Two Women and a War
by Vincent Lorelle
Second Place – Level A (3rd – 4th grade)
The women sat silently on the bench, praying for hours, waiting for someone to come and tell them that their husbands were still alive after the huge Battle of the Atlantic. Yvette and Odile had met at the Army Recruiting Station while their husbands, Jacques and Matthieu, were recruiting for the French Army. Now, almost two years later, they still talk about that one day.
The world is involved in a great World War with Jacques manning a flamethrower and Matthieu a bazooka. They have not been injured once!
A year into the war, Yvette said she was so proud of Jacques. But now the wives were dreading what news would come: if their husbands were dead, alive, injured, or jailed.
Suddenly they heard the trampling of hooves and noticed dust rising in the distance. Both Yvette and Odile stood up as the horseback rider got close. Odile cried out with joy. “Matthieu, Matthieu! My dear husband – you are still alive!” Matthieu jumped off the horse and ran to Odile with open arms. Later Odile would say, “It was the happiest day of my life – but the news for Yvette even made me cry.”
“Yvette, I am sorry, but Jacques has been severely injured and is too weak to travel long distances,” Matthieu said. “He was injured on July 3. I am sorry we could not get the news to you sooner. We want you to come to Paris to become a nurse and look after Jacques and other soldiers that have been injured. You will get an apartment and food and a hiding spot when Paris is under attack.”
“Let us get our horses, and soon we will be on our way to Paris,” Yvette replied.
Soon they were traveling down the old dirt road to Paris. As they rode, Yvette said to Odile, “What do you think will happen to Jacques by the time we have arrived in Paris?”
“I am sure he will be all right. What can happen in one day’s time?”
Now Yvette knew Odile was probably correct, but in her mind, she kept thinking about how a lot can happen in a single week.
On the second day of their journey, they were struck by a torrential lightning storm that delayed them a whole day. Finally, when the rain let up, they trudged back on the muddy road. After nearly four days, they reached Paris.
“I have never been so happy to arrive somewhere in my life!” Odile said.
Soldiers crowded the streets throughout Paris. Matthieu showed Yvette and Odile where they would be staying then he showed them the Army hospital. Yvette slowly made her way to the room where Jacques was. She stepped in and ran as fast as she could to hug Jacques, so tightly that he had to plead for mercy.
“Jacques! I couldn’t stand life without you!” Yvette said.
After three hours, Yvette returned to where she was staying. When she got back she had some supper and went to bed and tried to stay up but the thought of what would happen the next day put her to sleep. Yvette and Odile awoke the next morning to the sound of footsteps on the old cobblestone streets of Paris. Soon they had their breakfast of cinnamon toast and chocolate croissants. After their hearty meal, Yvette went shopping. She stopped at the bakery to pick up supper and then went to the hospital to take care of Jacques.
All the bells in Paris began to clang but it sounded like all the bells in France! She realized something – Paris was being bombed! She helped Jacques up and the soldiers showed them a lair beneath the floor of the hospital. The sound of bombs, the guns firing, and the cries of the wounded were heard. Hours later, Yvette climbed out of the rubble but her heart fell when she saw all the dead and wounded. Yvette helped the soldiers and nurses tend to the injured and brave soldiers. The hospital was always crowded with nurses and after several long weeks that seemed like years, Jacques was finally healed.
Yvette couldn’t stop crying. Without Jacques life just wasn’t the same! Life was now normal. Yvette and Jacques invited Odile and Matthieu over for tea one day and as they were talking about when the war would end – and also their lifetime adventure and experience – the door suddenly flew open. General Eisenhower cried out with joy.
“The Germans have finally surrendered!”
The room went silent for a moment, then everyone started laughing and crying at the same time. Everyone shouted, “The Germans have finally surrendered!”