A quiet place, I lonely spot, Nurse Girard sits calmly contemplating, thinking about her love and where he may be; her mind is full of dreadful images. Death, destruction, explosions all around, they keep her awake, never-ending, no rest bite, more will come tonight. Fearful nightmares, constant night raids, when will the bombing stop?
Nurse Girard works inside a shell, a ruined edifice, now used as a hospital.
It is July 1944; the allies have broken out of the beachhead at Normandy.
Nurse Girard, she does not care, her world is collapsing, and it is hard for her to bear. Blood covers the floor, a red slippery goo, from wall to wall, they are blood splattered too; from open wounds, and hellish screams, the smell of death, it takes your dreams. Death cries out from all around, nightmarish shrieks, tormented faces surround her, morning, noon and night.
"Please, please, please..." She whispers quietly, quivering lip, single tears role down her blood stained face. She touches it gently, she knows, yet does not know.
Nurse Girard is strong of heart, but now she feels so weak. So much pain, so much misery, and now her worst fears lie in her hands. The letter falls delicately from her right hand, it is a telegram. It is from the French army, she has not read it, she cannot read it. She does not want it to be true and maybe, just maybe, if she leaves it unopened it will not be true, and the nightmare will go away.
"I have to keep this hope inside; please do not tell me, my Pierre has died. No please, they must be wrong, how can I live if he is gone."
Pierre and Elise married in spring of 39, a beautiful day, plenty of singing and dancing, as well as good wine. So long ago it seems now, how much has changed, how much has been lost.
"He told me, he was mine forever, our love so strong, to overcome whatever."
He was tall, a gallant French Officer, Captain Pierre Girard of the French Army. She tries to remember his striking face, she finds an old picture, emotion breaks, my love, my Pierre, agony, and pain, etched, and ingrained.
"Please my love, be a mistake, come back to me now, it's not too late. How could you leave me in this mess, I need you my love, now more than ever."
She sits in silence, comatosed, a living wreck, a zombie host; her silent aguish gently cries, "I do not want to be alive," her screams inside, "I want to die ".
She prays a bomb will end her despair. Closing her eyes, she imagines with all her heart; that he is sitting by her side, to comfort her, and say she is special, caress her hair and kiss her gently on the lips. She reaches out, her left hand to feel his touch, then falls to the floor and kneels to pray.
"Oh please my lord," she cried out loud, "why did you take my love, please bring him back. I cannot live without him, please oh Lord, I beg, I pray. Let my sweet Pierre come back to stay."
Blood stained knees, on her nurse's frock, she slumps to her left, and lies on the blood soaked floor. Grief transfixes her fragile mind; she cannot move, she cannot think, numbness, emptiness, she feels as if she is blind.
Time goes by, but has no meaning. The sirens, the bombing, the shouting, the screaming, nurse's frantically running, hell is all around her. She does not hear, she does not see, her tunnel vision fixed on her 'Pepe'. Remembering his special name, the one she called him, that wonderful spring, a lingering brief happiness, a short-lived, sweet delusion, a lingering smile, she can still imagine through all this hellish confusion.
She remembers them running through cornfields in summer, and drinking champagne under a shady tree. More memories to savour, their last Christmas together, in front of the fire, she sees it so clearly, longing with desire. She knows now, it's impossible, and emotions build up - that was the last time she saw her true love. The last time she kissed him, the last time they touched, the last time she heard "I love you so much".
Finally, the goodbye, as he boarded the train, "It won't be long," he cries, "I'll see you in spring". They wrote to each other continuously, but no letter can replace, his loving embrace. Hitler's tanks had surprised them, going through the Ardennes, and now half a million soldiers surrounded at Dunkirk.
"Please live my love, don't ever leave me".
She remembers those feelings, not knowing his fate, she rejoiced when she found out, he was in Britain and safe, and now he was part of a new French Army, lead by Charles de Gaulle, France was still fighting she thought.
"My love is a war hero, he fought everywhere, North Africa, Sicily, and finally in France, for his heroics in Italy, he won the Legion d'honneur. I felt so proud, he was so brave, my Pepe, my husband, my soul mate, my love".
She picks up the letter, and opens the seal; the pain is incredible, her hands refuse to repeal.
With great sadness I write to you, your husband, Major Pierre Girard died of his wounds, fighting bravely outside of Caen.
In giving his life, he saved many more. He is a true hero of France will never forget, evermore.
Your husband was a great man and a great leader, I wish to convey our deepest sadness at his passing, and wish to tell you his last words. He said as he was lying in hospital, “please tell my beautiful wife Elise, I love her and that she will be with me forever and she will be my last thought, the love of my life.”
Tears fall from swollen eyes, she could not read anymore. Now, she knows she has to fight on, and not give in to her grief.
"I am a nurse," she tearfully cries, "I am here to help the sick and the wounded".
As she regains her composure, she walks back to the ward. The noise is still unbearable, it is impossible to take, but now she feels stronger, Pierre is beside her, always right next to her heart.
Taking a deep breath, she re-enters the bloody madness.
"Nurse, Nurse," the doctor shouted, "Can you look at that man."
Like many others, she will never give up and always fight on.