Thursday, 29 December 2011

'Ties That Bind' - 'The House Call' - Romantic Friday Writers Challenge No 28 - Friday 30th December 2011

Welcome to the Romantic Friday Writing Bi-Weekly Challenge, started and hosted by DeniseCovey_L'Aussie, where participants share their own 300-400-word text on a given theme. This week's theme for Friday, 30th December, Challenge No. 28, is 'Ties That Bind'. My text is written directly for this REW-challenge.

Here is my text :

The House-Call

She was only fourteen in 1941,
And had just taken one step away from childhood,
When she fell ill with high fever and red spots.

It was late December,
And colder than ever remembered,
There was war everywhere else except here.

A very bad strain of an infectious disease spread throughout the town.
Several children had already died.
Although an unoccupied country,
It was still not a good place to become ill.

Water-pipes froze in apartment buildings,
So tenants had no drinking-water.
But their house was better built.

There were no heaters in motor vehicles,
Not even in ambulances,
Should she be taken to hospital?
She was better off at home.

In fever-dreams she heard the doctor say:
'She won't last the night'.
But she didn't care.
She was going to Heaven.

Her temperature was almost 40 degrees Celsius.*
Outside, it was almost minus 40 degrees Celsius.**

But she didn't care.
She had just taken one step away from childhood,
And now one step away from life.

The young doctor thought of a new drug that might help her.
He took it upon himself to fetch Sulfa at the army compound.
That was where the lastest medicines were first tried out.
But what dose should he use? Would the same dose for a tall soldier?
Be too strong for a fourteen-year-old girl?

The Sulfa worked.
The fever broke.
It seemed that she would survive.
But she went into a coma,
That lasted twenty-one days.

With no way to feed her or give her drink,
She nearly starved to death.

But after three weeks she woke up.
She looked like a prisoner of war,
Who just left a concentration camp.
The skirt she once wore fell off when she tried to stand;
And then she fell, because she could neither walk nor stand.

So much forgotten during three weeks' sleep.
She had forgotten what she had learned in school, too.
She had just taken one step from childhood,
But it seemed to be one step back into infancy.

Mother, Father and Nurse, all took turns walking with her,
So much to relearn,
If she were to return to life,
And everything exhausted her.

It was now she recalled what she heard the doctor say,
In her fever-dream,
Now she understood,
And cared,
And cried and cried;
She felt afraid,
And knew that she had almost died,
But was restored to life.


Word count according to WordCalc: 400; 'FCA' (Full Critique Acceptable)

*40 degrees Celsius = 104 degrees Fahrenheit
** minus 40 degrees Celsius = minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit

[Text copyright 2011 Christina Wigren]

Best wishes,

This poem/story is based on fact. The girl in the story is someone whom I know very well and who is still alive today as I write this text.

Sulfa was a new drug in 1941; it was later used to induce coma when needed; but they did not know that back then. This was before antibiotics (which would not have helped much because the Measles is a viral infection) and before the use of IV-bags/bottles to hydrate or medicate a patient.

Sorry about the lack of romance, folks! This is actually a real-life Cinderella-story. But this is only 'part one'; she meets her prince in 'part two'.
If I were to write a purely fictional story, I could make the young doctor fall in love with the girl whose life he saved. But that is not what actually happened. I feel it is my duty to keep this story as true to the original facts as possible.

I am fascinated by the idea that one person's actions can help another person survive or let them die. In this case, I wish I knew more about the facts. I could kick myself for not asking the right questions at a time when I had access to a person who was there at the time. I am not sure that the doctor had this medicine with him when he visited the fever-ridden girl. Maybe he really did have to make a trip out in minus 40 degree weather in order to get the Sulfa. What possessed him to do that? Youthful curiosity? A sense of professional pride and duty? Or did the fact that his boss was a close friend of the girl's father make him try a little harder?

There are so many questions that I may never find a definite answer to. Did he suffer afterward, as a result of this outing in the bitter cold? Or maybe he was dressed well enough. Was the fact that other young patients had died of the Measles a factor in his decision? Maybe he decided that he would do all that was possible so that there would be no more deaths?

What I would like to do for this doctor, is to at least find out who he was. There is a hospital archive through which I may be able to identify him. I would like to honour the memory of the man who saved the life of this girl in 1941, seventy years ago.

First Commenter:
Denise Covey
L'Aussie Denise

To read other texts for Romantic Friday Writers Challenge No. 28, with the theme 'Ties That Bind', please visit this site or click on the image below:


DeniseCovey_L'Aussie said...

Oh Anna, dear Anna, you had me sniffing all the way through. What a sad story. I was expecting a sad ending, but you thrilled me with the news that she survived. I love your phrases:

She had just taken one step away from childhood,
An now one step away from life.

Isn't it annoying when we don't take the opportunities to find out more about things that happen, but the seed has been planted in our minds.

I was so looking forward to reading your prosetry. Did you notice I had a little poem in my ghost story? That was fun to do.

As always, Anna, thank you for being such a loyal writer for RomanticFridayWriters. I love what you contribute.

I hope your Christmas was magical and that your New Year is filled with joy and health for you and your precious family.


Heaven said...

I love the prose poetry format. And I am happy to see you writing such a heart warming story of this young girl. She survived, thanks for the doctor's help, but had to relearn everything. At least, she can start anew.

Wishing you Happy New Year and more lovely writes for 2012 ~

All the best~

Laura said...

I too love the format - it seemed to drop the images into my mind - it was a bit like watching a film of the sickness developing, and then breaking, and the slow, heart-breaking recovery. I'm looking forward to reading the 'part 2' romance bit in the same format!

Happy New Year
LAura x

Scheherazade said...

Anna, you have an intriguing story. I don't think you need to worry about honing so close to the facts of the story. You will find truth in your imagination and it will set you and your poetry free.

Life said...

you never let your reader get off your tips....and what a twist....
and i loved the way you expressed her fever...the comparison of her body and outside temperature....:)

lovely piece....:)


Donna Hole said...

Loved the transitional imagery: one step from childhood, one step away from life, one step back to infancy . .

A beautiful tale of survival.


Andy said...

Hello Anna. Happy New Year!
This prosetry (Adura's word) was very touching. Initially, I did think the girl wasn't going to make it, but am glad she survived & still alive today...I love happy endings!

One never knows what possess another person to go above & beyond the call of duty. I think it's commendable that you want to find out even more about this doctor. It would really be magical if he too is still living.

I'm very proud of how far you've come with your writing Anna. Keep it up!
Thank you too for always being gracious & kind with your comments. It's meant a lot to me.

I wish you & your family all the very best for this New Year. May it be filled with much happiness, laughter & of course an abundance of love (smile).

See you soon!

Scheherazade said...

Hi Anna,
Thanks for your comments and clarifications about your goals for fiction and non fiction. My only concern about strict adherence to facts is that it can sometimes be an inhibiting factor that you need to watch out for. You can preserve the facts but don't be afraid to mine those areas of thought, emotion that cannot be represented solely by fact. In other words, be a medium of sorts. You are a very thoughtful writer.

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