Joey and I were hanging out the laundry while Mathew was waiting indoors.
“Jenny, we’re going to have to tell him.” he whispered as he folded the sheets.
“Not yet.” I replied. I wasn’t ready yet, he wasn’t ready yet.
“Anyone would think that you’re ashamed of me.” he joked.
“Of course not.” my pale cheeks flushed scarlet. I was not ashamed of him, I couldn’t be. I wasn’t sure were my heart lay, with Joey or Mathew. I didn’t want to admit it, I was too stubborn. We continued our whispered conversation all the way to the house. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a jet appeared, then another and another. The sky was soon filled with the roar of engines and the sight of fast moving fighter jets. The tang of petrol stained my lips. Nothing to worry about. It was probably just a training exercise. But then there was an almighty explosion and smoke billowed from the harbour. This was an attack. We ran.
I was useless. The scene unravelled before me shrouded in smoke, dust and debris. People were screaming. Blood curdling wails for help, family anything. I was useless. The stench of burning flesh and fear was overwhelming. The worst thing was the silence amongst all the noise. People lost for words and another type of silence. Submission.
“Get down” Joey screamed. He grabbed me and forced to the ground as a jet passed so close it ripped at my hair and clothes. I could see the pilots determined face. On his head was strapped a Japanese flag. I met joey’s fierce stare and knew what we had to do. I wasn’t going to try and stop him because I knew that he could not live with himself if he did not do anything, as would I.
“I love you” I had never told him this before but in that moment I knew. “Stay safe, look after Mathew. Now leave before I decide otherwise” I laughed. Then I saw Mathew. He looked devastated. I kissed his cheek and hurried inside to retrieve my nurse’s uniform. Get ready for hell.
The hospital was frantic. Everywhere I turned there was a patient. I lifted my water to my lips with a shaking hand. Calm down. Vomit splattered on my shoes but I barley noticed. I struggled to keep on track. I pushed the door into an empty room. It was peaceful here. Perhaps I would never come out. Hopefully. I couldn’t. I had a duty. I could not give up on the world. Give up on Joey and Mathew. I shouted to the other nurses. We needed order. Hard alongside all the madness. We had to move them. They would get slaughtered here. We filled the hospital almost at once. We couldn’t treat everyone. People with no arms and legs. Blood swam before my eyes. Everywhere. Blood. Screams. Grown men screaming for their mothers. Screaming to die. Bombs were exploding left right and centre. Bodies flew horribly like rag dolls being tossed by the Japanese. Controlling them like puppets. Men being burnt alive like their lives were worth nothing, something to be thrown away like trash. It was revolting. Blood splattered my face but I wiped it of. It could have been my blood for all I knew.
The doctor screamed at me but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. The cries of the wounded were too great. I tried to sooth them but there was nothing I could do except give them their medicine and speak calmly to them. Something grabbed my arm. I spun round and punched.
“You’re on sorting” he walked of while I was stood there frozen. Sorting. I couldn’t play God. It was wrong. But this was my job; I had to do my job. I slowly walked down the corridor. It was crowded but everything and everyone seemed to just miss me. I was no longer aware of the screams, bombs, death. I had a mission to focus on, that was the most important thing. Focus.
I opened the clasp of my purse and fished out my lipstick. The noise hit me as if someone had turned up the radio. The bombs were so loud they made my ears vibrate. I ran now. A man was screaming, clutching a leg that wasn’t there, I drew a “c” on his head. “C” for critical. He could not be saved. I moved on to the next, and the next. Condemning the men. They were marked men. And then I saw them. My world came crashing around my ears. Joey and Mathew. Both severely injured, both calling for me. The doctor was by me again.
“Only enough room and medicine for one more. I’m sorry but it is on your shoulders now.” No. No. This could not happen. I gazed at the lipstick in my sweaty palm. Blood red. Ironic really.
So here we are considering everything. This is so wrong. Mathew was my first love, romantic. He made me feel loved, grown up, important. But we had our bad times too, arguments and fights. Joey made me laugh, he made me smile and feel warm inside. He mended my heart when Mathew broke it, picked up the pieces and sewed them back together. I had made my choice then. But did I have to choose?
Applying my lipstick I walked up to the men, as if I was in slow motion. I’m so, so sorry. I kissed his forehead. Mathew. I’m so, so sorry. The kiss of death.
My Mother used tell me that some people say love is everything, that it is wonderful. Some say it is the most powerful thing in the world and the most deadly. But I say that it hurts. It hurts so, so much. It may be seeing someone you love with someone else or them not knowing that you exist that makes you die inside. But I will say this, it is worth dieing for.