Author's Note: This is a collab I did with Radhika Diksha, I wrote Julie's perspective and she wrote Jay's. She is such a wonderful author so please check out her work. I'll put a link in the comments below. Thank you, happy Friday, and I hope you enjoy!
September 2, 1939
I haven’t stopped crying since the letter came. My tears blotted the ink, making it spread across the paper, smearing the words. Jay’s hands crumple the corners as he holds it with clenched fists, his face has maintained a stoic expression since we read it, barely responding to my pleading.
Being seventeen, he had been forced to register for the draft, but we never prepared for the worst-case scenario. For him to be picked so soon when he was still so young. I was chosen too, my expertise making me an effective nurse. Someone to heal all those wounded in the bloody battles. A small part of me is happy to be able to offer my services to my country, but I’m terrified.
I told Jay I loved him as we parted. I wore a deep blue jacket tucked around me, keeping out the fierce bite of the wind. We whispered fleeting promises as trains hurried by beside us, tears darting across my icy skin. We promised that this wouldn’t be the end.
January 1, 1940
I have to be strong for the rest of them. Hiding my winces as I bandage a mutilated leg or burnt flesh. I bite my lip as I weave a thread through their skin, trying to mend the broken, of body, mind, and heart. But there are too many bodies, too many I couldn’t save. It seems my job will never be over.
Today Jay came by the clinic, him and his fellow soldiers carrying more stretchers between them. The soldiers on them writhed and cried out in pain, but as I rushed them off to beds, what I noticed were Jay’s eyes. A deep forest green, with more ghosts in them than I could have ever imagined. He pulls me into his arms, stroking my hair and whispering condolences as my tears soak his camouflage uniform.
The other nurses tell me I am lucky to have Jay here with me, they don’t understand. They don’t understand that every day I wish he was safe back home, sheltered from the terrors of war. That way I wouldn’t have to pray for his life every night, it would be better that way. Despite all the danger, though, I’m glad to see him again.
As the war carries on around us, as bombs scorch the Earth and bullets rain down upon us, we find peace in each other’s arms.
October 3, 1940
It was my birthday today, not that it means much in the middle of a war. Jay tried to make it mean something, though. Jay and a few soldiers made a small treat for me, an attempt at a cake, with bread, chocolate, and peanuts. The gesture means a lot to me right now, I haven’t had a reason to smile for a while now.
I see a little light in his eyes as they laugh and sing to me, It’s a relief after seeing the agony on his face so long. I’m starting to believe that we might make it through this. Together.
August 12, 1945
Jay is coming home to Amsterdam today, and I don’t know if I can wait another minute for his arrival. I have almost forgotten what it is like to live without the burden of constant danger and death. I think I have learned to appreciate the small things now. After the war, I feel blessed to have a safe home, food, and a warm bed.
This will be a new beginning, a time to repair or relationship. To love again. Hopefully, we can find ourselves again, to go back to a resemblance of our old lives.
May 5, 1947
During the war, I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be truly content with my life. Today I said “I do” in front of the altar and donned a wedding ring on my finger. I vowed to spend the rest of my life by Jay’s side, despite everything trying to tear us apart. The war, our scars, our memories.
Our wedding was a bubble of joy amidst all the chaos and destruction. Something to hold on to at a later time when I start to lose hope again. Maybe someday I’ll be able to build up enough happy memories to outweigh the painful ones. It would probably take a lifetime, but I hope it’s possible. It would definitely be worth it.
April 3, 1948
I have been working as a governess lately to try to scrape up some money for us. The pay is meager but at least it’s something. Times are tough right now, so even small things can make all the difference. Even the children are sad, their spirits suffocated and their hearts broken from the loss.
I see the remnants of the war everywhere now, in the children too. They mimic the fighting in their innocent games, having no idea of the true terrors out there. The girls bandage their dolls ‘broken arms’, pretending to be a nurse healing a fallen soldier. They ask me if I was afraid on the battlefield, telling me I must be very brave.
Being an actress was always my dream, to wear a beautiful costume and stand under the spotlight. I wish I lived a different life sometimes, but no matter what I would have liked, I’m stuck with this one. Maybe that’s still a possibility, sometime in the future. Jay tells me not to lose hope, that we will heal eventually.
September 9, 1948
I just found out I was chosen for the lead role in an upcoming movie. I didn’t expect things to go this well for us. Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but it seems things are starting to look up. The money we’ll receive from the production will definitely be an added bonus.
Jay is also finishing his education at a University, something I am proud of him for. He has always encouraged me to follow my dreams, being such a supportive husband, I want to return the favor.
I’m slightly afraid to start acting, afraid that I’ll fail drastically. This is a different challenge than before, and I’m slightly hesitant to take it on. But nothing can be quite as terrifying as the war, can it?
December 14, 1949
I walked down the red carpet today, with Jay watching and clapping from the crowd. He put on a smile but it didn’t quite reach his eyes, I’m worried I have hurt him. My publicity team has advised I keep our relationship quiet. They say that I will do better as an actress if people view me as a young, single woman.
I hope he knows I love him, that marrying him was the best decision I ever made. That our relationship shed light on my darkest days.
I’m trying to follow everyone here, to do what everyone is telling me, but I’m lost.
January 2, 1950
Jay seems to have forgotten about what we used to be. These days, it seems he doesn’t trust me anymore. He says the fame has blinded me, but I can see as clear as ever.
He told me to leave today, yelling to cover the break in his voice, I hope he didn’t mean it. I really am trying to do what is best, but I am being pulled in so many directions I am afraid I might break. I’ll try to find a way to show Jay how much he means to me, I hope we can repair this.
It seems wherever I go, pain follows me.
February 11, 1950
I announced our relationship to the media today, I’m sick of hiding it. Jay has been the light of my life for as long, I’m glad to finally be able to show how I feel. If this makes me a less desirable actress, then so be it. Jay deserved better than being hidden behind my fame.
I explained all we had gone through to the crowd. From when we went to war as teenagers to this very day. Our story is a painful one, that’s for sure, but it is ours.
January 1, 2001
We entered a new era today, and I hope we can start to enjoy our new life. The war, that nightmare we survived, will always be a part of our life, but it does not define our life. We have a small part of our minds reserved for dealing with those memories, for working through those late-night thoughts, but it does not consume us. We’re moving on, someday we might be able to look back without any tears in our eyes. We don’t forget the pain, we learn to cope with it.
Jay’s laugh is finally starting to sound like it did before the war, full of carefree joy. I would even dare to say we have never been happier. I will be forever grateful for all that Jay did for me.
He surprised me with sweets when I needed it most, he forgave me for my mistakes, he told me he loved me over and over again. He was the one thing that kept me fighting through everything, the one thing that made waking up in the morning worth it. Jay, I will love you always, until the day I die and after that.
I can say one thing for sure, I finally have no regrets.