Snow blew in flurries, the cloak whipped back from her shoulders. With a gasp, she clutched it back close around her body. This was no day for a woman to be out, much less a country to be at war.
The weather made her job harder as blood stained snow crunched under her feet. The wind howled drowning out some of the faint cries of the men who needed her aid. A chill ran up her body as an icy hand clutched at her ankle under her skirt.
She looked down and swallowed softly, the young face half torn and bloodied by his enemy. His coat was blue a Union soldier. She was told to pass them by, they only had time for their own today.
Sarah pulled her foot from his loose grasp and started to move on.
The Yankee attempted to rise as he reached that trembling hand out. “Please…”
The plea tore at her soul as her mind replayed the doctor and his arthritic finger shaking in her face at dawn this morning with warning their supplies were dwindling. “To hell with that ole sawbones.”
Sarah turned back and knelt beside the young blue coat. “Easy, now. I’ll do what I can.”
He lay back in the snow, soft white mixed with blood, soot, and gunpowder. Carefully she tried to find his wound. By the way his face squinched and scrunched as he moved there was something far worse than the cuts and scrapes on the side of his face.
The poor boy was already blue enough to match his coat in the winter air. She tried not to open his coat too wide and loose what little warmth he had. His body shivered hard as she found the cause of his great discomfort.
She drew her fingers back from the wound and saw the blackened blood. Her heart sank lower. This ‘man’ couldn’t be more than sixteen, too young for wars against brothers. Far too young to die.
Sarah ad seen the cantankerous physician diagnose many soldiers with a wound like this one. The blood stained black meant the Federal’s internals had been damaged. All they could do was make comforts, take his last words.
Heaviness filled her for not the first time today. Sarah buttoned his coat back and gave the young man a gentle smile.
His eyes held the knowledge of his future. His hand trembled, flakes of ice fell from the digits as they wrapped around hers. “Write my mother, tell her I was brave.”
Sarah nodded once as the snow began to fall again. “What is your name, where does she live?”
He blinked snowflakes from his eyes as he took a ragged breath. “Thomas Lee Brunell. My parents live in
George…..” He had to pause as his body heaved and coughed speckling his lips
with dots of red.
Sarah smoothed back his hair and tried to calm him. “Shh, be still now. I’m sure your ma and pa are most proud of their brave son.”
Thomas gave her a smile, for a moment it softened those frightened hazel eyes. “I was, I fought well. I have one regret, I never kissed a girl.”
She smiled softly at the surprise in his pained expression. Many men have made confessions and requests as she tended them. None were so innocent as young Thomas. “Do you have a girl you’d like to kiss?”
Thomas gave her a slight nod, and tapped his watch. She opened and held it up for him to see the photo inside the lid. “She’s lovely, Thomas.”
“Her name is Sarah.” He paused to gather strength. “She’s waitin, for me.” It was plain in his expression he realized he wasn’t going to get that kiss with the pretty girl in the picture. His regret.
Her heart clenched for the young man. She brushed his cheek gently with her fingers. “My name is Sarah.” She pressed a soft kiss to his lips and felt him smile with the delight.
His grip tightened for a moment then the fingers uncurled from her hand. Sarah looked down at him, “Don’t leave me, Thomas.”
The hazel eyes were still, but there was a sweet grin on his face. Her breath caught as she placed his hands on across his chest. Sarah stood and gathered her meager bag of medical supplies. Sarah moved to the next call for help.
Now and then, she would glance over as the snow covered the young Federal, he had passed with no regrets. If she survived this war, Sarah swore to live without regret. The memory of a bittersweet kiss to remind her.