My solitary confinement is beginning to drive me batty. It’s lonely and smelly in here and I want out. So, I have relegated myself to writing shorts and sending them haphazardly in the wind to see if anything comes back. Entertaining as that is for me, there’s only so much story I can write and rewrite without losing what shreds of sanity I have left. It’s depleting quickly, I’m afraid. So much for mental health.
I’ve begun doing research on women in WWII and the important roles they played while manning nursing stations during bombings and trying to decode German intelligence while housed in a solitary room with a damned machine and their brains working non-stop. I want to write a period piece, which is difficult to do. I want to get a sense of what it was like to live in that time, so reading reams of stories about WRENS and nurses and the ladies of Bletchley (located in England, the house manned women on around-the-clock decoding details, interpreting encrypted messages intercepted from the Germans) is what is keeping me occupied as of late.
I read a story about a woman pilot who happened to be giving her student a final lesson in the air over Honolulu in December of 1941…not a bad gig, really, when she spotted a few Japanese bomber planes float by…then she witnessed the onset of what was quickly becoming the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, those Japanese bombers noticed her and she and her student became a target. She landed the plane successfully, albeit quickly, with only a few bullet holes in her plane. She then witnessed the carnage that ensued. Her name was Cornelia Fort, an American flight instructor at John Rogers Airport. There are so many more stories of brave women who lived through the heartbreak and ravages of war that it’s hard to wade through them all. All of these stories are true testaments to the strength and fortitude of the female sex and our willingness to get involved. Our dispositions to be the ever-nurturers and warriors despite what is going on around us propelling us into action. That’s how we roll, ‘yo.
So I sit here reading these stories and studying the pictures and try to imagine myself in that time. Hard to do with all of the technology we have around us and the ease of how we are privileged to spend our days. These women contributed so greatly to the war effort, yet received little recognition for their contributions that it’s shocking. Oh, sure there were medals handed out, but sparingly and with little fanfare. Their actions somewhat dismissed as ‘duty’ instead of courageous acts of martyrdom for the retention of freedom for their beloved countries. They may not have fought directly on the battle lines, but they tended to the sick and dying casualties of war with compassion and as much empathy as their young lives permitted. They stayed home patiently waiting for their heroes to return, only to be forced into raising young families alone. They worked long hours in factories, they joined movements to support their troops by sending care packages, they organized dances to raise money for the war effort. They kept nations intact and families going at one of the most tragic and horrifying times in history.
I’ll keep reading the stories and attempt to get my head around their humility and strength during a time of extreme tension and chaos. My solitary confinement isn’t looking so bad right now….