Unlikely Hero of the World War

 

Mavis put down the steel container and the old man vomited into it, shivering. She wrinkled her nose and offered him a glass of water before  emptying the container out of the window. There were ten patients in the tiny, curtained room but the only other nurse in the geriatric ward, Helen, was sick for the day.

Mavis had been on her feet since five in the morning, yet someone or (of delete) the other always wanted something. Now as the large clock on the wall struck noon, most of them were peacefully sleeping.

She rested her throbbing head on the cool window pane. Mavis laughed slightly as she remembered her frivolous, younger self a (an delete) year ago.

At 16 years, she was bursting to get out of the house and help in the war. Britain was the sole nation standing against Nazi Germany and Mavis sorely wanted to do something. She would collect The Times papers and stay up all night listening to the BBC radio broadcasts.

When she learnt that the government had formed a new society, the SOE, Mavis finally ran away. The Secret Operational Executive was an attempt to send traitors overseas, parachute them straight into the French Maquis protest groups. Occupied Europe was under strain but still protesting.

At nights, she would lie in her bed and watch mental images running on her white ceiling. She was an agent in France, sending secret codes to the government with danger looming at her every step. She would save Maquis supporters from death and play her part in the war.

Mavis gleefully pictured herself standing over Hitler with a gun in her hand, shooting right at his pencil moustache. People danced in the streets. ‘Britain’s savior,’ they cried. ‘What a woman!’

Mavis could scarcely sleep.

It was not to be. A frail sixteen year old who spoke no French and without a completed education. They deployed her straight to the hospital.

And here she was. Mavis chuckled. Washing dishes, cleaning soaked bed sheets and singing lullabies to deranged seventy year olds. A hero’s life.

‘Dearie, please move away from the curtains will you?’ an (An delete) old grandma called out from the far corner. ‘You’re bringing in sunlight. Honestly, I’m so tired.’

Mavis moved away and walked to her table. She arranged the ten bowls and started ladling the watery soup into each. It was time for lunch.

The small room was dark and smelled of sickness and old people, but they all liked Mavis. She was a tall girl with brown hair and friendly eyes. She was a young thing stuck between them and they all were dependent on her. They all were nice to her and, almost sheepishly, tried to entertain her with drab tales. Except Mike.

Michael Owens was the oldest, most hardcore patient in the geriatric ward. The most insulting but usually the most entertaining. Though everyone knew he was slightly off his rocker, Mavis liked the perky old man.

After giving the bowls to everyone, she sat beside (the delete) Mike’s bed. He looked unusually sober, a distant look stayed in his eyes.

‘Hi comma Mikey.’

‘Yeah what?’  

‘What’s up?’ Mavis patted his head.

He recoiled. ‘Don’t treat me like a freaking baby. No one gives a shit about me.’

Mavis was used to it. ‘Come on comma (one delete) Mike. Tell me what’s up.’

‘I just want my life back. It’s so bloody boring over here.’

‘So do I comma’ (.’ delete) Mavis replied. He wouldn’t  remember anything anyway.

‘You know, I had a beautiful wife. She was here yesterday.’

Mavis squeezed his hand. His wife had died twenty years ago.

‘Get your hands off me, woman!’ he bellowed. ‘If she sees this, our marriage is over!’

Mavis hastily withdrew but chuckled inwardly. She was more than forty years his junior.

The war had brought unexpected people together. Although he was rude, she knew Mike would be happier talking to her. In her heart, Mavis thought, it wasn’t for nothing after all.

In her own small way, she was still helping to change the world.

 

***

I hope you liked this story. It’s touching, what the women of those times did isn’t it? It makes us see our own little faults and lazy preambles in a new light, a higher purpose. For me, Mavis is the true hero in the story even in a nurse’s skirt.

Do show some love.

Like, Comment, Share and Subscribe if you can relate.

Thank you everyone:) I hope to see you on my next post.

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