Writing Exercise: The Angel of Mercy (an American Civil War epic intro for Lauren Brouillette)
Lauren Brouillette runs Pure In Heart Lowell in addition to her day job and just recently played a nurse in our upcoming short film, the Fair Fight. It seemed natural, then, that as a lover of classic novels and classic movies, she would be in some grand epic with sweeping scenery and devastating stakes. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
Union Army Medical Camp
Captain Evans finally located Tent 14 and stepped inside. He was at once assaulted by the close heat, the odor, and the sudden lack of light. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust and when they did, he took in the scene before him. Row upon row of beds lined the tent, treated men in all of them. Bandages wrapped heads, eyes, torsos, limbs or the stumps of limbs. Some men were awake and groaning. One man was deliriously fighting the grey-clad nun who gently held him down. It was a nightmarish scene, made the more garish by the obvious attempts at orderly treatment.
Evans took off his hat and began to walk down the line, scanning faces and bodies. The uniforms were from a variety of units and ranks. Shrapnel didn’t care what unit you were from or how old you were.
He was half way down the miserable line when he came across a body smaller than most – a boy, twelve if he was a day, almost unrecognizable beneath the wrapping. His ruined blue uniform bore the insignia of a drummer. He was moving and moaning and when Evans bent down to listen, he heard one word: “Water…”
Evans looked around. The nearest nurse had her back towards him, tenderly applying a fresh bandage to a lanky soldier’s shoulder wound. The man was wincing, his face twisted in tremendous pain, but he was still. Obviously a brave man and Evans might have looked elsewhere when he caught sight of the uniform that clung to the man’s unhurt shoulder.
His temper snapped. Evans stalked over. “Nurse,” he barked.
The nurse looked up at him without stopping her ministrations. She was a young woman, maybe early twenties, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Her dress was neatly fitted and clean, but worn, her demeanor calmly proficient. Evans’ first impression was that this woman was absolutely capable and completely imperturbable.
“Can I help you, Captain?” she asked, politely, neatly finishing her work. Then, to the Confederate, “This will be changed daily, Corporal. I’ll be back later to see how you’re doing.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” the man said, his deep voice weakened into a whisper.
The drummer boy moaned and Evans’ temper boiled. “You’re aware that you’re treating the enemy here?” he demanded, pointing to the man in the bed. “Don’t you think you ought to treat our boys first?”
The nurse straightened and turned to face him. He saw, then, the exhaustion that lined her face and the tendrils of hair that had escaped the neat bun. Yet tired though she was, she met his eyes fiercely, without a hint of intimidation.
“We don’t see uniforms around here, Captain,” she said, stiffly. “We only see wounded.”
“Nurse Brouillette!” The nun struggling with the patient called from the far end of the room.
“I’m coming,” the nurse answered and looked to Evans again. “Excuse me,” she said coldly, before brushing past him.
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