The Boys We Love So Far Away

"The Boys We Love So Faraway"

Who: Christiane and Kathleen
When: June, 1918
Where: Backyard Garden of L'Eglise, Arras

What: Christiane and Kathleen take advantage of a moment of peace in the church to talk about their fiances, both fighting far away from them.

Backyard Garden - L'Eglise
[The Grid]-----> > > > > THE LOST GENERATION < < <

Heading out through the well-trafficked backdoor of the church, one enters a small garden that still shows damage from shelling but which has been cleared and repaired somewhat by the medical staff and soldiers. The high stone wall of the church is still partly clad with vines that grow green and healthy. A little lawn can be used to play games on or just to lounge in the grass and rest in the sun. A few mismatched garden tables and chairs are standing against an old hedge that has miraculously survived the shelling and which hems the garden in so that it is an oasis, a quiet and restful place which does not show much of the world outside.

It is currently night time but the light of a flare provides illumination.

Sub-Rooms :


Church <C>

Kathleen sits in the garden, seeking a few minutes solace from the work in the church. The night is quiet except for the moans and whimpers from the soldiers sleeping inside.

Christiane slips out of the church and into the garden. She must've just come off her shift. She looks exhausted, but it's that sort of exhaustion that comes with a restlessness, too. She couldn't just go fall asleep. She looks up at the night sky, and walks slowly over to join Kathleen. She sits beside the other woman, not saying anything for the moment. She just keeps looking up, as if trying to tune out everything but the stars.

Kathleen is startled a little by the other woman's approach, but then offers a weary smile. She says nothing at first, seeming to recognize that exhausted look. God knows she wears it herself more than she'd care to admit. But then she mutters, half to herself. "I'm glad they cleared this lot out. You can almost pretend you're someplace else out here."

"It's very lovely," Christiane agrees softly, casting her eyes down at Kathleen. She returns the other woman's smile with a tired warmth. "And the men…they seem to enjoy it. They have so few pleasures here, it is a true blessing." Not that the nurses have many pleasures, either.

Kathleen nods. "Quite. I think it's as much an escape for them as it is for us." Hopefully the Germans won't shell it again. "Would be nice if we could get a few flowers. 'Course I'm all thumbs when it comes to that sort of thing. How about yourself?"

"I never tried much with flowers," Christiane admits, reaching back to undo her hair from its bun. She's kept it up for so long, it's clearly a relief to shake her brown tresses out. "My mother kept a herb garden. She taught me a little of that. Perhaps I will try. I can show you." She smiles at Kathleen again. "It is not so difficult. It only takes patience and care.'

"I'd like that," Kathleen agrees with a smile. Heck, at this point she'd be happy to take up basket-weaving - anything as a distraction. She watches Christiane shake out her hair, a little envious. Hers is still put up - her shift not over yet. "So, you're from France, yeah?" she asks conversationally. Much as they work together, it's not often they get enough of a break from the wounded to just sit down and chat like this.

Christiane's accent could easily be taken for French by someone from outside the area, and she speaks that language more naturally, though she's quite fluent in English. At the question, however, she shakes her head. "Belgium," she replies gently. "I am from Flanders. A city called Ghent." Her tone grows even more wistful as she says that. "And you are…English?" Because aren't they all?

"Australian," Kathleen corrects with a smile. "Not surprised we can't tell each others' accents apart." She tilts her head slightly at the mention of Flanders. "Oh, is that so? I spent a bit of time in Flanders last year. Outside Ypres." She seems to have picked up the British pronunciation of it - Wipers - probably without really realizing.

Christiane laughs. Softly at first, but it gradually turns into a trill of real laughter. "I am sorry," she chuckles, running her fingers through her hair to keep it from falling in her face. "We are not so worldly, are we? Australian, of course." Her laughter continues for a moment, but trails off at that last Kathleen says. "You were in Ypres?" There's an abrupt intensity to her question. It's especially noticeable, stopping the amusement in her tone dead as it does.

Kathleen just nods, the quiet sadness on her face, and the grim set to her mouth saying far more about the experience than any words could. She seems to shake it off and asks, "Ghent - is that in the west?" Her Belgian geography is not all that great.

"Things were going badly there, then?" Christiane asks, her tone suddenly going very neutral. As if she's gathering ahold of her own feelings. She doesn't answer the question about Ghent. Her eyes are fixed on Kathleen, waiting for an answer.

Kathleen shakes her head, her voice sounding distant. "Never in my life could I have imagined so many hurt… so many dead. And the rain made it all so much worse. Mud so deep you could drown in it. Our blokes took quite a beating."

Christiane nods her head, taking a deep breath. "I know," she says, a little catch in her voice, reaching out to put a hand on Kathleen's shoulder. "I have not seen but…my fiance. Julien." The name makes her smile, even if it is a sad smile. She says it softly and slowly, as if caressing every syllable on her tongue. "He is stationed there. He is a lieutenant, in the Belgian army."

Kathleen immediately looks guilty. "I'm sorry, I didn't know…" And here she was talking about all the death and destruction. Good one, Kathleen. She offers a sad smile of her own in return. "He's an officer, eh? That's grand. Does he write often?" she wonders.

"Every day," Christiane replies, that smile still on her face as she says it. "As do I. We do not get letters every day, of course, but they come in their time. I cannot close my eyes unless I have written to him. It makes me feel…that he is not so far away." As for the apology, she waves it off. "I am not stupid. Or deaf. He keeps the worst of it out of his letters, of course, but that does not change the reality. We have a conspiracy, he and I. We each try to make the other believe things are not so bad, where we are. We are both terrible liars."

"Every day? He's definitely a keeper, then, that one," Kathleen says, her smile brightening a bit. "My Jack - I can barely get him to pick up a pen. But I suppose it makes it all the more special when I do hear from him."

"Jack." Christiane repeats the name succinctly, with a grin. She approves of it. "It's a strong name. Is he back in Australia?"

Kathleen grins in return, "It is - it suits him." The smile fades slightly, tinged with worry, as she shakes her head. "No, he's with the RFC. He was posted to Douai last I'd heard, but that was ages ago." She asks, "Is your Julien from Ghent as well?"

Christiane nods, her eyes coming up to meet Kathleen's. There's a quiet understanding in them, and empathy. As for the question, she shakes her head. "He grew up in Brussels. We are going to go back there, after this is all over." She doesn't sound optimistic, exactly, but there's a determined stubbornness in her tone. "We met when I was training with the Red Cross in the Netherlands. My family fled there, when the Germans came." Her voice goes very flat when she says that. "My mother and one of my brothers and I, at least. Many of our soldiers were sent there, after the invasion."

Kathleen listens attentively, nodding. "I can't imagine how horrible it must be, being run out of your homes like that." There's a quiet sympathy in her voice. "I…" whatever she was about to say is interrupted as another nurse appears in the doorway, to tell her that Private O'Neill is asking for her. Kathleen offers Christiane an apologetic smile and starts to rise. "Sorry."

Christiane waves her hand. Duty calls. She more than understands that. "Go. Private O'Neill needs you. I think I will sit out here a little longer before going to bed. The stars are very beautiful. Thank you, for your company." She offers the other woman a parting smile and nod, then turns back to her contemplation of the sky.

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