This is the forty-seventh of 87 letters exchanged during World War II between Nicholas Salvatore and Elizabeth Galloway. For more see Nicholas and Elizabeth.

Three nurses

September 29, 1944
At the hospital

Do you know what book they have here? The collected works of Edgar Allan Poe. How about that? Sure, they’ve got plenty others, but that seemed fitting. I’ve been here what now, two weeks? A month? They watch me, I can always feel their eyes on me, even when I’m sleeping. They won’t let me drink but I manage.

Nothing makes sense here. It’s like some sort of hideous waiting room. But waiting for what? For me to “get better” I suppose, but I don’t feel sick. I have greater clarity than I ever have. Out there, in the blood and bombs, made more sense than this. Sure, there was tortured waiting there too, men lost toes and fingers and themselves but it was for something. I was a part of something. Here I’m something that for all intents and purposes doesn’t exist. No newsreel was ever shot here.

So whadda you say?

You still want me coming home to you? You want this mess? Let’s face it, you don’t know me and I don’t know you. I certainly don’t know myself. Oh Elizabeth. If what we wanted is what we have then we’d be aimless for sure. How could that ever make us happy? You know what Poe called sleep? “Slices of death.” I used to think that was a negative thing but now I’m not so sure.

Write. Or don’t. I’m in no position to tell you what to do.


Next letter – October 13, 1944