Hi, everyone! Sorry, i know it’s late, but to be very frank with you, it’s taken me most of the day to get this right. I want to warn you now: in this installment, Nate revisits memories of his last moments with Jack, and it IS emotional. So please prepare yourself before you read, because I was crying while I was writing. 

And also, please remember that tonight was opening night of the new modern retelling of Little Women. I got a group together, and we went to go see it. It…was…LOVELY! So find it in a theater near you, and go see it! Now ill leave you to your reading of this week’s installment of A New Arrival.

 

Nate felt the pain screaming from his shoulder before anything else. He reached for it before he could even open his eyes. What happened? Nate groaned and slowly shook his head, trying to sweep the cobwebs free. As his mind cleared and his eyes began to slit open, he heard something behind him: men’s voices. Men’s voices clamoring! “Dig! Dig! Get him out! Keep trying!” they all yelled at once! Nate’s memory returned in waves, his eyes popped open with sudden alertness. Jack! The landslide! He’d pushed Nate out of the way! Nate turned his head to see his fellow Mounties crawling over the rocks and boulders like an army of ants, trying to remove them from a particular spot. That must be where Jack was! Nate stood, steadied himself, then hurried to be part of the effort. He elbowed and shoved his way to the spot itself, just in time to see Jack’s head and shoulders be uncovered. He touched two fingers to Jack’s neck just as Jack moaned in pain. “He’s alive!” Nate shouted.

They lifted and pushed, scratched and dug for the better part of an hour before Jack was finally pulled free. Nate grabbed his feet while Cooper took his wrists, and they hoisted him away from the rubble. They laid him in one of the few clear spots to be found. Nate knelt beside Jack while Anderson appeared with a blanket to cover him. “Are there any doctors here?” Nate demanded. Silence. “Anybody?!” The Mounties just looked at each other sorrowfully. Not in this company. Everyone had the same amount of First Aid training Nate had…not enough knowledge for a situation as dire as this. And the others had looked to him as a leader, given his age…and the fact that Jack had appointed him his unofficial second in command.

Nate turned his attention back to Jack, and desperately tried to think. Jack had plenty of cuts and abrasions, but none looked too serious. Then Nate felt Jack’s cold, sweaty skin, and saw massive amounts of bruising on the exposed flesh. When he felt for broken bones, and Jack cried out in pain at every touch, he knew. These symptoms could only mean one thing- bleeding on the inside.

Nate stopped devising a plan of action, and started trying to accept that he was kneeling beside a dying man. He took Jack’s hand, and as gently as possible, tried to rouse him. The other recruits felt the change. They huddled in groups a short distance away, giving Nate a little privacy, but still there offering support. Jack’s eyes fluttered open, and he dazedly looked around him. His gaze settled on Nate, but he seemed confused. Finally, there was some semblance of recognition, and Nate didn’t wait another moment to speak. “You saved my life, Jack!” Nate said as tears pooled in his eyes.

“Had to.” Jack spoke with labored, wheezing breaths. “You’re my friend, Nate.” Suddenly, a sense of urgency overtook Jack. He tried to move, but his eyes widened, and he groaned loudly with the pain. “Quick…my pocket…take it.” Nate searched three of them before he discovered a piece of paper in Jack’s left breast pocket, next to his heart. Jack exerted all his remaining energy to reach his other hand up to Nate. Nate took it. “Find my wife…find…Elizabeth…give that…to her…please…” Jack pleaded.

“Calm down, Jack. Save your strength. Of course I’ll find her. I promise.”

Jack started choking on air. “Tell her I-I love her…so much. Tell her…t-tell her…”

“What, Jack? Tell her what?”

“Tell…her…‘Eternity’…”

Nate startled himself back to the present. Elizabeth had just asked him something. “Pardon me?”

Elizabeth’s eyes were wistful as she answered. “The baby…how did he know?” She met his gaze again. “I’m expecting.”

Only then did Nate notice the little bump barely showing beneath her coat. He sucked in his breath as his thoughts were flooded with images of his sister, another pregnant widow who lost her husband in the line of duty. He took Elizabeth’s hand, still holding the paper in both of his as he would have his sweet sister’s. “I want you to know, I’ll help you in any way I can.”

Elizabeth nodded her thanks with an emotional smile, and pulled her hand back to continue looking at the treasure she’d just been given. It wasn’t a letter, but a drawing. Nate could study it in his mind’s eye as Elizabeth looked, as Jack had shown it to him so many times. It was a depiction of Elizabeth holding a baby wrapped in a crocheted blanket. Jack was just above her and to the side, his left hand on her shoulder, his wedding ring visible; and they were both smiling down at their little bundle of joy. At the top read simply “My Eternity”. Then he remembered to answer her.

“I don’t think he did know ma’am, at least not the way he talked. But he was always talking about his dreams of the future with you, and that included lots of children. I guess this is what he wanted when he…when he came home.”

“This means more to me than I can say. He must have trusted you a great deal to leave this in your hands.” Elizabeth folded the paper, and lovingly placed it inside the cover of one of her books. Then she locked eyes with Nate, and asked in a very somber tone. “May I ask you one more favor?”

“Name it.”

 

 

See you Monday! Oh, and don’t forget to tune in tomorrow evening to watch All of My Heart: The Wedding. Enjoy! This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!

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