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The Red Maple

The Red Maple

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The Red Maple

130 pagine
1 ora
Dec 2, 2020


Red maple trees were planted in honor of servicemen who were killed in action. Nineteen-year-old Bobby’s ashes were entombed under a sapling maple tree after WWI.

A girl was brought to the place he was guarding, but could never leave. A tingle rustled his leaves as he realized that the girl was related to him.

A storm was coming—a different kind of storm—a threatening storm! This was twenty-five years later and the beginning of WWII. What was happening?

A bolt of lightning hit his tree and it fell into the room to which they were taking the girl.

Who was she? He didn’t know her—or did he?

Dec 2, 2020

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The Red Maple - Cheryl Lee


Chapter 1

The year is 1943. Roberta Engle: born and raised in New York City and worked in metropolitan hospital as a nurse. Roberta is five-foot six-inches tall, slim, and has dark chestnut hair, a beautiful complexion, and deep dark-brown eyes. She is a beautiful girl, but in her eyes she is plain. She wears her hair in a bun because of the cap she has to wear while nursing, which gives her an older look. She isn’t the bubbly type, but is quite serious. She never gives way to her emotions; she keeps them in check. She can’t think of her problems, so she suppresses them. Nothing showed in her eyes. Her work was her only escape, her only outlet. She loved what she was doing, helping the sick. She was dedicated to her vocation and didn’t mind the long hours and backbreaking tasks that nurses had to endure at that time.

Her best friend and companion, Martha, often questioned her as to her life outside of nursing. Roberta would just shrug and say, That’s just what I want, no entanglements. I had one unhappy relationship and the hurt from that was almost too much to bear.

But, Roberta, Martha said. Too much work and no play…you know how that goes.

Yeah, how does that go? she questioned bitterly. Martha could not get through Roberta’s pain and anger. She knew that Roberta would not make herself vulnerable again. If only she would come out of her shell and get on with her life.

Roberta, you have to stop dwelling on Tony’s demise. You’re killing yourself, Martha would admonish. She cared. Roberta’s thoughts would always return to Tony, her fiancé.

He had enlisted without her knowledge. They argued. She loved him and didn’t want him to go. She wanted to get married before he left, but his arguments were persuasive and she relented. She saw him off that fateful morning in September 1942.

The train station was crowded with Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines, all saying goodbye to their loved ones. A band was playing God Bless America. The noise level was deafening. The train whistle was tooting, signaling everyone the time to board. Conductors were trying to yell over the confusion, All aboard! All aboard! Roberta and Tony only had enough time for a quick kiss. He boarded the train and waved goodbye, saying, I’ll write. I love you! Her voice was drowned out over the melee as she said, I love you too!

He never made it into battle. A shell exploded when he was on the target range, practicing on cannon; Tony and three others were killed. Her life seemed to be over. She threw herself into her nursing. Remembering still hurt terribly.

After a while she felt she needed a change. She felt constricted by the same routine. She read in the newspaper that the government was in need of nurses. There were so few nurses to be had in this time of crisis. Roberta decided a change of scenery was just what she needed. She joined the Navy Nurse Corps. After six weeks of grueling training, she emerged Lt. Roberta Engle. Her first tour of duty was in the Philippines.

Roberta and about twelve other nurses boarded a Navy transport ship with about three thousand Soldiers, as replacements for some of the troops being battered in the Philippines. There were about fifteen ships in the convoy. As the transport ship she was on moved over the waves to Roberta’s destiny, she knew she was doing the right thing. She and the nurses kept busy preparing bandages and talking to the Soldiers, allaying their fears as well as their own.

Just as the transport was about fifty miles away from the Philippines, word was spread that the ship was on the lookout for Japanese submarines. Everyone was frightened. There was a lot of pacing going on and no one was ever without their May West. About twenty five miles out, a periscope was spotted. Within what seemed a blink the ship was torpedoed.

Roberta was in the water with bodies floating everywhere. She was still afloat, hanging over a piece of wreckage. The screams; the ship on fire; people trying to save other people. Roberta just stared into space, immobilized.

In the newspapers at home in New York, it was written that another transport nearby picked up survivors and that they were being treated in an Army hospital somewhere in the Philippines. Roberta never knew what happened or where she was. She was catatonic. The Philippines was in havoc, and all United States personnel were being evacuated because the islands were being overrun by the Japanese.

Roberta was on one of the first convoys to leave, along with about ten thousand other evacuees and wounded. When the ship arrived in New York, she was sent to a rehabilitation center in upper New York State with about thirty-five others who were in different degrees of trauma due to their inability to cope with the hell of war.

As she was being taken into the hospital building, was a refurbished mansion, a gentle breeze seemed to emanate from a huge red maple tree that was growing in front. It caressed her gently. It probed her subconscious. It wept.

Chapter 2

Roberta was taken into the hospital. Doctor Roger Morton was to be her psychiatrist, and Nurse Adele Green her charge nurse.

Dr. Roger Morton, psychiatrist, U.S. Navy: six-foot-two-inches tall and rather lean-looking, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. He was handsome at age thirty-eight, a psychiatrist for ten years. His private practice was doing well when the war broke out, but the need for all kinds of doctors was great, so he turned his practice over to his partner, Dr. Don Jacobs, and enlisted in the Navy. It was hard treating the cases he was given. In war, the mind snaps under so much pressure, and through trial and error he acquired much knowledge in the treatment of these kind of cases. Sometimes nothing worked… His frustration was great when he couldn’t get through, but when it did, the elation was even greater. He thought he was finally getting a handle on some good treatments. He knew then that it was worth it.

Nurse Adele Green was forty-five, her hair prematurely gray, standing about five foot four, with blue eyes and a determined demeanor. She was a charge nurse in a mental hospital in California before she joined the Navy three years ago. She was kept in Navy hospitals in the States because of her age. She knew her job and did it well.

Nurse Green had Roberta’s chart out and explained to Dr. Morton that Roberta had been catatonic for about three months. She ate and drank when force-fed, but other than that, she couldn’t be reached. She sat in her wheelchair and just stared into space.

Roberta was to be placed in Room 26. A corner room, overlooking a pond. A beautiful view, green lawns, and swans swimming in the pond. As she was being taken up the elevator, a wind came up and a crash could be heard. A tree limb. It had crashed through the window of Room 26 and glass was all over. The limb of the tree had broken off and was lying across the bed. Nurse Green said, Thank God Roberta wasn’t in the room at the time!

Immediately, Roberta was transferred to Room 28, next door. The tree was the only scenery she would see. Where the break in the limb occurred, the tree was bleeding… No one noticed.

Roberta’s wheelchair was placed in front of the window while the nurses prepared the room and made the bed. The hospital room consisted of a bureau with a wall mirror, a hospital bed, a nightstand, and a door to a shared bathroom. On the nightstand sat a lamp, which threw little illumination, and a hand bell to call for a nurse when needed. The room was painted a sanitary stark white, and heavy drapes in a flowered design hung open on either side of the window, the only brightness in the room.

Nurse Green came into the room to take Roberta’s vital signs and prepare her for bed. Dr. Morton would see her in the morning and decide what treatment he would recommend after going over her charts that night.

Nurse Green asked one of the nurses to bring some liquids in for Roberta so that she could be fed before retiring for the night. The orderly helped Nurse Green place Roberta in her bed, and Nurse Green bathed her and combed her hair. A food tray was brought in with food that was hardly appetizing but would sustain her. Nurse Green spoon-fed her. Roberta accepted food into her mouth, chewed, and swallowed without difficulty, but she just gazed straight ahead, unknowing of anything going on around her.

Nurse Green talked and laughed and cajoled her the whole time she was being fed. There was no reaction.

Poor thing, thought Nurse Green. I hope we can do something for her. This kind of trauma disturbed her to no end.

She cleaned Roberta up and took her tray out into the hall and placed it on a cart. The orderly would take it down to the kitchen later.

As Roberta lay there, a gentle breeze flowed in through the partially opened window…

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