A week passed, and I grew stronger by the day. I started walking, first with some aid, and then by myself. I became familiar with the other soldiers in my ward, and also of course with the doctors and nurses. It was the chief doctor, a portly, cheerful man, who told me how I was wounded.
“Well, it’s a good thing you have a thick skull because the bullet bounced off your head. There was some Providence involved as well, since 99 times out of 100, the blow is fatal. So we are glad to have you here with us. How did you come to be shot?”
“I heard something from the area in front of us and raised my head.”
The doctor shook his head. “Tsk, tsk. No matter how well we train our troops, they forget everything when fear or distraction seizes them. I’ll put you down for distraction because I think you do not fear anything.”
“Oh, I have my fears.”
“Apparently not in battle, or you wouldn’t be here.”
“Really, I don’t care for fighting.”
“Who of us does?”
We were both silent for a moment as we thought about the doctor’s words. Then he turned to me again.
“What would you say to a leave of absence? If it’s possible, you could go home, but only for five days. That is the best I can do.”
“That would be wonderful! When can I leave?”
“In about five days. If all goes well and the trains are running, it should take you a day each way to make the journey.”
“I’d walk if I had to.”
“That would take up all your leave and more, so you don’t want to do that.”
“I don’t. I was just trying to give you an idea of how badly I want to see my wife and son.”
The doctor put his hand on my shoulder. “That is what we are fighting for, isn’t it? And isn’t it ironic that we have to fight to insure peace. I’ll have your pass made up, and you can leave as we discussed.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
“It is I who should thank you. You continue to engage in a pointless war without complaint, continuing to risk your life.”
He walked off as I thought, this can’t be real. It surely is my fondest dream come true. If I can wait a few more days, I will be in heaven.