Shaney jumped involuntarily. But so did everyone else in the makeshift tent. The bomb had seemed a little too close for comfort. She’d volunteered to assist in the war by coming to the frontline- but was already regretting that decision. This was utter carnage! She shifted uncomfortably.
“Listen carefully!” Sister Margaret practically bellowed over the sounds of gunfire and soldiers’ shouts. “Dr Martin has only got time to suture the internal injuries. We do the rest!” She was rushing her speech now, her attention diverted by the good doctor, as he waved, frantically in her direction.
Shaney’s heart thudded in fright. Nothing had prepared her the smell and gore in the medical tent. Gurneys were littered with the dead or dying as the air inside filled with painful screams.
“Nurse!” shouted a frantic Sister Margaret, “Take this one. Remember: suture, dab and dress. And quickly! More casualties are on their way!” She sprinted away.
Shaney looked down at her charge and gulped. The soldier’s scalp lay like a bloodied sheet , covering the top half of his face. Her stomach lurched. With trembling hands Shaney lifted it back, approximated the edges-as she’d been taught in nursing school- and began to sew the poor man together. She jumped to the next gurney. This soldier’s abdomen lay gaping open.
Over the next few hours, Shaney’s hands steadied and her pace quickened. Injured soldiers poured in as the battle raged outside.
Still, she kept on. Her fingers, flying. Slowly, as the battle abated, so did their work.
All three were able to pause for breath in the dead of night.
“Well done,” intoned an exhausted Dr Martin. Sister Margaret smiled wearily at her. Shaney nodded. Tiredness had crept into her bones but purpose had entered her heart. She now knew where she was meant to be.