Combat nurse

The siege ended two days ago. Now is a time of respite and negotiation. The battered and injured are still, gathering their strength in this quiet time between battles.

I see Shabbat approaching, but she is no longer my well-heeled, festive beloved. She has laid aside her glittering gown for a plain white smock, tucked her hair under a kerchief and scrubbed her face clear of makeup. She pauses beside each soul, offering rest and comfort to those who quake at the prospect of the coming struggle. Her feet slap softly against the rough floor as she approaches me.

“Take courage,” she whispers, lifting medicinal wine of my lips. As she presses a crust of bread to my palm, her smile offers a promise of sweet times yet to come. She moves to her next patient, and I realize that she has never been more beautiful.

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