Part four of the five part War Years Saga is Dotty’s story. If you haven’t read Alice & Nick’s installment, Isuggest you go back and read that now, as there is something that happens in it that is very central toDotty’s story. Interestingly, this chapter is actually the one I wrote first, as its events and their timing werekey to making sure the rest of the storylines came together.For all the War Chapters, the warnings are the same: language, subject matter, and character casualties.War is not pretty, so there are parts of these chapters that will deal with difficult subjects.Enough of my blather. Enjoy Part Four of Chapter 29: The War Years.
Alice,Attached you’ll find my recollections on the War. I hope that they’ll help you understand why I acted theway I did a bit better. Let me know if you want anything more – I actually enjoyed writing this a lot morethan I thought I would.Love,Dotty
The Second World War isn’t something that I like to think about. It took my big brother away from thesafety of the life he thought he’d have with his new bride and shoved him into trial-by-fire medical training.It took my twin brother and sent him off to float between some unknown specks of dirt in the middle of theSimcific Ocean that no one had even heard of a few years ago. And it took away the man that I wassupposed to grow old with, the man with the sparkling hazel eyes and the carefree grin.
We met while I was in college. I was reluctant to go at first, but Dad and Mom insisted. I wasn’t sure whatto study, so I took up a course in literature, and it was through that I found him.
Perhaps I should be a little clearer. I met Lieutenant Edward Haywood as I was rushing across campusbecause I was late for my Simlish Literature class. I wasn’t paying attention, and I crashed into him – quiteliterally. How I ever managed to do that I’ll never know. He was tall, well-built, and quite the imposingpresence in his uniform.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I exclaimed. “I wasn’t paying attention because I’m late for class and…” I looked up intothose hazel eyes and completely forgot what I was about to say.“That’s quite alright, miss,” he said. “I’m not harmed, though you appear to be a bit flustered.”“Oh, do I? Oh! I’m late for class,” I stammered.He smiled at me. “I believe you mentioned that, miss. Can I be of any assistance?”
I had to blink for a few seconds longer than was natural to clear my head from the intoxicating power thisstranger had over me. “Unless you can convince my professor not to mark me tardy, I doubt it.”He smiled again. “Where’s your class?”
During our brisk and brief walk to my class, we exchanged names and pleasantries. When we got to myclassroom, he held the door for me before following me in and claiming I’d been tutoring him and we’d losttrack of time, which is why I was tardy. My professor accepted the lie, and I said goodbye to LieutenantHaywood sadly. I was certain I’d never see him again.
You can imagine my surprise when I saw as I left class. He was leaning against a tree, scanning the ladiesas we exited the building. I quickly smoothed my hair, and walked towards him, ignoring the butterflies inmy stomach as I approached him.
“Hello.”“I hope you don’t think I’m being to forward, Miss Bradford, but I was hoping you might be interested injoining me for a Coke down at the soda fountain.”I know I blushed. “I’m sure you have more important things to do.”
“More important than getting to know a pretty redhead?” he said, flashing me that smile that made myknees go weak.“But you’re an officer!” I burst out before I could stop myself. “That’s very important.”“Not until I finish training I’m not. I’m part of the Army Specialized Training Program I’m doing here.”
“And after that?” I asked as bravely looped my arm though his and we started walking down the streettowards the drugstore.“Well, I’m not sure about that. I’ll get assigned to a unit, and probably command a squad of men. TheMarines are getting to have all the fun in the Simcific, so I’m guessing I’ll go see what I can do aboutrestoring order in SimEurope.”
We spend the rest of the afternoon sitting at a table, sipping our Cokes and talking. We talked about ourfamilies (he was an only child and his father had served in the Army during the Great War), school (he’dnever really wanted to go to college until he’d heard about Officer Training School), and our hopes (hewanted to become a General). He was so shocked when he heard that I wanted to travel the world.“Most girls I know want to put roots down,” he commented.“Every few generations, my family turns out someone with wanderlust. I guess that’s me.”“Good to know.”
We talked for hours, and we probably would have talked longer if Edward hadn’t needed to return to hisbarracks and I back to my dorm before the blackout curfew. He walked me home, and when we reachedthe front door he turned to face me.“May I see you again, Miss Bradford?”“Only if you call me Dotty,” I said, blushing again.
He flashed that smile at me again, and the butterflies danced in my stomach again. “Okay, Dotty. Butyou’ll have to call me Edward. Despite all this madness, when it’s just us we’ll pretend we’re just a boy anda girl getting to know each other. Deal?”“Deal,” I replied, holding my hand out for him to shake.
He took my hand, but pressed a kiss to it instead.“I’m not sure when I’ll have a chance to see you again; I’m sure you can imagine how crazy my scheduleis.”
I nodded. “I’m usually home in the afternoons, since all my classes are in the morning. Except forWednesdays, when I have Red Cross meetings.”“I’ll do my best to send word when I’m coming, but…”“I understand,” I said with a smile. Just come back, I’d though silently. Please.He smiled back. “Good night, Dotty.”“Good night, Edward.”
I went inside my dorm, and immediately went to peek out the window. Edward was still standing there, andhe must have caught me looking because the corners of his mouth were twitching upward. I waved shyly,and he tipped an invisible cap to me. Then he turned and walked down the street, his step moving quicklyas he hurried to reach his destination before curfew.I in turn hurried up the stairs, floating. I’d never felt like this with anyone before.
I found Edith in my room, sitting on my bed.“We were supposed to get dinner together, you know,” she said in an accusatory tone. “What happened?”“A tall, handsome officer named Edward Haywood happened,” I replied with a grin.Edith smiled, shifted over to make room on my bed, and patted the space next to her.“You’re going to tell me all about it, right?”
Time passed in a blur. Edward was always busy with his training and I with my classes, but we alwaysfound time for each other. Often it was just a stroll in the park on a warm afternoon, but there were moreproper dinner dates and dancing as well.In those moments we were together, everything was perfect. I would forget my worries about Nick, aboutDanny, Walter, and John, Edith’s husband. Nothing mattered except the two of us.
We talked about what the future might bring. Edward wanted to make the Army his career, and he keptbringing up the fact that I wanted to see the world. I suppose I was a little dense, because I didn’tunderstand what he was hinting at. It wasn’t until he pointed out that he’d likely be stationed somewhereoutside of Simerica after the war that I finally realized what he was hinting at.“You’re talking like you want me to go with you,” I said slowly.“Well,” he said, taking my hand, “You do want to explore the world. What better way to do that than as thewife of an army officer?”
I froze. “Are you proposing?”“Not yet,” he said. “But soon I plan to, once I’ve had the chance to speak to your father.”I smiled at him. “I think I’d like to see the world that way.”“Good.”
I should have known the happiness wouldn’t last. We were in the middle of a war. A war is no place forhappiness. Though no one knew what the exact plans were, we all knew that the Allied forces would bestaging some sort of invasion of SimFrance to free it from the grasp of Simmany. The only questions thatremained unanswered were the when and where.I was walking back from class when I saw Edward, pacing back and forth in front of my dorm. I quickenedmy pace when I saw him.“What’s wrong?” I asked, immediately knowing that something was.“I have my orders. I leave for Simland at the beginning of next week.”
My stomach knotted up. “Today’s Thursday,” I said, my voice barely above a whisper.“I know.”I blinked fast, not wanting him to see me cry. “So…what?”“I’m not sure.”
Edward must have sensed that I was struggling to maintain my composure, as he took my hand andguided me towards the small garden behind my dorm and helped me onto a bench. He rubbed the back ofmy hand with his thumb.“Say you’ll wait for me, Dotty? I was planning on asking you this weekend, but…”
A million thoughts were swirling through my head at that moment, none of them coherent. All I could dowas stare into his eyes, those beautiful hazel eyes that I could get lost in so easily. His lips were moving,but I couldn’t understand anything that he was saying.“Sweetheart?” he asked. “Are you all right?”
“I don’t want to wait,” I blurted out. The look of shock on his face was awful, and I quickly retracted mystatement. “I mean, I don’t want to wait because I’d rather marry you before you go.”He cupped my face in his hands. “Dotty, do you understand what you’re saying?”I placed my hands on his. “Yes. Won’t it make it easier, once the war’s over, for me to join you, if I’malready your wife?”
He shook his head ever so slightly. “You do beat all, Dotty. If you’re sure, then yes, we can get marriedbefore I leave.”I kissed him. “I’m sure.”“Then we’ll get married…”“Tomorrow.”
“Are you sure? Don’t you need time to find a dress and…”I silenced him with another kiss. “You worry about getting us a marriage license, and me a wedding ring.I’ll take care of the rest.”“What about your parents? I only met your father once, and I’m not sure he likes me.”“You’re dating his only daughter – of course he doesn’t like you. But he’ll understand. Between Mom,Alice and I, he’ll come around.”“I’ll pick you up tomorrow at ten then. It’ll have to be a simple ceremony at city hall.”“That’s fine. We can have a bigger party to celebrate when you get home.”
He nodded, a big smile breaking out on his face. “We’re getting married tomorrow.”I returned the smile. “We’re getting married tomorrow. Now shoo! You have your list of things to do, and Ihave mine.”He pulled me close and kissed me. “I love you, Dorothy Bradford.”“I love you, Edward Haywood.”
With Edith’s help, we tracked down a white dress for me, and I braved the phone call to my parents, tellingthem I was getting married the next day. Dad yelled and stormed as I knew he would, but Mom and Alice’sexcitement trumped that, and they all quickly agreed to come to the city first thing to see me married.The morning of my wedding dawned cloudy, but I was too excited to notice. Mom and Alice helped me getready, and soon we were heading towards city hall, ready to get me married.
Mom and Alice went inside first, but Dad held me back.“Princess, are you absolutely sure about this?”“I love him, Dad.”“I don’t doubt that, Princess. But I don’t want you doing something in haste that you’ll regret later on.”“No, Dad. We’ve talked about getting married, but the war’s just made things move faster than they wouldhave otherwise.”Dad nodded. “If you’re sure.” He smiled sadly. “My little girl. This war’s taken away so much from you.”“It’s given me quite a bit too. I’d never had met Edward otherwise.”
It was a quick, simple ceremony, but I wouldn’t have changed any of it. The ring he’d picked out wasabsolutely perfect, and I saw my mother and Alice wiping away tears as we exchanged vows. The onlything that could have made it more perfect would have been having Nick and Danny there; they’d lost outon their chance to be overprotective big brothers.
As we were exiting city hall, Dad stopped Edward and I. He handed Edward a key, an odd look on hisface.“Every couple deserves a honeymoon,” he said. “I’d offer you the family’s cabin up in the mountains, but Iknow you don’t have enough time to make it there and back before you have to leave. That key is for aroom at the Simmont Hotel. It’s not much, but…”“Thank you, sir,” Edward said.I flung my arms around my father. “Thank you, Daddy,”“Only the best for you, Princess.”
It wasn’t much of a honeymoon as we only had that afternoon and the next day before Edward had toreport in to prepare for his departure. We made the most of the little time we had, and when we left thehotel I returned home to my dorm with a heavy heart.
I was up before the sun the next Monday, at the docks to see my new husband off.“I’m travelling in style,” he said, trying to lighten the mood as he nodded over his shoulder towards theocean liner that had been commandeered for transporting troops.“Lucky you,” I said, trying to be brave like Alice had when she’d sent Nick off.“I wish you were coming with me.”“So do I.”
He took my hands. “But I’ve got my work to do, and so do you. Finish up school, find some sort of work tosupport the war effort to fill you days, and we’ll be together again before you know it.”I smiled. “Yes, we will.”“I want you to promise me something. I want you to promise me that if something happens to me, you’ll goon with your life.”“Don’t say that!” I gasped. “It’s bad luck or something.”
“Dotty, sweetheart, I’m being realistic. Some people aren’t going to come home. I’m going to doeverything in my power to be one of the ones who does, but if something happens, I want you to promiseme that you won’t give up on living.”I bit my lip, but nodded slowly. “I promise.”“Good.”
One last kiss and he was off onto the ship. I stayed, a smile plastered on my face, waving at the ship untilit was no more than a blip on the horizon. By that point the docks were nearly empty, save a few of theworkers. I understood in that moment how strong Alice was, for sending Nick off as calmly and gracefullyas she had. It was draining, and all I wanted to do was go home and crawl back into my bed to have agood cry.Figuring the walk would do me good and save gas for the war effort, I turned and began marching backtowards my dorm.
I slipped in unnoticed and crept down the hallway to my room. I’d expected to find it empty, but sitting thereon my bed was Alice.“Your mother’s watching Steven for the day. I thought you might want a friend.”I nodded, and rushed across the room to her open arms where I broke down into sobs.
Alice didn’t say anything; she just patted my back and made soothing noises. Eventually, I managed to pullmyself together, and she handed me a handkerchief.“Feel better now that it’s out?”I blew my nose and nodded. “How did you do it so gracefully?”
“I did the same thing you did just now when we got back from the train station to see Nick off,” she said,somewhat wistfully. “The important thing is that he doesn’t see you cry; I don’t think there’s a lady inSimerica who wouldn’t understand your need for a good sob.”“Rosalie wouldn’t.”“Rosalie’s not entirely human, I’ve decided,” Alice replied with a smirk. “But she is family, and she doesmean well.”“Keep telling yourself that.”
Neither of us had eaten breakfast yet, so Alice took me to a small café where we indulged in coffee andsweet rolls. I was hungrier than I realized, and soon the plates and cups were empty.“What are your plans?” Alice asked gently.I shrugged. “Edward wants me to finish school and then find some sort of war work to fill my days while wewait.”“That sounds like a good plan; your parent would be heartbroken if you didn’t graduate.”“But what after that? I don’t think I’m cut out for shipyard work like Shirley, and I can’t work for the RedCross with Rosalie in charge of it in Simsfield; I just can’t.”“I don’t blame you there; I can barely stand being part of it myself.”
I smiled at her, but I was busy thinking about what I could do. I certainly wasn’t build for being a Rosie theRiveter like Shirley, and I didn’t want to join any of the incarnations of the Women’s Corps like NancyPhoenix, one of Shirley’s friends, had. My mind briefly lingered over the idea of doing something with theUSO, but I barely had any performing talent.“Well, I’ve got a bit of time before I need to make a decision,” I said aloud. “In the meantime, I’mdetermined that I’ll graduate top of my class.”Alice nodded. “That sounds like an excellent plan.”
I threw myself into my studies, filling my days with books, assignments, and term papers. I wrote toEdward every day, even if it was just a short note or a piece of v-mail. His letters were frequent, though notas frequent as mine must have been to him. I wrote about everything and nothing, from the funny thingsthat happened in my classes to how the flowers were beginning to bloom.His letters were filled with stories about the soldiers in his command, questions about what I was doing(and the occasional mild scolding when he thought I was becoming too much of a homebody), and ideason what we could do when the war was over. I wish he’d been able to write a bit more about where heactually was and what he was doing, but I knew that the information would have been censored even if hehad. It was of vital importance that letters not contain any sort of details that could aid the enemy if they fellinto the wrong hands.
Graduation came and went with very little fanfare; Dad and Mom and Alice and Steven came, along with afew other people to see me receive my diploma. I really wished that Edward could have been there, butDad took a snapshot of me with his new camera, so that I could send a copy to Edward.In the letter where I sent him my picture, I also shared the news of how I planned on filling my days until thewar ended and he came home.
Edith had come into my room, knocking on the door as she opened it as she always did.“Dotty, are you doing anything this afternoon? I’m going down to the hospital to join the Cadet Nurse Corp,and I want someone there for moral support.”“You’re going to become a nurse?”She nodded eagerly. “I need to do something to fill my days; I can only help out with so many war bonddrives and the like. Besides, it’s an accelerated program so I’ll become finish the training faster, it’ll free upfully trained nurses to go overseas, and pay, room, and board are included.”My eyes widened in shock. “Of course I’ll come with you. But why the moral support?”“I hear the head nurse is rather…strict.”
She was. Her uniform was perfectly pressed, even in the heat of a summerlike afternoon, and not a hairwas out of place from the tight knot she wore it in. She eyed Edith and I warily.“It’s an accelerated program, you know. You’ll be working and learning at the same time, and it’s not foreveryone.”Edith nodded. “I understand that, ma’am. I just want to do my part to help the war effort.”The older woman nodded once, a sharp, crisp movement. “Very well. Please complete this paperwork;you may use the table in the hallway.” She handed Edith and I a small stack of forms each.
I slowly took my stack. I’d not intended on signing up; I’d only wanted to support Edith and possibly hearmore about the program.“Mrs. Haywood?” I must have given a start at my new name, because she eyed me again. “Newlymarried, I presume?”“Yes, ma’am,” I replied, nervously twisting my wedding ring. “Lieutenant Haywood is somewhere inSimEurope. He doesn’t tell me too much about what he’s doing, of course.”“As it should be. Loose lips sink ships, after all.”I nodded, unable to say anything as I was afraid of saying the wrong thing.
“Mrs. Haywood, as the wife of an officer, surely you understand the need for all of us to do our part to helpthe war effort. Fully trained nurses are desperately needed, and by enrolling in the Army Nurse Corps youwill free them to go to the front lines. We have all been forced to do things that make us uncomfortablebecause of this war, but we do it because we must. Are you going to sign up for the Cadet Nurse Corp, ornot?”I certainly didn’t like her tone, but some of what she said rang true. I did need something to do, and therewas a great need for nurses. I’d never considered myself a nurturing person, but if Edward had thecourage to face the Simmans I could have the courage to face patients.“May I have the forms, please?”
Training was intense. We had classes, practical exercises with actual patients, and lots and lots ofstudying. From his letters, Edward seemed pleased that I’d found something to do with my time, though heseemed a bit skeptical about it.It just seems like an awful lot of training to go through, only to become a full-time wife and mother once thewar’s over and you and I are together again.I was a bit harsh in my reply.Who knows how long it will be from when the war ends to when you and I are able to be together again?Your assignment, since you are an officer, may last longer than that of those who are enlisted. It’s not easywork, but it is rewarding. Besides, nurses are always a necessity; perhaps I shall join the Army myselfwhere my services will be more appreciated.
I confessed to Edith that I felt bad about what I’d written, as she was my roommate and often saw myfrustration with some of Edward’s letters.“So what? He’s doing his thing, and you’re doing yours. Don’t ever feel bad about what you’re doing,Dotty. The patients love you, and you’re getting better at what you’re doing.”
She was right. I was getting better as I grew more confident in my skills, and the patients did like me.Many of them were soldiers, on the long journey home after having sustained substantial wounds on thefront. Often, I’d find myself staying long after my shift was over, passing out mail and offering comfort tothose I could. There were the occasional surly ones, but I didn’t let them bother me.
We all knew the big push of the SimEuropean invasion was coming; even the Simmans must have known itwas inevitable. The only question was when. And that question was soon answered with big, boldnewspaper headlines.Alice came to see me when news of the invasion came out. She was calm and collected as she alwayswas, but the pallor of her skin and the dark circles under her eyes showed the strain she was under. Nick,of course, was not part of the action, but she knew the toll the casualties would take on him as he treatedthem. I was worried because I knew that Edward’s unit was part of the invading force. And Walter wasprobably part of it too, as was John, and other boys I grew up with in Simsfield. So many people to beworried about.I didn’t read the newspaper – I was too scared. I was afraid I’d see Edward’s name on a casualty reportwithout having gotten a telegram. It had been known to happen. And with the large number of them fromthe invasion, I wasn’t going to take any chances. I was somewhat relieved when I got a letter from himabout a week after the news broke.
June 4, 1944My darling Dorothy,I know I just wrote to you yesterday, and that my letters are not usually so frequent, but I amfeeling the need to write again tonight. I can’t tell you exactly why that is, but I’m sure that you’lllearn the reason soon enough.It’s strange that I feel so oddly close to you tonight. Normally, I feel each and every mile thatseparates us, but tonight I feel as if you’re no further away than you were when you were in yourdorm and I in my barracks in Portsimouth. That must sound silly to you. There’s an oceanbetween us, after all. Still, I feel as though I could simply take a short walk, and see your smilingface again.I have a confession to make, Dotty. When I met you, I was doubting my decision to enroll in theofficer training program. Yes, it was what was expected of me, as the son of a colonel, but Iwasn’t certain a military life was the one I really wanted. But being here, and seeing firsthandthe destruction the Simmans have caused in Simland, has solidified the knowledge that I am doingwhat’s right. There’s a horrible kind of evil on the loose over here, and it’s our job to stamp it out,for the good of all Simkind. Then, I’ll come home and we can settle down and have that housewith the white picket fence and bicker over what kinds of flowers to plant in the garden. I cansee it so clearly right now.I’ve made absolutely no sense, have I? You must be shaking your head at me as you read this. Ican see it in my mind, the light playing off of your red hair. I know you don’t see it, Dotty, butyou are so beautiful. I’m a lucky man to have such a wife to come home to. I want you toremember the promise you made me, Dotty. If something happens, live your life. Be the bestpossible nurse you can be. Use it to help you see the world. Do all the things we talked about.It’s getting late, and I should put my pen down. I’ll write again as soon as I’m able; you’llunderstand why soon enough. Goodnight, darling.All my love,Edward
I knew straight away he was writing because he knew they were leaving soon, and his thoughts werescattered because he was trying to say so without actually saying so. Neither of us knew at the time thatthat letter would be the last I’d ever receive from him.
I still can’t talk about that dreadful day when the Simstern Union man came to the farmhouse with thathorrible scrap of paper. Of course, I don’t really remember much after Dad knelt before me, took my handand said, “I’m sorry, Princess.” A horrible, agonized scream. The crash of china. The final notes of BingSimbsy’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” on the radio. Then, blissful nothingness.
War DepartmentThe Adjunct General’s OfficeWashington, DC17 July 1945Mrs. Dorothy B. Haywood121 West RoadSimsfield, MassimchusettsDear Mrs. Haywood,It is with deep regret that I am writing to confirm my telegram of 16 June1944, in which it was my sad duty to inform you of the death of yourhusband, Lieutenant Edward Haywood of the 1st Simfantry Division.A casualty message has been received by this office which states yourhusband died on 6 June 1944 in Simmandy, SimFrance as a result ofwounds received in action against the enemy.I know that added distress is caused by failure to receive more information.Unfortunately, the report received did not contain any further details butyou may be assured that in the event additional information is receivedregarding Lieutenant Haywood’s death, it will be promptly communicated toyou.I sincerely regret that this message must bring so much sorrow into yourhome and my deepest sympathy is with you in your time of bereavement.Sincerely yours,Gen. Buzz GruntPatton MacArthur “Buzz” GruntMajor GeneralActing The Adjunct General of the Army
As hard as it is to talk about the day I received word of Edward’s death, it’s almost harder to talk about thedays immediately following it. Looking back, I can see how selfish I acted, and I’m so ashamed. I wasbitter, moody, and lashed out at every kind hand that tried to soothe me. I’d catch Dad offering Momcomfort and I’d be jealous her for still having a husband to hold her as she cried. I couldn’t stand to bearound Alice and Steven; it just reminded me of the children that Edward and I should have had and nownever would.With my constant sour attitude, I imagine it was something of a relief when I decided to go back to the cityand start my nursing work again. Though Mom and Dad assured me that I was welcome to stay as long asI wanted, I knew it was time for me to start figuring out how to stand on my own two feet again.
I’d been fortunate enough to have been granted a two week leave from my nursing training. When Ireturned to work, Head Nurse Devereaux called me into her office and gave me a lecture about not lettingmy personal loss interfere with my duties.“We all have our crosses to bear, Mrs. Haywood, but we cannot let them interfere with our duties. Yourpatients must not suffer because of your personal loss, and you must always keep a smile on your face. Iexpect nothing less than excellence from my nurses.”Though I was already standing up straight as I always did when in her presence, I adjusted my postureever so slightly and tilted my chin up with a hint of defiance. “Of course, ma’am. You will not see anydecline in the quality of my work because of this unfortunate incident.”
She must not have picked up on the sarcasm in my voice, because she dismissed me with a nod. I hurriedout of her office, ready to get my first day back over with, and ran into Edith. She looked worse than I did;her husband had been wounded during the invasion, and last I’d heard she had yet to hear any more thanthat.She gave me a quick hug. “John’s okay,” she said, the relief evident in her voice.“Thank goodness,” I said. “Did you find out what happened?”“He got hit with fragments of a shell in the chest and face,” she sighed. “It was bad, but he’s going to bealright. In fact, he’s coming home.”
I felt a pang of jealousy. It just wasn’t fair that her husband got to come home and mine didn’t. But then Irealized that she wasn’t as happy about the news as she should have been.“What aren’t you telling me?”Her shoulders dropped. “One of the shell fragments got into his eye, and they couldn’t save the sight in it.He’s blind in his left eye.”
I gasped. “I’m so sorry.”She smiled weakly, but with a great amount of resolve. “It will be all right. He’s coming home, and we’llfigure it out from there.” She looked up at the clock on the wall. “We need to get to work, or NurseDevereaux will be on us. Listen, some of the patients asked why you were gone, and I told them. I figuredit would be easier for you if it was already explained.”I nodded. “Thank you. We’ll talk more at dinner.”
Over the next few weeks, I threw myself into my work. It was hard, at times, to be patching the soldiers upso they could go home to their families when I’d never get a happy homecoming of my own. I learned toblock it out as best I could, and always greeted each and every patient with a smile.At the end of the day, I’d take that smile off along with my uniform. My facial muscles were often sore fromthe exertion of being stretched into a shape that was now unnatural for me. Still, every morning I woke upand put it back on, and started my routine over again.Fortunately, most of my patients were understanding, and didn’t comment on the fact that I didn’t laugh as Iused to, or that my smile never reached my eyes. They also refrained from talking about how excited theywere to go home to their families around me. That helped a bit, though I always knew that they were justone step away from that much-anticipated homecoming that I would never get to experience for myself.
My sullen attitude didn’t go unnoticed by the head nurse. She called me into her office again, for anotherlecture on being perky and pretty around the patients. I nodded in all the right places and said all the rightthings, and left the stuffy room as soon as I was dismissed. The meeting did not put me in a good mood,and as I checked my patient roster for the day I felt my mood sour further. It seems as penance for myattitude I’d been given every single problem patient.
By the time I reached the last patient on the list, I was ready to bite someone’s head off, and that lastpatient was the bane of everyone on the ward’s existence. Private Wheedon had been badly burned incombat, and had had a horrible attitude ever since he arrived at our hospital. The other nurses would tradeluxuries like stockings amongst themselves not to have to treat him. I sighed, and went to the cabinet forfresh bandages for his wounds.“How are you today, Private?” I asked as I reached his bed.He didn’t move or make any sign that he’d even heard me speak.
I squared my shoulders. “It’s time to change your bandages,” I stated. “It would go a lot faster if you’d situp and let me do it.”He muttered something under his breath, but he complied and sat up on his bed.I made quick work of removing the old bandages, checking and cleaning his wounds, and thenrebandaging them.“They’re healing nicely,” I said. “I imagine you’ll get your discharge papers very soon.”
“Hooray,” he said in a flat tone.“You’re not excited to go home?”“Why should I be?”“I’ve seen you looking at that picture you keep in your bedside table. You’ve got a girl at home, and afamily too from the volume of letters you get. Aren’t you excited about getting to see them again? I’m surethey miss you.”He snorted. “They haven’t seen me.”“You heard the doctor say the scaring shouldn’t be too bad. I think you’re making a bigger deal out of yourinjuries than they actually are.”
“You don’t understand anything, lady,” he said. “I’m not the same person I was when I left there, and I’msure they’re not going to like who I’ve become. I’d be better off if I just died.”His nonchalant attitude pushed me over the edge. “Now you listen to me, Private Wheedon, and you listengood. Don’t you EVER let me catch you saying you wish you were dead again. There are far too manyfamilies already who’ve had to bury a son, brother, or husband. Your family is going to be grateful to haveyou back with them, no matter what you look like or how you’ve changed.”“How would you know?” he said, raising his voice enough that others on the ward were looking in ourdirection. “You’ve been safely here the whole time, your biggest worry whether or not you’d have enoughration tickets to buy that new pair of pretty shoes since you wore the others out dancing at an officer’sparty!”“I know, Private, because my husband died on the beaches of Simmandy on D-Day. And believe me whenI say that I would give anything, anything to have him walk through my front door one more time, no matterwhat shape he was in.”
I turned on my heel and stormed out of the ward, throwing the soiled bandages in a bin on my way by. Ididn’t stop until I’d reached the changing room. I sank down onto one of the benches, and began to cry.I hadn’t cried since the day I’d received the telegram, and it felt good to let some of that emotion out. Isobbed for all the things I’d lost, and the things that I’d now never have.
I heard the door softly open. “Dotty?”I looked up to see Edith, a worried look on her face.“Did someone rat me out to Nurse Devereaux?” I sighed, worried about what she’d say now.“No one would rat you out for putting Private Wheedon in his place; he’s been the bane of everyone’sexistence since he got here. I just wanted to make sure that you were okay.”I shrugged. “I guess. It just…he was wishing he was dead, Edith, and it just doesn’t seem fair that heshould live with that attitude when so many others who wanted to live so badly died.”She sat down next to me. “I know, Dotty. But this is war. War’s not fair.”“No, it’s not.”
Edith sat up. “Wash your face and make yourself presentable. We have class this afternoon. I’ve gotsome makeup in my cubby if you need any.”“Thanks, Edith.”“No problem, Dotty.”
I can’t say things got easier after my little outburst, but they did get a little better, if that makes any sense. Istill missed Edward tremendously, but I didn’t let it eat away at me as I had before. Instead of beingresentful of the men in my care on their way home, I made it my mission to treat them as I would havewanted a stranger to treat Edward had he been in their situation. I stopped to chat with them more. Isuggested presents for children and wives, and helped them write letters home. I comforted them.Nurse Devereaux no longer had cause to call me into her office for lectures on my demeanor. In fact, shewas encouraging me to consider joining the Army and becoming a nurse for them. I had the survivalistattitude, she said.I’d be lying if I said I didn’t seriously consider it. After all, it would give me a chance to travel as I’d alwayswanted, and a real sense of purpose and security.
In the end, I decided against it. Nick and Danny being overseas was enough for Dad and Mom to bear,and with Nick, Howie, and John’s injuries, not to mention the loss of Gilbert, I couldn’t willingly go so faraway from my family.Besides that, the tide had turned. The Allies were winning, pushing the Simmans further and further backin SimEurope, and the Simpanese in the Simcific. It was only a matter of time before we won, and Iwanted to be there when my brothers and childhood friends came home.
We got word that the Simmans surrendered in the afternoon. The city went a bit mad for a time. Formally,we were still supposed to be mourning the death of President Roosimvelt, but I imagine even he wouldhave wanted us to celebrate. The patients that were well enough were brought outside in wheelchairs sothey could enjoy watching the festivities, and the citizens cheered for them when they saw them.
On my walk home from work that night, as I passed bonfire after bonfire despite the fact the blackout orderhad not been formally lifted, I began to seriously think about the future. Edith’s John was already home,though still in the hospital, and it would only be a matter of time until they’d want to get a little housesomewhere and start a family. I’d just finished my training, so my room and board would soon be no more.I’d surely be able to continue to stay at my current boarding house, but on a full nurse’s salary I might beable to afford something a bit nicer.As I settled into bed that night, I said a quick prayer that the war would soon be over, and that my brotherswould come home safe.
After Simpan surrendered later that summer, I was finally able to release the breath I’d been holding sincePlumbbob Harbor had been bombed all those years ago. It was over. No more of my friends and familywould be lost. Nick would come home to Alice and Steven, with Danny following soon after, and we wouldfinally be able to move forward with our lives.
Of course it wasn’t that simple. There were still the aftereffects to deal with, including watching the trials ofthe Simman war criminals. The atrocities they committed – I can’t even write of them now. I’ll only say in amost unladylike way that there’s a special circle reserved for such people in Hell.Aside from the bigger issues, there were ones that touched closer to home as well. I received a letter fromthe army, asking if I wanted my husband’s remains disinterred from where they lay in the Simericancemetery in Simmandy and sent home for reburial. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. The idea of havinghim closer to home was appealing, but so was the thought that he was at rest with his comrades.
I found myself talking with Edith’s husband John about what he would have wanted. He said, if it had beenhim, he would have wanted to stay with his fellow soldiers, if Edith could have born it. I nodded throughoutour conversation; his words confirmed what I knew in my heart, that Edward would want to be with his men.It was also a bit of a selfish decision on my part, as I wouldn’t have to face a gravestone in person on aregular basis, like the Seiffs did. I saw how much it hurt Uncle Taddy and Aunt Calla when they visited itevery week. I didn’t need the constant reminder of my sorrow.
Nick was the first of my brothers to come home. I felt the old jealous feeling rise up inside me when hewrapped his arms around Alice when they met at the train station, but it was quickly replaced with one ofrelief that my brother had come home relatively unharmed. When he hugged me, after planting about athousand kisses on Steven and letting Mom sob into his shoulder as Dad clasped his shoulder, I thought hewould crush my ribs. He whispered, “I’m sorry, Dotty.”“It’s okay, Nick. I’ve had some time to get used to it.”He pulled back and looked at me as if he didn’t believe me.“I said I’ve gotten used to it, not that I’m happy about it or I like it.”He smirked. “Same old Dotty.”
Dinner that night was a big affair. The whole extended family was there, and Mom and Alice made all ofNick’s favorite foods. Steven was running around, completely wired, blabbing “Daddy home” to anyonewho would listen. Uncle Taddy’s smile faded every time his eyes fell on Nick, though he quickly recovered.I did my best to smile through the continued platitudes that everyone wanted to give me.Eventually, I slipped out the back door in the kitchen for a few moments of solitude.
I wasn’t alone long. Nick soon came outside, pausing when he saw me sitting on the bench.“Do you mind if I join you?”I shook my head. “Not at all.”He sat next to me in companionable silence.
He was the first to speak. “It’s strange, you know.”Nick and I had never been particularly close, so I was a bit surprised that he’d chosen to confide in me, andmy face must have shown it.“You, better than anyone except maybe Danny, should know what I mean. So much has changed thesepast few years, and yet it hasn’t. While I’ve been off in SimEurope, doing my best to put people backtogether, life has gone on. Without me, in some ways.”I knew exactly what he meant. “A lot of people put their lives on hold, and not all of them at the front. Andnow that the war’s over, it’s time to figure out how to move forward.”
“Exactly. For some people, it will be easier than others. Take me, for example. I’m going to go back towhat I planned on doing before the war, being a doctor and Alice’s husband and a father to Steven andwhoever else comes along.”I nodded.“What about you, Dotty?”I eyed him. “Did Mom or Dad put you up to this?”“No, I just know that your life has been changed as much as anyone’s can be, and I didn’t know if you’dfigured out what you wanted to do.”
I looked off into the woods where I’d played as a little girl. “Some things haven’t changed for me, either. Istill want to travel and see the world, though I’ll probably hold off on SimEurope for a few years.”Nick chuckled a little at that.“I’m fairly certain I want to keep nursing. It’s a good job, and I seem to have a knack for it, though I think Imight look at a different specialty other than trauma. I’ve seen enough of that to last me a lifetime.”“Are you going to change your mind about becoming an Army nurse?”I shook my head. “The more I think about it, the more I realize I made the right choice. As much as itwould be a good way to see the world, I’d rather pick where I want to go and not where the Army wants tosend me.”
“And beyond that?”“If you’re asking if I plan on getting married again, I don’t know. I can support myself with my job, so I thinkI’ll wait and see what life has to offer me. Besides,” I smirked, “if today’s events are any indication, they’llbe another little Bradford for me to play auntie to before much longer.”Nick gave me a playful shove. “Young ladies aren’t supposed to speak of such things,” he said, imitatingRosalie’s tone.“In case you haven’t figured it out by now, big brother, I’m not a young lady any more.”“No,” he said a little sadly. “When I left, you were a girl still wrapped up in her own little world. Now you’rea grown woman who I’m very proud of.”
Nick’s homecoming was the first of many. Soon, all the boys who were coming home had, and there wasan endless string of celebrations to welcome them back.Danny was the last to come home, as he’d been assigned to the occupying force in Simpan. And hebrought a surprise home with him.
Danny soon settled back into life in Simsfield, though it took Sakura a bit longer to adjust. I spent a lot oftime on my days off with her, helping with housework and cooking that tired her out in her advanced stageof pregnancy.Sakura and I became fast friends. She was eager to improve her Simlish, and to learn all she could aboutDanny. I shared stories from his childhood, and she told me about Simpan. I taught her how to makesome of Danny’s favorite foods. She let me play dress up in one of her precious kimonos. And when theirbaby was born, I was their nurse and subsequently named godmother.
With the widow’s pension I received, I purchased a small house for myself near to Danny and Sakura. Ichanged my specialization to obstetrics and pediatrics. And I slowly began to plan where I wanted toexplore when I would finally be able to see the world.I already knew where my first trip would be: the cliffs of Simmandy, where I would say my final goodbyes toEdward. To the life we should have had together. Then, and only then, would I truly be able to move onwith my life.
* * * * *And that is Dotty’s part of the story.I feel pretty bad that Dotty and Edward didn’t end up with their happily ever after. But the randomizer ruledall, so Dotty lost her Prince Charming. If Edward looks familiar to you, it’s because he’s the result of one ofthe Good Genes Challenges on GoS that I took part in. He was too good looking not to use for something,though I’m sad his genetics won’t get passed on.The Cadet Nurse Corps were a real thing, and any woman with at least a high school education could join.The program trained nurses to take over jobs stateside, so the experienced nurses could go overseas.Since nursing was one of the few “appropriate” jobs that a woman could do at the time, it was a pretty gooddeal.For those of you who are wondering, Edith Haggerty (nee Hutchins) is the daughter of Asher Hutchins,Victor and Jane’s eldest, which also makes her Henri’s great-granddaughter. :D She and Dotty are thesame age, and since Dotty needed a BFF, she got the job. She’s a bit of a Kaylynn clone, as her motherhas the same face template.The final chapter in the saga is Danny’s and I’m working on that right now. Danny’s will focus a bit more onhis time in occupied Simpan post-war, and I hope that you’ll like what I have planned.
CreditsI’d like to thank Rose for the loan of Liam Wheedon, Fuzzy for Bram O’Leery, Annie for Carmine Geebiv,Pen for Scott Penguinio, Ang for Mary Devereaux, and Lily for Malcolm Stark. They were all pretty greatextras, and I think they enjoyed their “vacation” to Simsfield.You can leave your comments on the Bradford Legacy thread at Boolprop, on my Live Journal, or on myDreamwidth, whichever you prefer.