Letter To The Cold North

Who: Morgenstern, Pierre, Byrd, Kathleen
Where: Church - Medicstation
Summary: Pierre and Morgenstern compose a letter home for Pierre. They get acquianted with Kathleen and banter with Byrd.

Morgenstern is propped up against some pillows so he's half-sitting in the bed. He's feeling much, much better today even if he's still confined to the bed and can't move around on his own. He managed to talk a medical aid into pushing him around on a wheelchair earlier though.

Pierre walks into the church, a somewhat better looking uniform on, but still no rifle. He spots Morgenstern ‘Hey’ he greets the corpral in French, ‘You look like you are almost ready to go back to the front’

Morgenstern smiles a little as Pierre wanders up. ‘Hey,’ he replies and gestures at a chair nearby for Pierre to sit on. ‘Sure. They can push me out there in one of those wheelchairs and I can pull the trigger with a toe or something. Or throw grenades.’

Pierre sits down, leaning back on the chair he digs up a cigarette, offering one over to Morgenstern. ‘Or maybe we can all get some time away from the front. Rest, drink and, well I don't know what else’ he grins ‘Well, maybe I do know what else’

‘Whores?’ Morgenstern says hopefully. With all the flirting he's (not so successfully) been doing with Antonia, you'd think he wouldn't think so much about whores. He thankfully accepts the cigarette and waits for Pierre to light a match so he can light his up at the same time. ‘Well, I will be off the front for a bit this time for sure. And I'm starting to wonder how I'll bear it. I'm already restless.’

‘Whores’ Pierre confirms, digging up some matches to light up both cigarettes, ‘And that plus liquor will make you less restless I am sure’ he suggests. He puts out the match on his boot before tossing it away, ‘When I get off the front some I will walk barefoot everyday. Like I could do all summer back home. I am not always sure God created us to wear these kind of things.’

Morgenstern squints curiously at Pierre. ‘So, where is home?’ he asks frankly, not really expecting an answer. ‘Or rather - what is home like?’ He grunts and gestures at Pierre. ‘Give me the matches, I don't have any.’

Pierre gestures in the general direction of north, ‘Up north, probably have some snow still there’ he says with a grin. He gets out a new box of matches and tosses it into Morgensterns lap. ‘We did not have much time to get what we needed into the ground and then back up again between winter’ He smiles, ‘I will die of the heat here, I am already suspecting it will get too warm for me. Anyway, then in the winter we cut down lumber and hunt. This is just a better option.’

Morgenstern holds the matches up in a gesture of thanks and then tucks them under his pillow for use later when he wants a smoke. The current cigarette is smoked rather carefully, held in his left hand which isn't too badly wounded. ‘The cold north. I can't even imagine winters like that… And yes, it can get hot here though I don't think it's as bad as in Southern France, or Spain or something. And this is a better option? Do you still think it is?’ he asks, watching Pierre seriously. ‘You're too young for this. Hell… you'll never be old enough for this.’

‘It is’ Pierre even looks a little serious, ‘Stay and work in a farm for the rest of my life? Die poor when I am too old to work anymore? And it never sounded like the people leaving for America had it much better.’ He shrugs, ‘There is a war to fight and I have been considered an adult long enough, so why not? There is nothing here to make me regret it’

Morgenstern glances down the rows of wounded for a moment. ‘You're right. Nothing for us to regret. We're here now, we fight and we just live one day at a time.’ Looking back at Pierre, he grins around the cigarette. ‘Will you go back home, at all?’

Pierre rubs his chin, ‘Maybe, I do not know. Maybe I will go visit them in five years if I get some time over’ he doesn't even seem to reflect on his chances of survival for that long. ‘See how they are doing and let them know where I am, I can't ever see myself living up there anymore, no.’

Morgenstern nods in understanding. ‘I'm not sure I will go back home either. Though at least if I do, this time I won't be afraid of the ones I am indebted to. What could they possibly throw my way that I haven't seen already, or worse?’ he says with a shit-eating grin. He finishes the cigarette, stabbing it out into a mug on the table. ‘You write letters at least?’

‘No, I'm not that good at writing letters’ Pierre grins, looking a bit guilty. ‘Didn't see much time in school’ he chuckles a little, ‘I still don't even know where the closest one was. Did not have much use for it then, and it wouldn't have been of much use out here’

It's not like illiteracy is uncommon, so it doesn't even cause Morgenstern to raise his eyebrows. ‘The nurses help writing, though I don't suppose they'd be able to write it in your language. Hell, I could help you write a letter. You should send one before…’ He doesn't finish it and looks away briefly, about to say 'before you die'.

‘Send one before what?’ Pierre asks, not being able to figure that out by himself. ‘The priest back home can read English, I don't think anyone there has even ever heard French. And the nurses here always seem to be so busy. But maybe you are right, let them know I am in France.’

‘Yeah, you should send one, let them know you're here and all,’ Morgenstern agrees, not answering the question. ‘Get some paper and a pen and I'll write it in English,’ he promises, gesturing at Pierre to go get the things right now.

‘Okay’ Pierre agrees, scurrying off to find some writing things, which does not take too long. He returns with the needed material, taking his time to sit back down and lights up another cigarette to buy some time.

Byrd is stretched out on his bed, dozing in as much comfort as a man with a burnt face can doze. Not that his burns look terribly serious, but they're blistered badly enough to lay him up for awhile longer. They've been bandaged and salved, but other than that he's left to his own devices while the more serious cases are tended.

Morgenstern never suffered too badly from the fire but most of his torso is in a bad shape still. He's sitting propped up against some pillows, talking quietly in French with Pierre. As the other legionnaire returns with paper and pen, he inspects the latter to make sure it's working. "Alright," he says, now speaking in English, "how do you want to start?"

"Hello..?" Pierre starts, testing the unfamiliar ground, his words are coming a bit more slowly than usual as he tries to think of how a letter should be, "I am in France, yes. We are fighting against the Germans, yes" He rubs his chin, "How is that for a start?"

Morgenstern hasn't really thought of one problem. He can only speak English, not write it. But it's a bit too late to back away now and besides, Pierre won't know the difference. He eyes the other legionnaire somewhat dubiously. "Why all the 'yes'?" he asks, putting pen to paper. He writes at the top. 'Helo'.

Byrd's eyes open at the sound of Pierre's scurrying, and Morgenstern's speech in French and English. He sits up with a yawn and a stretch, turning toward the other men to get a better view of where they are from him.

Pierre looks at Morgenstern like he's not really sure if the corpral is serious. "So they know it really is so of course." His mind doesn't stay on that for long, his voice slowing down again, not really keeping track if he is talking too fast or not. "I sometimes wonder what our king thinks of this, and where in France his family came from" he looks over at Morgenstern to see if the man is keeping up with his writing.

Morgenstern hurries up to start writing so he won't miss anything. "Keep it slower," he asks, grunting a bit as he scribbles, trying to make sure he spells things right and gets it all down before he forgets what Pierre said. 'I am in france yes we, we are faitin agenst the germans, yes. I somtaims Wunder wat ouer king thinks ov dis and were in france his family caim from.' He inspects that and smiles. "Alright, what's next?" He glances over at Byrd when noticing movement from the tank-driver and he waves.

Byrd raises a hand in a jolly sort of way back at Morgenstern. He even cracks a smile, though it's not his usual cocky grin. That'd irritate the burns. He observes the men from his lounging position but seems hesitant to interrupt the correspondence.

Pierre slows down quite a lot. "We are doing quite well, yes. I got a little too close to a fire and burned my hand a little." He stops and looks up at Morgenstern to let him catch up before he continues. "I use a machine gun here. You should have one for hunting. We are always in a deep trench, so we do not see much of the enemy and we are rather safe there, yes." He eyes Morgenstern again, "Long enough?"

Morgenstern cracks a grin back at Byrd from a somewhat pale and gaunt face. War's taking its toll on him. He goes back to writing, hurriedly. "That looks good to me," he says, reading the whole letter through once. "You want to sign it yourself?"

Byrd grimaces when the fire is mentioned, which just leads to more wincing as the expression irritates his blisters. Those burns are going to be tough on the emotive Kiwi. "Who you writing to, mate?" he asks Pierre, finally butting in. He couldn't stay quiet for long.

Pierre leans in a little closer, keeping his voice down. "Just put 'Peter' there" pointing towards the end of the letter. He leans back in his chair again, "Oh, tell them I will be home to visit in five years too, so they don't expect me too soon." he looks over at Byrd. "Home, just letting them know where I am."

Morgenstern nods and finishes the letter up, adding the name at the end and also a note about him helping in the writing because he feels rather proud about his achievements here. He folds the letter and turns it over so he can write the adress, too. "Tell me the adress," he asks quietly, knowing that Pierre might not want to let that be known to everyone. "I'm just helping him write it," he explains to Byrd. "How're you doing? Fire didn't ruin your ugly mug, did it?"

"Docs say I'll be as pretty as ever to look upon in shy of a week," Byrd replies cheekily to Morgenstern. "So don't think you can keep all the attention of the nurses for too long, Corp." To Pierre he nods, a slow sort of nod. He can more than understand that sentiment. "Where is it you call home? You legion blokes seem to come from every which way in the world."

Pierre once again leans in towards Morgenstern, muttering the name of the town, the country, only "Church" can be heard loudly enough as he leans back, once again looking at Byrd, "Up north" he answers, pointing in the general direction of north, not handing out more specific details than that.

Morgenstern snickers. "They know a real man when they see him," he says, dead pan. "Not my fault I'm irresistable." Says the man with the face of someone who looks like he's ran face-first into a bulldozer and lost. He nods to Pierre and writes down the adress as directed. "He walks barefoot all summer," he explains, pointing at Pierre so Byrd will know who he's talking about. "So anytime soon now he'll take his boots off and cut himself up on shell fragments."

Group: Letters Home
Title: Letter to the Cold North


To: Arvidsjaur church, priest. Read it to Family Stromberg, Arvidsjaur, Sverige (Sweden).

Helo,

I am in france yes we, we are faiting agenst the germans, yes. I somtaims Wunder wat ouer king thinks ov dis and wer in France his family caim from. We ar doin qwate wel, yes. I got a litel to clos to a faier and burnd my hand a litel. I us a mashin gan her. You shod hav one for hantin. We ar alwais in a dip trensh, so we do not see much ov the enemy and we ar rader saif ther, yes. I wil be home to visit in faiv yers to so dont expekt me to soon.

Peter

Korporal Markus Morgenstern helpt raitin the letter.
==============================================================================

Byrd is stretched out in a lounging position on his bed, his face blistered from the burns he sustained on the line, but not doing too shabby apart from that. When Pierre answers him he cranes his neck around in a 'northern' direction. As if the legionnaire may've grown up back in that part of the church where they keep the extra bedpans. He barks a laugh at Morgenstern. "You couldn't find a poke in a whorehouse, Corp," he jokes good-naturedly, chuckling at the man's comment about Pierre.

Pierre looks down on his boots, "I think the skin on my feet is thicker than what these boots have" he says, grinning, "So not really worried about cutting them up" He thinks hard for a moment, "Except the wire. That wire is bad."

Kathleen makes her rounds, checking on a few patients. She makes her way over to where the fellows are chatting, just in time to catch Byrd's last remark. She pretends not to have heard it, but a faint flush would be visible in her cheeks were it not for the dim light.

Morgenstern eyes Pierre's boots, carefully tucking the letter away to give it off to the right person later so it makes its way off to Sweden. "At least you wouldn't get trenchfoot as easily." Then he looks mock-indignantly at Byrd. "Maybe my face isn't much to look at, but when I get my pants off, women-" He thankfully stops there as he's spotted Kathleen. "Lovely weather, isn't it?" he instead says loudly.

Byrd laughs bawdily at Morgenstern, opening his trap to yap back in vulgar kind. But the sight of Kathleen makes him clap it shut. "'Evening, good nurse," he says with a little doff of his head, trying to be gentleman-like. It's not a thing he can pull off.

"Grand, yeah," Kathleen replies, oh-so-thankful that Morgenstern didn't finish that sentence. "And how're you feeling? Bit better, I hope?" She returns Byrd's awkward nod, managing a smile, and asks, "Can I get you lads anything?"

Pierre is still looking down at his boots, missing part of what is going on. "Weather what? Nurse?" he looks up and slams his mouth shut, looking a little lost and confused in the change of conversation, even though he clearly sees the nurse moving about now.

Morgenstern smiles a bit at Kathleen, rather stiffly. For all his boasting, women mostly makes him uncomfortable with few exceptions. Maybe because he usually manages to end up looking like an idiot. "Much better, thanks," he assures Kathleen. "The weather, Pierre. It's nice. I was outside earlier for a few minutes." He contemplates Kathleen's question. "I am not in need of anything now, Nurse. Except to know your name. I don't think we've met before."

"I'm not shabby, love," Byrd replies to Kathleen. "But a cup of water wouldn't be minded." He grins at her as best he can, blistered as he is, but he doesn't leer too much. He always tries to show the nurses more respect than he does the wenches down at the bar. There's nothing uncomfortable about his manner that isn't caused by the burns, though. "I'm Byrd, for my part," he informs Kathleen. Not that she asked. "Me mates call me Byrdie."

Pierre looks back down on his boots, "But it's dark" he mutters a protest at the ground, "Can't see much of the weather then" he puts out his cigarette on his boot, but then holds on to it, not looking quite sure what to do with it.

Kathleen shakes her head, "No, no, don't think we have. Kathleen Campbell. Good to meet you." A smile to Byrd, "And you, Byrdie." She glances toward the door, through which nothing much is visible, and remarks to Pierre, "Maybe tomorrow you can take a turn around the garden if you're feeling up for it."

Morgenstern pulls the letter back out now. "Nice to meet you, Miss Campbell," he says and manages another smile. His English, though well spoken, is accented and not in the way a French person would speak English. "Actually, there is something you could do if it's not too much trouble. Got this letter from Pierre here to send."

Pierre looks back up from the ground "What?", it's not until the mentioning of the letter he grasps the subject, "That is me. Pierre" He gestures towards Morgenstern, "Corpral here helped me out a little. Well, he wrote it for me."

"Happy to," Kathleen says readily, looking to see what letter he's referring to. She steps over to a center table to pour a cup of water for Byrd, and then returns to their cots. "Oh, I didn't get your name, Corporal," she realizes with a smile.

See? Morgenstern is an idiot. "Markus Morgenstern," he introduces himself quickly, even offering his less wounded hand to shake to Kathleen. "Call me Markus." The letter is put on the table for Kathleen to take when she's done at their cots. "I'm going to be here for awhile this time, you'll be tired of seeing me," he jokes.

Kathleen shakes his hand, and replies with a smile, "Oh, now, don't go and be selling yourself short. Besides, looks like you're well on your way to recovering. You said you were up and about a bit today? That didn't hurt anything worse, did it?"

Morgenstern rests back into the pillows, getting rather fond of this soft cot in comparison to a cold trench. "Yes, I talked someone into rolling me out into the garden in one of the wheelchairs. It had very squeaky wheels. But it was nice just going outside for awhile." He grimaces and has to admit; "Made me rather tired though. But other than that, no, didn't hurt me anything worse. Doctor said I should recover fully, I'm lucky." He looks curiously at her. "How long have you been here, Miss Campbell? And where are you from?"

"South Australia," Kathleen replies. "I've been here, oh.." Her nose scrunches a little as she thinks hard about it, "It's going on a couple months now, I suppose." Eyeing his uniform, she asks, "You're French?"

"It always amazes me that you've all come so far to help fight a war that's… well. So far away," Morgenstern says, a bit at a loss of words to express himself better. "Not originally, but I am now. I've bled for France and gotten my citizenship. So yes, I am French."

Pierre looks between Morgenstern and Kathleen a few times before he pushes himself up from the chair, with a small nod he shuffles off towards the exit. "I better go and be useful" he excuses himself.

Kathleen nods, a sadness crossing her face, "I can't imagine how horrible it must be for those that are from here. To see your homes torn apart by war…" she shakes her head, words failing her. She shakes her head again, and tries not to think about it. "So where are you from, originally?" She nods to the departing Pierre. "Take care," she tells him.

Byrd lifts his head up when Kathleen speaks of her home, something in her accent ringing somewhat familiar. Not too familiar, but somewhat. He doffs his head to departing Pierre. "Don't be too useful, mate. Lot of work, that is." His own voice is pure New Zealand.

Morgenstern gives Pierre a wave. ‘See you soon, Pierre’ he says in French to the departing Legionnaire. "I suppose it is horrible. I've never actually lived in France though, I've only fought here. After the war I am opening a cafe on the Riviera," he exclaims loudly. As if repeating it to everyone he meets will make it true. "And, ah, originally I am from Frankfurt."

"Frankfurt? As in, Germany?" The concept so completely baffles Kathleen that at first she doesn't know how to react. She glances over at Byrd as if to check whether she heard that right, eyes narrowing in confusion.

"I'm from the South Island, myself," Byrd rattles glibly. Did anyone ask him? No. Does that matter? Nope. "Christchurch, to be precise. Nice kind of place. Not much of a big city, but big enough a bloke can lose himself in if he has a wish to. Damn good fishing." He doesn't show any unease at the corporal's unfortunate citizenship, shrugging lightly at Kathleen. "Corp's as French as them farmers outside the village now, love," he says. "Them legion blokes come from all over. He's a good chap, even if he is ugly as sin."

Morgenstern watches Kathleen's reaction carefully. "Yes," he says, not particularly bothered telling people any longer. He snorts at Byrd. "You're just jealous, Byrdie." He enjoys the banter though, and there's something suggesting he considers Byrd to be a good friend in the way he acts to the tank-driver.

Kathleen considers it for a moment, Byrd's commentary apparently tipping the scales in Morgenstern's favor. So she quirks a little shrug and smiles, "Well, good on ya, then. The more we've got fighting the Hun, the better, right?" She says to Byrd, "Christchurch, eh? That's on the east, is it?"

Byrd lets out a laughing, "Nah!" at Morgenstern. "Jealous? Nothing doin', Corp. You might be the better soldier, but there ain't none so pretty as I." He doesn't look so pretty now, with his face all blistered up, but that hasn't dimmed his bravado any. To Kathleen he nods. "Aye. East coast of the South Island, right up against the Pacific. Blue as the sky, that ocean. Some days, can't tell where the water stops and that sky starts."

Morgenstern laughs a little as well, but cuts it off sharply as that just hurts. "You make me laugh, Byrdie. Stop that," he grunts and burrows himself down further into the cot, suddenly exhausted. "Way you talk about your home makes me tempted to go there instead of the Riviera after the war." His eyes drift close. "Sorry… I need to sleep for a bit…"

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