handle. I feel as if am on the sun.I remember why I came back. My family. I get up and I see that my horse has already left. I get up and look around. There are flames all around me. I prepare myself to run through the flames. 3...2...1 and I run through the flames. My coat catches on fire. I drop it and continue to run. Determined not to stay another minute in the fire and run, as fast as I can. I get out the the fire. I hear trucks coming at me. I fall to the ground. The last thing I see are men running at me.
I wake up with bandages all over me. I look around me. I see a clock its 19 hours. I call for the nurse. She comes within a minute. “ Where am i” I say waiting for an answer. She is checking something on her check board and fixing the IV when she says “You're in a hospital in Pairs”
“My family, are they alive.”
“ Your wife, she there is no easy way to say this but she is dead” I can feel tears in my eyes. No, if I made it back sooner, I could have saved her.
“My daughter, Is she-”
“We did not find her. We think she died during the start of the attack”
“Is he still with us?”
“Yes but he is in critical condition” I could tell she regretted telling me that the second she said it “but you can’t see him, you might put him into shock”
“I want to see him”
“Sir you can’t”
“I LOST MY WIFE MY DAUGHTER AND MY SON MIGHT DIE ANY SECOND NOW AND YOU WON’T LET ME SEE HIM!” I felt something go into my arm. “THIS is bull-” In a few seconds all I see is black again.
I wake up there's a doctor next to my. He asks if I want to go see my son. He says he is in stable condition. I get onto the wheelchair and I finally get a new view of the hospital. I look around I see a room where a man seems to be getting stitches. On his bed was a flag. Red, white, and blue. The American flag. I did not know that the United States joined the war in Europe. I get pushed passed the room. I see other people in the hospital. Soldiers. Sick people. I head down the ramp and head to the first floor. “You can use your hands to move the wheels. The last room on the right is your son.”
“Thank you.” I hit the wall a few times before I get to my sons room. I see him in the corner of the room asleep. I see his arm and his leg. There are bandages all over his body. I come closer to him and i reach for his hand. But it’s not their. One of his legs is missing! No no, if I didn’t leave none of this would have happened. I could be looking at my family again. In person; the way it was before I left.
The nurse comes in to check on Andrew. She wheels me out of the room and up the ramps to the upper floor. I can’t hold it in anymore. After everything that happened I start bawling. I don’t care if anyone sees or hears me. I look into the room of the American. He is lying on the bed with stitches on his head. There is a nurse inside the room talking to a doctor. I over hear what they say “ He is in a coma and lost a lot of blood” before I can hear anymore I get pushed into my room which is only a few rooms down. The nurse checks my vitals and leaves. For the first time in a couple of days I am alone. I scan my room. Nothing much is here. A table, bed, Bathroom and a sink. I roll into the bathroom and I see a reflection of me. I look at myself. Blue eyes, Brown hair the average man. I wish nothing had happened everything would have been better.
A nurse comes in and sets down my food and does the usual checks. As soon as I finish eating I get out of my room. I look for something to do. I pass the Americans room, he’s not there anymore. I roll down the hallway into the lobby. There are more and more people coming to the hospital everyday, but they are mostly soldiers from the front lines.There are big windows in the front. I come down here at almost every time I can. I hate staying in my room. There are no windows in my room. So it’s either looking at a pale wall for 8 hours or look at Paris for 8 hours. I see nurse come up to me. “David”
“The doctor needs to see you in your room” I hate it when people say it’s my room. It makes me feel as if I am going to stay in that room for the rest of my life and that I will never get back on my feet. I move my feet back on to the chair and start to push myself back to my temporary room. When I get into the room the doctor is sitting on the chair with a clipboard. “Come in” I roll in and set myself 5 feet across from him. “Have you been using your leg much since the explosion?”
Obviously I haven’t so I just shake my head and say no in sync. “Good, we can take off the bandages for good before you go to sleep.”
“Finally, I can’t wait to take them off”. The doctor walks out of the room, something I will soon be able to do. I start to play with my feet. Trying to get it to move the way it did in the pre-hospital days.
I roll down into the hallway and then to my son room. The doctors told me that he got out of the comma up in the middle of the night. He is still adjusting to his new lifestyle. He does not leave the bed much, only when he has to. He is still confused on what happened; he doesn’t remember much about what happened during the attack. When I get into his room he is eating the lunch meal from the hospital. I looks up and says “Hi dad, how are you”
“Hi, I am doing fine.” I come to see Andrew a lot to figure out what happened after i left to the city. He says he doesn’t remember but sometimes he remembers some small details; like him fighting with Sarah and him running out of the house before it was bombed. “The doctor told me that I can take off the bandages tonight”
“Really! That's amazing, I wish I could walk. I lost my leg so I will be on crutches or on a wheelchair for the rest of my life” I feel bad for Andrew. He has to live the rest of his life without a leg. I look around his room. It’s almost the identical to mine except it is smaller. In the corner of the room there are crutches. I roll over to them and say “Let’s get you out of your room”
“How? I’ll never keep up with you while you're in the wheelchair”
“You don’t have too. I’ll use the crutches while you’ll use the wheelchair. I am not used to using my legs and you're not used to using a wheelchair, so we will be at about the same speed” Andrew smillie. I roll towards him and get out of the chair. I stand on the crutches and help him on the wheelchair. He gets on and starts to move the wheels. He got the hang of this faster than I thought. He starts to roll out of the room and down the hall. “Slow down! I can’t run yet!”
“Sorry dad, It’s just nice to get out of my room” I hurry along with a stager.
“Woohoo, this is amazing” He passes through a dozen people coming up the ramp. He stops in the lobby. He stares out into the city as if it were his first time he saw the city. I finally catch up to him. “I know, it’s beautiful. Let's go get something to eat. We head to the cafeteria and get some food. We sit down at the nearest table to the door. Andrew eats everything in faster than what I thought was even possible. I give him some of my food. I can tell that he is starving. We talk a little then we head back to his room. Once we get their a nurse is waiting for us. “Are you David?”
“The doctor needs to see you in your room”
“Ok, I will be their in a few minutes.” Then I tell my son “Keep the chair i’ll be getting my bandages off soon so I won’t be needing it. I love you”
“Bye dad” He hugs me and I hug him back. I walk to my room and i see the doctor. “Are you ready to get your leg working again?”
“You know it” I lay down on the bed and the doctor starts to cut down the center of the bandages. My leg looks like a raisin. The doctor says to give it a few hours and it will look like it did before. “All done” I get up and walk around the room. “Yes, Yes!” I can finally walk. I thank the doctor and run (which I can finally do) to my son. “I can walk! Andrew-” Before I can say any more I see that he is asleep. I back out quietly back of his room and run to the lobby. It is still light out. So I find a horse and get on. I signal the horse to go faster and faster. I need to see what happens to my home. I pass the spot where I was hit. It all replays in my head again. The heat, the fear, the thought about my family dying. I feel myself sliding off the horse. I snap out of it and get back on the horse. I start to slow down; I see it. My house. It’s gone. All of it. I hold the tears back. I walk toward what used to be my house. I see Andrews byic, Part of Sarah’s bed. God Sarah I miss her so much. It feels as if it was just yesterday I was feeding her. I look for something from Sarah's room but I don’t find anything. Weird. I thought would find something. I’m done with these Germans. I know what I am going to do. I get back to my horse. I ride back to the hospital.
I walk into my room and get a pen with some paper. I write a note to Andrew:
I know what you and I have been hard but I have to go. We have lost our house your mom and your sister. I don’t have a job anymore. I have to go to avenge your sister and your mom. I will be back and I will find out what happened on the day. The day everything went black.
Love, Your father
I fold the letter in half and leave it on his bed. I check out of the hospital and walk to the recruitment center. I sign up to join the 76th division of the French army. I am scheduled to leave today in a few hours. I walk to the train station and take one long look at Paris. This is my home. This is where my son lives and I will defend it with my life.
© 2018 Masoud Nabi