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

World War I Hospital

November 12, 1944

Settled in

Dear Elizabeth,

No matter how cold it is outside, children from the local village come during the day wanting to play soccer. Few words are exchanged, they just want to play. Usually no one knows what the score is.

You remember writing once about Catherine Barkley? Well, let me assure you, you have nothing to worry about. Don’t get me wrong, each and every one of the nurses is amazing – what they’re able to accomplish with what little they have is incredible and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world – but let’s just say there’s no fear that I’ll fall in love.

I’m allowed to help more and more and no longer feel like a patient. Before I was a part of the beginning of this process. My only concern then was patching them up well enough to make it to a hospital like this alive. There were often so many that I couldn’t give them the time they needed – do only what was absolutely necessary and on to the next one. Once they were out of sight I learned to forget them. I couldn’t do anything else for them so why bother? There would soon be a new batch to patch up and forget about. Here they become human again. Even if they don’t live through it. They’re no longer a machine of flesh and bone in need of fixing, but human.

You never talk much about your life there. I know about your immediate family, but little else. Tell me about where you live. Everyone here let’s off steam by joking, drinking, dancing, singing – anything and everything for a moments break from reality. Those who don’t will soon go crazier than I did. How do you let it off? It sounds like you need to. I don’t mean that as a judgment, I’m just worried about you. From everything you said you keep everything bottled up and there’s only one way that that can end.

You’ll never know how much good you’ve done for me, better than all the drugs in this place, that’s for sure.